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No. 232 Bourke Street

          The Theatre Royal                                                                           Australasian Post,
                                                                                                        Article from the
                                                                                                         10 July 1993.
          By Fred Page

         The magazine cutting reproduced on the opposite page was recently given to
         me by a neighbour. Together with the banner headline “Sex On The Stage”
         and the article branding the Theatre Royal as a “saddling paddock” I just had
         to investigate the theatre’s history!

               he first substantial Theatre  stalls, dress circle, upper circle and  cover their expenses for the week. The
               Royal opened on 16 July 1855  gallery. There were separate entrances  fortune that Coppin made enabled him
         Tat 232 Bourke Street. There was   for different classes of patrons. Gallery  to move into real estate, notably in the
          an earlier venue that went under several  and pit patrons sat on backless wooden  Sorrento area, and in later life to be a
          names including Theatre Royal at 285  forms.                         considerable benefactor to the people
          Bourke Street which was later the site  Within three months the theatre was  of Melbourne.
          of the Britannia Theatre.         in financial trouble in spite of staging  The Coppin-Brooke partnership
            The first performance in the new  quality shows with reputable artists.  survived until February 1859 when
          Royal — which was built by John   (Was the “saddling paddock” the    Brooke took sole possession of the
          Black, a carrier who made his fortune  cause?!)                      Royal, and Coppin their other former
          on the goldfields — was School For   The ownership then passed to    joint assets. As Coppin and Brooke
          Scandal starring G H Rogers with Mrs  actor/manager George Coppin and his  were relatives by marriage, their
          Charles Poole.                    new partner Gustavus Vaugun Brooke.  separation was not long lasting. By
            The theatre could accommodate   Their reputation on the stage was such  December 1860 they were acting
          3,300 people in four levels; pit and  that the takings for one night could  together again at the Royal.
          Theatre Royal 1861.
          Photo: Courtesy Fred Page

          10  Spring 2001 CINEMARECORD
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