154 Flinders St, Forum Theatre (9299 9700).
History: The Forum Theatre was originally known as the State Theatre.
American theatre specialist John Eberson and Melbourne architects Bohringer,
Taylor & Johnson created a 4,000 seat picture palace complete with artificial
sky, stars, clouds and the statuary of a Florentine garden for the Union Theatre
Chain in 1929.
The exotic exterior and interior were designed to compete with the Regent (in
Collins St) and reflect the highly popular social and cultural activity of theatre
going at the time. The period reflected Hollywood's first golden age and patrons
were invited to indulge their fantasies; the auditorium has a Florentine garden
flavour, a Florentine temple (with a statue of the Venus De Capua) lined by
Cyprus trees and statues of Diana of Versailles and Discobolus. Venus Di Medici
stands nine feet tall under a cerulean blue (an imported colour) ceiling imitating
the Mediterranean night sky, including faithful positioning of the stars. The
theatre was also air conditioned by heated or cooled water!
Hollywood's golden age eventually tarnished and picture going declined. By
1961 Greater Union converted the State Theatre into two theatres. Today the
Forum (original stalls) is a cabaret venue seating about 800, but still under the
starry sky. The original dress circle upstairs is now a 500 seat theatre.
Access: Access from Flinders St is best towards the corner with Russell St. An
accessible unisex toilet is located up a short grade near the Russell St exit. The
cabaret venue has booths, tables and chairs making awkward viewing access
for a wheelchair so ask to sit at the front where tables are placed on the flat and
are better spaced.
191 Collins St, Regent Theatre (9299 9500).
History: The Regent was opened in 1929, three weeks after the State Theatre,
and was one of Victoria's largest cinemas during the inter war period. Originally
designed for live theatre it became a picture palace and even the administration
centre for the Hoyts chain of cinemas.
CINEMAS & THEA