Curtains up on refurbished Melbourne icon

Melbourne's Regent Theatre set to open after $19.4m refurbishment

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REGENT RESPLENDENT: The Regent Theatre in Melbourne will reopen in January after a major refurbishment.

REGENT RESPLENDENT: The Regent Theatre in Melbourne will reopen in January after a major refurbishment.

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The Regent will re-open January 2020 with the international theatrical event War Horse followed by Billy Elliott the Musical.

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The Regent Theatre in Melbourne will re-open its doors in January to reveal a major refurbishment of the auditorium, foyers and amenities.

The $19.4 million refurbishment, which was undertaken as a partnership between the Victorian state government, the City of Melbourne and theatre operator Marriner Group, was three years in planning and eight months in construction.

The Regent will re-open with the international theatrical event War Horse followed by Billy Elliott the Musical. In 2021 the Regent will host the Australian premiere of the critically acclaimed Australian production Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

The Regent originally opened in 1929 as a picture palace: a venue for many forms of entertainment including the Wurlitzer organ, ballet, a news reel and feature film. The feature on its opening night was The Two Lovers.

Jason Marriner chief executive of the Marriner Group said, "the Regent is such a beautiful theatre, but now it really is optimised for live performance.

"The changes are subtle but substantial, and I think audiences will be delighted with the improvement."

Some of the works undertaken including extensive repair and restoration of the ornate plasterwork and crystal chandelier in the auditorium.

The Regent in 1929.

The Regent in 1929.

A four-metre extension has also been added to the dress circle balcony and new seating, including 170 new leather lounge chairs in the dress circle.

The bars and foyers have been upgraded and extra ladies bathrooms have been installed.

Regent Theatre: A timeline

  • The Regent opened on March 15, 1929 as a picture palace: a venue for many forms of entertainment including the Wurlitzer organ, ballet, a news reel and feature film. The feature on opening night was a silent film, The Two Lovers.
  • The first talkie film was on April 6, 1929, an aerial action film called The Air Circus.
  • The auditorium burned down in 1945, right at the end of World War II. Despite the scarcity of building supplies, the City of Melbourne deemed the reconstruction as a priority due to the importance of the Regent to the city.
  • Reopening in 1947, the opening night programme included a Technicolor film of the royal wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
  • The theatre closed in 1970. The theatre's future was heavily disputed and laid dormant for 26 years.
  • Following a majestic restoration from a near-derelict state by Marriner Group, the Regent reopened in 1996 with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard.
  • Since reopening, the Regent has been home to blockbuster musicals like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Lion King, Wicked, and Love Never Dies.
  • In 2020, the theatre will re-open with the international hit play, War Horse, followed by the multi award-winning 10 year anniversary production Billy Elliot the Musical. This follows a comprehensive refurbishment and upgrade of the auditorium and patron amenities.
  • In 2021 the Regent will host the Australian premiere of the critically acclaimed Australian production Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

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