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40.  The Kyabram Plaza Theatre                            by Mike Purden & Kevin Simmons


                                           Plaza Theatre 1995 - Photo: Alan Windley
            One of the first films screened in Kyabram was the silent production of "Quo Vadis" in 1913 at the Mechanics
            Hall.  In October of 1925 an open air theatre the, "Lyric", was successfully launched behind what is now known
            as Hilton's Electrical. Rows of canvas seats and a sweets stall added to the comfort of patrons, and they were
            entertained with perfect projection and splendid music. An orchestra consisting of a piano, three violins and a
            cornet dispensed a program of sweet music,  which the audience was not slow to  appreciate. Scarcely two
            months later a second theatre, the ''Paramount", opened in a quadrangle behind the Mechanics Hall. lts superiority
            over the "Lyric", if any, lay in the more subtle balance achieved by the instruments of the orchestra, which in
            this case were a violin, cornet, mandolin and cello. A third open air theatre was operated by an American, Mr.
            Badbard, next to Campbell's Tyre Service. This theatre only had a piano to accompany films until talkies.

            In  1928 the  Kyabram  Free  Press  announced  Mr.  Lewis  H.  Day would  be  erecting  a  new cinema, theatre,
            playhouse and  dance palais in Allan Street, billed as the "Showplace of the Valley".  Designed by Dunstan
            Reynolds and Partners of Temple Court, Melbourne, the building would not only serve as a picture theatre but
            would provide an excellent dance floor of 1 00 ft. x 54 ft. on the ground floor for large gatherings, and a similar
            floor, 64ft. x 36ft. on the balcony floor for smaller functions. The main street frontage would comprise a central
            entrance 20 ft. wide, with a large shop on either side. Access to the stalls from the entrance foyer was by means
            of a double doorway and two staircases 5 ft. wide leading to the large balcony foyer above.

            The stalls would seat approximately 750 persons, the seating being moveable allowing the area to be converted
            into a large ballroom. The northern end of the auditorium would contain the orchestra pit, stage (35ft. x 17 ft.)
            and dressing rooms either side. The balcony, seating approximately 270 persons, was reached from the balcony
            foyer by means of two short stairs, and provided a comfortable view of the screen to all patrons. The walls of
            the auditorium were finished internally in a rough textured sand finish, and coloured in appropriate tints. The
            walls of the foyer were plastered and panelled out in  attractive stucco treatment, which provided a pleasing
            scheme of decoration.

            The ceilings throughout the building were of stamped steel in appropriate designs, in keeping with the remainder
            of the  building.  The projection  room  was  located  outside the  rear wall of the main auditorium,  behind  the
            balcony, providing ample accommodation for machinery and incidental equipment, and easy access was provided
            from the balcony foyer without entering the auditorium. The construction was brick, the facade to Allan Street
            being finished with simple ornamental treatment in cement, and coloured. The completion of the building was
            scheduled for December 1928, or January 1929.

            Movies did not commence until Saturday, May 25th, 1929   2 ,  showing silent films, and talkies were shown by
            the Hoyts "Talkie Road Show" in 1930. On Saturday, February 7th, 1931, the theatre started showing talkies,
            using its own newly installed Western Electric sound system.
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