114 - 118 Pine Avenue,
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Leeton Shire Council -- Roxy Theatre
Architects: Clifford M. Chard, Lewis Kaberry
Firms: Kaberry & Chard
Functions: Community Arts Center, Movies
Styles: Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Mission Revival
News About This Theater
- Jan 24, 2011 — Leeton's Roxy Cinema charges into its 80's
The Roxy Theatre opened on 7th April 1930 with Victor McLagen in “The Black Watch”. It was built for local Riverina entrepreneur George Conson. Designed by noted cinema architectural firm Kaberry & Chard in a mix of Art Deco and Spanish Mission styles. The seating capacity of 1,091 was provided in stalls and balcony levels. It was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system.
In October 1933 the stage and an orchestra pit were added and noted Australian soprano Gladys Moncrieff made appearances for six nights to celebrate the occasion. Since then the proscenium has been brought forward, loosing the original decorative one.
The theatre was threatened with redevelopment in 1977 and was saved by the local community. It now operates as the Roxy Community Theatre with a mix of live productions, meetings and movies twice weekly. Owned by the local Council it now has a seating capacity of 880. It is Listed on the New South Wales Historic Buildings Register.
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A night photograph of the Roxy Community Theatre taken in December 2004:
Roxy Community Theatre
General information Architectural style Art Deco/Art Nouveau/Spanish Mission
Design and construction - Architect Kaberry and Chard architects
New South Wales Heritage Register
Official name Roxy Community Theatre; Roxy Theatre; Big Red Type - State heritage (built) Designated 24 February 2006 Reference No. 1747 - Type Cinema Category Recreation and Entertainment Builders W. H. Hones for George Conson
The Roxy Community Theatre is a heritage-listed cinema, live theatre, theatre, concert venue and meeting venue located at 114-118 Pine Avenue, Leeton in the Leeton Shire local government area of New South Wales, Australia.
It was designed by Kaberry and Chard architects in the Art Deco/Art Nouveau/Spanish Mission style and built from 1929 to 1930 by W. H. Hones for George Conson. It is also known as Roxy Theatre and Big Red. The property is owned by Leeton Shire Council. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 24 February 2006.
The Roxy opened 7 April 1930 and was built for Riverina Theatre entrepreneur George Conson. The architects for the theatre were the noted firm of Kaberry and Chard.
The popularity of the Roxy as a theatre name, imported from America’s most famous movie theatre, reflects the importance and worldwide influence of movies and the glamorous American lifestyle depicted in Hollywood films, embraced by Australian society during the 1920s and 1930s inter-war period. The original Roxy Theatre, built in New York in 1927, was the world’s largest showcase cinema from this era of theatrical movie palaces. It was established by and named after the master cinema showman himself, Samuel “Roxy” Rothapfel. “Roxy” as a name thus became synonymous with showmanship and dramatic cinema palaces from the boom time era of movies, wherever American cinema, Pop culture, and the theatrical American movie lifestyle became influential, admired and replicated.
The theatre was built by Mr W. H. Jones (sometimes J. H. Jones), with a seating capacity of 1091 on two levels. The Roxy was built in a modified Spanish Mission Style, with large red neon signs that were visible from a great distance at night, owing to the theatre’s location on top of a hill. As a result, the Roxy was nick-named “Big Red” . These lights were installed in 1933 when a full sized concert stage was constructed to mark its official opening. Australia’s celebrated soprano singer, Miss Gladys Moncrieff OBE, was engaged to sing in October 1933, as part of these opening celebrations.
In 1977 the theatre’s future was threatened with redevelopment. A meeting was called on 2 June 1977 by the Leeton and District Community Advancement Fund where the theatre’s future was discussed including unanimously agreeing that the theatre should be retained as a Civic type building and also should be saved as a picture theatre. On 23 June 1977 the matter on the theatre was discussed further at the Leeton and District Community Advancement Fund’s Annual General meeting with extensive investigations made and convinced of the buildings soundness and viability. The theatre was purchased by the community after a massive fund raising drive. $27,000 was raised by the Save The Roxy Committee and it was purchased for $75,000. Ownership was vested in Leeton Shire Council.
The theatre was progressively upgraded to provide a larger stage area and new dressing rooms, with a present seating capacity of 880 people (414 downstairs and 474 in the upstairs lounge area). It is run by a small part-time staff and a voluntary management committee. In addition to showing regular films, the Roxy is now the venue for eisteddfods, discos, high school speech nights and the musical society’s annual production. It has been restored to its original 1930s style.
The Roxy is a fine example of an Inter-war cinema designed in a modified Art Deco architectural style with Art Nouveau and Spanish Mission elements. The building is constructed of brick walls, with the primary facade rendered, the roof clad in corrugated iron and timber floors. The theatre has a full size concert stage with the original two levels of seating, a foyer and ticket box area and an integrated shop at the west side. Large red neon lettering for “Roxy” is mounted above the roof parapet in three directions, plus extensive neon lighting on the front facade.
As at 18 May 2005, the theatre is in good condition, although some maintenance required. Heritage Council funding for conservation works to the Roxy Theatre were approved in 1992 for a total of $15,600. In December 2018 the NSW Government announced an additional $3.9 million grant towards a $4.4 million refurbishment of the Roxy Theatre.
The Roxy and associated shop survives virtually intact. - Notes by Wikipedia
Modifications and dates
1933 – Larger concert stage and dressing rooms constructed. 1933 – Facade neon lighting and red neon “Roxy” sign installed, and restored in 1992. 1995-1998 – Electrical upgrade to replace original decayed wiring.
Contributed by Greg Lynch -