Theatre Royal

Also known as:
Miller Arcade

The Theatre Royal in Hindley Street was Adelaide’s best known and most loved theatre. The first Theatre Royal was built in 1868 to the design of Thomas English. This rapidly proved inadequate, and in 1878 the building which was to serve Adelaide for eighty-four years was built. It was designed by a Melbourne architect, George R. Johnson, who also supervised the work. A simple building, it was carefully detailed and well proportioned, the central part being divided into three bays by Corinthian pilasters and topped by a balustrade with urns and the royal coat of arms.

The interior, which was on three levels, with boxes both sides of the stage, was fitted out at a cost of 5,000 Pounds. Note the strict segregation of patrons – pit and gallery were reached by the lane on the left, the stalls by the narrow door second from the right, and the dress circle by the wide entrance far right. In 1884, Wright and Reed made extensive alterations to the interior of the theatre; it was reconstructed again in 1913-1914. Performers at the theatre included J. C. Williamson, Sarah Berhardt, Nellie Stewart, Walter Montgomery and Sir Lawrence and Lady Oliver.

In 1962, the theatre was demolished by Miller Anderson and Company, an Adelaide department store, and an exceptionally ugly multilevel carpark was built on the site above “Millers Arcade”.

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ACH Status:
Heritage Protection:

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12 thoughts on “Theatre Royal

  1. You can add Vivien Leigh, whose birthday at would have been today. I saw her as a pre-adolescent at the Theatre Royal in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream around the early 1960’s.

  2. I was nine when I attended my first theatrical experience. The production was Salad Days in 1958. My mother was a maid at the South Australian Hotel in North Terrace and one of the cast gave mum tickets for our family to attend. We were a family of five but I can’t remember if we all went. I wore a grey frock with pleated skirt, a pink bolero with pink socks & gloves to match and red shoes! My love of live theatre thus began!

    • Sounds like a terrific night out – did your mum have any other interesting encounters in her time at the South Australian Hotel?

  3. Hi, my Dad was the commissionaire at the theatre for over 10 Years and died just months before that disgusting board of Directors of Millar Andersons demolished the Magnificent Theatre Royal.. I was 11 when I started working there 6 night’s a week and also for the Saturday matinees. I worked there until I was 17. The firm, Tandy’s employed me who looked after the tray boys. It was great work ethic learning experience.. Has held me good all my life as I’m now 78. and still fit.

    • Hi Damian – we’re not sure of the exact date of its demolition but given its inclusion in the 1962 Festival program it would have happened some time after March.

  4. The last performance in the theatre was the Bolshoi Ballet on July 14, 1962. Unsure of the day demolition started but by September 18, 1962, the sheets were off the roof and the upper tiers of seating were being pulled apart.

  5. Could it possibly have been Twelfth Night? I can’t see anywhere that she was here for Midsummer Night’s Dream. A delight, either way, I’m sure.

  6. We have several high back Dress Cycle, Lounge theatre chairs (Maroon) for sale.
    They came out of Sydney’s Her Majesty Theatre.
    Also some carpet.
    We are at Miranda N. S. W. Southern Area..
    Are you interested, We saw how you are restoring the Theatre Royal.

    Phone No: 02 95232423.