Regal Theatre

474 Hay Street,
Subiaco, WA 6008

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Regal Theatre, Subiaco (Official)

Additional Info

Architects: Alfred R. Baxter-Cox, William Garnsworthy Bennett, William Thomas Leighton

Firms: Baxter-Cox & Leighton

Functions: Live Theatre

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Regal Theatre and Picture Gardens

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 61089.388.2066

Nearby Theaters

View from the dress circle of the Regal Theatre auditorium 2016

Located in the Subiaco district of Perth. It was built on the site of the Coliseum Theatre and Picture Gardens which had opened in December 1916. The Regal Theatre opened on the 27th April, 1938 with a topical film "Love Under Fire" set during the Spanish Civil War, which was raging at the time. The supporting film was "Shall We Dance" with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Designed by well known architect William G. Bennett, out of the office of William T. Leighton of Baxter-Cox & Leighton, the exterior design of the Regal Theatre is unique in Western Australia. The circular tower, which is the building’s most prominent feature, gives cognisance to the corner site and establishes a pleasing relationship with the building on the opposite side. Hence the Regal Theatre is the only cinema still standing in Western Australia which opens onto an intersection. Because of the concern with symmetry, the facade facing Rokeby Road has a large area of false walling, including false windows, simply to balance the volume of the bio box on the opposidte side. The central axis of the facade and foyer is situated on a diagonal, whereas the auditorium runs parallel to Rokeby Road, with an unequal face to each street. The two-tiered half-cylindrical tower features aspects of horizontal and vertical detailing, which is accented with ribbed bands supporting the verticality of the stepped "banner" holding the flashing neon sign. This lettering has changed in the intervening years.

Soon after opening, the Regal Picture Gardens was opened across the road at the corner of Rokeby Road and Hay Street. The Regal Picture Gardens had 750 seats. In 1946 the Regal Theatre was sold to Clarence ‘Paddy’ Baker, whose family have been associations with the site since the Coliseum Picture Gardens days. No history of the building would be complete without a mention of the veteran picture showman who had been associated with the industry since childhood. Paddy ran the Regal Theatre until he died in 1986, leaving his beloved theatre to the people of Western Australia.

The Regal Picture Gardens was closed in 1971 and was demolished in 1973 to build shops on the site. Since 1987, the Regal Theatre has been used as a live theatre. The Regal Theatre is listed with the National Trust and with the Australian Heritage Commission.

Contributed by Mark Nicol

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

davidcoppock on July 22, 2015 at 12:01 am

The Coliseum Theatre and Gardens opened in December 1916,and demolished(mid 1930’s) to make for the Regal theatre. The Regal Theatre also had a picture gardens(Regal Picture Gardens) across the road on the North-west corner of Rokeby Road and Hay Street(seating 750) opened soon after the Regal Theatre opened. The Regal Picture Gardens closed in 1971 and demolished in 1973 and replaced with shops. The Regal Theatre has 1200 seats.

barryinperth on April 12, 2016 at 3:05 am

Link to news clip on Regal Theatre refurbishment:

davidcoppock on April 17, 2016 at 1:42 am

There is information and photos about the Regal Theatre and the other cinemas/theatres, picture gardens and drive-ins' that Paddy Baker(1898-11/8/1988) ran in Western Australia in the book “Paddy baker Picture Show Man(Max d. Bell).

davidcoppock on May 4, 2016 at 12:54 am

Since the Regal Theatre became a live theatre, the film screenings stopped, except for when they showed some some surfing and snow skiing films, and “The Sound of Music singalong”(1990’s an/or 2000’s?).

barryinperth on August 22, 2017 at 4:32 am

I’ve only just realised that no-one has yet mentioned that the Regal was built for the Hewett family, the most famous member of which became Dorothy Hewett, a prominent poet, playwright and novelist. In her memoir titled WILD CARD, she writes:

My family have built the Regal Theatre, an Art Deco picture ‘palace’ with a crying room for mothers and babies, double plush seats with no arm between for lovers, a sweeping staircase from foyer to lounge with a huge gilt-edged mirror at the top. The manager, Mr Appleby, in his grey suit, is bowing in the foyer. Mrs Appleby is eternally smiling in the ticket box, the fireman stands guard at the bottom of the stairs, the identical twin usherettes tear the admission tickets in half, and up in the bio-box the operator and his assistant have one eye on the film and one on the blonde woman with the big tits across the street, undressing without pulling down the blind."

Hewett set her play BON-BONS AND ROSES FOR DOLLY in the Regal.

In one scene, the chorus sings:

Bon-bons and roses for Dolly – she floats down the stairs like a dream, The people all rise and as I close my eyes she’s there in her green crepe de Chine. Her pageboy bob is on her shoulders, she’s there making eyes at the men, Silvery sequins, a-glitter, circle the swish of her hem.

davidcoppock on August 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

I haven’t heard or read this story before!! There is a armchair in the Regal Theatre reserved for the late Paddy Baker(although anyone can sit on it, i beleive?).

davidcoppock on August 22, 2017 at 7:29 am

The armchair is in the entrance foyer of the Regal Theatre(ground floor level).

davidcoppock on October 8, 2017 at 1:32 am

Classified by the National Trust on 3/6/1990,.State Heritage register 2454, 28/2/1993. Register of National Estate on 30/6/1992. Fly tower added in 1994.

drb on January 22, 2018 at 10:15 am

This theatre was used recently as a rehearsal hall before the big concerts of none other than Paul McCartney and his band.

davidcoppock on January 23, 2018 at 3:36 am

I saw on the news here. Some lucky fans(possibly competition winners?) watched the performance and there was also a question and answer session.

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