249 Bourke Street,
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Architects: William Pitt
Firms: Backhouse & Co.
Styles: French Renaissance
Previous Names: Rickards New Opera House
The Tivoli Theatre was built on the site of the Opera House. It was designed in a French Renaissance style designed by architectural firm Backhouse & Co. of Sydney. It opened on 18th May 1901 as Rickards New Opera House, with British music hall star Marie Lloyd topping the bill. W.C. Fields appeared here in 1903. In 1910 Harry Houdini appeared for a weeks' engagement.
In 1914 it was re-named Tivoli Theatre. In 1921 it presented its first film “What Women Love” starring Annette Kellerman, but cinema use only lasted a few months and it reverted back to variety theatre use. In 1924 the Tivoli Theatre became part of the J.C. Williamson circuit until 1932. Many top stars appeared on stage over the years.
On 4th August 1956 the Tivoli Theatre was closed to be remodelled into a ‘modern’ theatre. Seating was provided for 1,442 with 662 in the stalls, 300 in the circle and 452 in the upper circle. The boxes seated 40. It re-opened on 1st November 1956 with “Olympic Follies” starring Richard Hearne. More big name stars appeared in the late-1950’s and early-1960’s including George Formby, Tommy Trinder, Winifred Atwell, Shirley Bassey, Tommy Steele and Sophie Tucker. It closed as a theatre on 2nd April 1966 with a special ‘Gala Night’.
The Tivoli Theatre became a cinema, but was severely damaged by a fire on 5th April 1967 and the remains were demolished in late-1967. An office block and shopping arcade named Tivoli Arcade now stands on the site.
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