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Palais Theatre

Located on the Lower Esplanade at St Kilda, this was Australia's most palatial suburban cinema. Designed by Henry E. White, it replaced an earlier cinema destroyed by fire in 1926. The new Palais, accommodating nearly 3000 patrons on two vast levels, opened on 11 November 1927. Films were supplemented by elaborate stage presentations and a concert orchestra under the direction of Harry Jacobs. Following the introduction of television, the Palais switched to live presentations. The orchestra pit was enlarged and new dressing rooms were added. The Australian Elizabethan Opera Company appeared at the Palais in 1960. The theatre hosted many further seasons of opera, as well as classical ballet, folk and ethnic dance companies, musicals and concert presentations. Featured artists included Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, Gracie Fields, the Seekers, Shirley Bassey, George Shearing, Rolf Harris, Shelley Berman, Ry Cooder, Bette Midler, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minnelli and Peter Allen. Jesus Christ Superstar played at the Palais in 1973 and 1976. Joan Sutherland appeared with the Australian Opera in The Merry Widow in 1979. The opening of the Arts Centre drew many attractions from the Palais, but the theatre's present capacity of 2854 - the greatest of any conventional theatre in Australia - makes it a valuable and viable concert venue.

Frank Van Straten