Chapter 8
Accessing Melbourne
Her Majesty's Theatre
219 Exhibition St, Her Majesty's Theatre (9663 3211).
History:  Her Majesty's Theatre has been described as  the most important
theatre still standing in terms of its contribution to Australian theatre . Designed
by architect Nahum Barnet for French born theatre entrepreneur Jules Joubert,
it is an amalgam of mainly renaissance derived English and French influences.
It opened in 1886 as the Alexandra Theatre in honour of the Princess of Wales.
Billed as the  Australian Theatre  between 1888 and 1893, its name changed to
Her Majesty's in 1900 when famous theatre group JC Williamson's leased and
renovated the theatre. A fire in 1929 destroyed the auditorium and renovations
completed in 1934 saw it reopen as a modern, stylistic and technologically
advanced for Australian theatre. An acoustic consultant was even engaged   a
first in Australia. Over its life, Her Majesty's stage has been graced with
internationally renowned performers: Dame Nelly Melba, 1911, Anna Pavlova,
1926 and Dame Joan Sutherland, 1965.
Access: The best entry is the central one off Exhibition Street, near the bar
where the small step is tiny. There are no accessible toilets and wheelchair
visitors are quarantined to a seating section to the rear of the theatre, it is not a
friendly seating arrangement.
Princess Theatre
163 Spring St, Princess Theatre (9299 9800).
History: Princess Theatre occupies a site associated with theatre since 1853
when a corrugated iron shed was erected and know as Astley's Amphitheatre.
The Princess Theatre was architect William Pitt's masterpiece. In 1886 he
designed a new theatre for a partnership including JC Williamsons, the result
was an exuberant, elaborate theatre with features in the  boom classical
period . It is certainly decorative and ornate and once had an opening roof!
The Princess has its own ghost, Frederici (Frederick Baker) who while playing a
part fell through a trap door and died of a heart attack. The theatre cafe is
named after him, Frederici's (9299 9823).
The theatre was refurbished and changed character twice up to 1986, when it
was brought back to life with a refurbishment to the 1922 grandeur.

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