Page 6 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2002 #37
P. 6

The                  Some theatres give up
                                                                                        their secrets grudgingly.

                                                                                        The early years of the theatre
                                                                                        which became The Mayfair
                                                                                        are a bit of a mystery but not
           MAYFAIR                                                                      its last decade.

                                                                                        The Mayfair struggled to find a
                                                                                        loyal audience and relied on the
                                                                                        inventiveness of its management
                                                                                        to stay afloat. Vern Deutsher
                                   Gardenvale                                           recalls his happy time there in
                                                                                        the fifties as Assistant

               he building was of brick         In about 1953 Mel Elliott was   this, booking a special matinee for their
               construction and was situated at  brought into the partnership to manage  language students to brush up on their
         T208 Nepean Highway,                and operate the theatre. Mel had   conversational French or German.
          Gardenvale. The location was on the  started in the industry during the war  The interior was sober but relieved
          inbound side of the Highway near   as an assistant projectionist at a  by simple light effects. The black outline
          North Road.                        number of theatres in the north and  of the proscenium suggested leadlight
            The theatre opened in 1925 as the  west, beginning with the Western  and may have been inspired by Tiffany
          New Gardenvale Theatre. It was said  West Brunswick and later in other  lamps. The patterns and colours looked
          that the theatre had a spell as The  theatres linked to Frank Selleck.  like butterfly wings. Mel emphasized the
          Nepean but I knew it only as the      Two factors helped to turn The  patterns by using the translucency of
          Mayfair. During the Depression, it  Mayfair into profit. Mel was      crepe paper with coloured globes behind
          was closed for several years before re-  resourceful and interested in presenting  it. The globes were changed to reflect
          opening under lease to Selleck and  the interior to best advantage and there  the season; cool colours for summer,
          Ward.                              was the Selleck experience with    warm for winter. Bringing in the ladder
            Prior to the post-depression re-  European films at the Savoy Russell St.  to change burned-out 15 watt globes in
          opening, the auditorium underwent  Audiences in the fifties were jaded by  the shells was routine.
          some cosmetic improvements; an open  much of the standard screen fare and  The auditorium was on two levels.
          weave proscenium, illuminated wall  were prepared to look (at least for a  One CATHS member remembers the
          shells, a lathe and plaster ceiling  time) at continental films. The example  vinyl seats of the stalls as rather
          (except over the stage where it was  of the Savoy meant that the Mayfair  uncomfortable, only the lounge seats
          richly patterned) and ceiling lights  had a running start when it became a  were upholstered in fabric.
          were added. Each ceiling light was a  suburban venue for subtitled films.
          ring of six globes above a pearl saucer.  Schools sometimes took advantage of

          The lounge view. The walls were painted to suggest a  A pattern above the proscenium and a plaster rose
          timber finish. Most of the shell wall lights were lit by  above each light were the ceiling decorations. Large grills
          orange globes. The lowest (front to rear) was yellow, red,  above the exits left and right covered air intake chambers.
          green and blue respectively.                       (Photos courtesy of Ken Newell.)
          (Photos courtesy of Ken Newell.)

          6   2002 CINEMARECORD
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