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RANKING REGENTS:                   relationship to the interior of the
                                             theatre, nor hints at the riches to be
          An Architectural Critique, by an   found inside.
          Unqualified Critic. - Brian Pearson.  Melbourne, on the other hand, has a
            It would be safe to say that the  restrained form which enhances the
          majority of those who admire the   already fine streetscape of Collins Street,
          magnificent chain of theatres erected in  and an inviting and most impressive
          the mid to late 1920s by Hoyts Theatres  ante-foyer which facilitates the approach
          Ltd. have a particular fondness for the  to the main foyer steps from the steeply-
          one where they first experienced the  sloping footpath outside.
          magic and luxury of a true picture   Sydney’s long and most impressive
          palace, a magic enhanced by the music  frontage deserved preservation as an
          of a mighty WurliTzer pipe organ. I am  ornament to George Street. The exterior
          no exception. Two theatres hold a  and the foyers should have been
          particular place in my heart - Adelaide,  retained as part of a new complex,
          my first and still great love, and  perhaps a luxury hotel, when the
          Melbourne for its grandeur, and because  theatre itself was demolished.
          of the prolonged battle to save it from  Finally Adelaide. The theatre was
          the wreckers.                      unfortunately denied National Trust
            I have often discussed the       registration as a notable building, but  Regent, Adelaide c.1938. The vertical
          comparative architectural merits of the  its facade to Rundle Street was  neon, with space for announcing the film,
          various theatres with which I am   classified. It is arguably the finest  was replaced in 1940.
          acquainted, both as an enthusiast and as  exterior in the street, and would not be  When an arcade was put through
          a long-time projectionist, and have  out of place on any great European  the theatre and extended to Grenfell
          strong opinions about what constitutes  boulevard.
                                                                               Street, the excellence of the frontage
          good theatre architecture. Many
                                                                               was acknowledged by the fact that a
          readers, perhaps most of you, will  Hoyts’ Regent Theatres:          simplified version of it was erected on
          disagree with me, but at least the  A Family Tree                    Grenfell Street.
          resulting exchanges of opinion will be
                                              Architect:  Cedric Ballantyne:
          interesting and fun for us all.                                      Foyers
                                              South Yarra  25 April 1925
            I believe that the perfect theatre will                               Brisbane and Melbourne share what
                                              Sydney      9 March 1928
          have an auditorium with fine                                         might be called Hollywood Gothic
                                              Ballarat    7 April 1928
          proportions and unobstructed sightlines.                             ornamentation - reminiscent of Gaudi's
                                              Adelaide    29 June 1928
          It will be richly but tastefullydecorated,                           Barcelona follies. Whereas in
          provide excellent facilities for the  Melbourne  15 March 1929       Melbourne the staircases disappear in a
          comfort of its patrons, have a stage  Architect:  Charles Hollinshed:  mysterious but inviting manner up each
          which is adequate for live performances  Fitzroy  30 March 1929      side of the foyer to re-appear at the
          as part of the program, and present an  Brisbane  8 November 1929    mezzanine balcony, the foyer in
          imposing facade to the streetscape.                                  Brisbane is just a large rectangular
                                                Cedric Ballantyne, the doyen of
            I propose to discuss four city                                     space with a marble staircase that
                                              Regent style, had opportunities to
          Regents and those suburban and                                       seems strangely diminished by the
                                              work and re-work the form
          country theatres in the chain which had                              ornamented balustrades. To my eyes,
                                              (CinemaRecord 40). His rival in
          particular features of note. Most of                                 the plasterwork appears to have been
                                              Regent skills was Charles
          them are, or were, characterised by a                                applied in an unimaginative manner.
                                              Hollinshed. Both men also designed
          semi-circular proscenium arch of                                        Brisbane has the further
                                              Regent theatres in New Zealand.
          perforated plaster modules that were to                              disadvantage of a narrow ante-foyer
                                                Hollinshed’s Regent Fitzroy
          be found at their finest in the Regent,                              and ticket lobby, and a mezzanine foyer
                                              (CR43) departed from the Ballantyne
          Sydney and Regent, Adelaide.                                         which are quite fine in themselves and
                                              model in its emphasis on a long,  architecturally consistent, but with
          Frontage                            vaulted foyer. His Regent Brisbane  absolutely no relationship whatever to
            The relatively narrow Brisbane and  (CR 49) copied much of the Collins  the main space.
          Melbourne facades cannot compare    Street foyer. As in Melbourne, the
          with the impressive sweep of the    Brisbane auditorium was influenced  A break of style is true also of
          Sydney and Adelaide versions.       by American trends, though no one  Melbourne, which was originally to
          Brisbane's would be tasteful enough for  has named a specific theatre as the  have unity of decoration from street to
          an office building, but it bears no  inspiration.                    proscenium arch, but fell victim to the
                                                                               whims of influential members of the
          12  2006 CINEMARECORD
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