August 12th – Capitol Theatre

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Tonight’s adventure brings me to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.

With its close proximity to Central Station, the grounds of the theatre were originally the Belmore Markets when opened in 1892. This inspired much of the interior decoration, featuring fruit and foliage reliefs.

In 1916 the building was converted to host a circus, including a concrete water tank measuring 12 metres in diameter, and 3.6 metres deep, perfect for seals and polar bears apparently.

The pool still exists today underneath the existing flooring.

Within 10 years the circus was unsustainable, and efforts were made to turn the site into a theatre. The Capitol Theatre was built where it flourished, until the advent of television which brought about a 20 year decline.

With the site in ruin the bulldozers were poised, when in 1981 a preservation order saved the site from total loss. A $30m restoration project took place over the next 24 months, which returned the lavish building to its former glory.

The Capitol is considered to be an “Atmospheric theatre“, something that American designer John Eberson was renowned for. There were 5 Atmospheric theatres built in Australia, of which the Capitol is the last remaining.

I’m a big fan of musical theatre, and that over-exposed sign in the centre of the photo is Les Miserables, understandably one of the best.

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