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Catch a show in Hobart – visit the Theatre Royal

14 November 2011 No Comment

Theatre Royal HobartHobart is home to Australia’s oldest working theatre, which is also one of its most beautiful.

If you get a chance to catch a play, some comedy, music or dance at during your visit, you’ll be in for more than a good performance. The ornately decorated interior of this historic theatre has to be seen to be believed.

Almost everyone I’ve seen on stage there has commented how lucky they feel to perform in such a beautiful space. Noel Coward famously called it “a dream of a theatre”.

Opened in 1837, the Theatre Royal was designed by Peter Degraves, founder of the famous Cascade brewery. It has walls of convict-carved stone, originally set among the workers cottages, public houses and brothels of Hobart Town.

Much of the Theatre Royal was destroyed by fire in 1984. More than $1 million was raised in a fundraising appeal to carry out the major reconstruction and refurbishment required, and the theatre reopened in March 1986. It was also saved from demolition several times during its history – in most cases defended vigorously by the stars who performed there.

If you’re organising a corporate event in Hobart, keep in mind that the theatre is available for hire outside the public program dates. It would make an amazing venue for a conference keynote.

Like all good theatres, this one also has its resident ghost. According to local rumours, it is the ghost of an actor killed in the seedy tavern that operated beneath the auditorium and had its own entrance into the theatre pit.

If the theatre foyer is full and you fancy a pre-show drink, the Theatre Royal Hotel next door is a piece of Hobart history itself and has comfy couches and a spacious bar area.

Book tickets online before you travel, and try to get seats upstairs in the dress circle for the best views of both the show and the interior design.

If you can’t make a show, volunteers from the Friends of the Theatre Royal give 45 minute tours of the venue on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am, $10 for adults or $8 concession. However, if the venue is in use the tour may not run, so it’s best to call ahead.

For current shows check out the Hobart Theatre Royal website

Susan Moore lives in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. She shares a glimpse of daily life in Tasmania, as written by a “blow in” from the mainland, on her fascinating site Houn View. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive her regular articles.

Image: kevwhelan via Flickr

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