Plaza Arcade, Hay Street Mall,
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Hoyts' Plaza Theatre was opened on Perth’s Hay Street in 1937 and had a seating capacity of 1,314. Built on the site of the former Majestic Picture Theatre, the theatre was part of a new arcade development linking Hay and Murray Streets. The arcade remains one of Perth’s busiest, while the theatre has been closed and put to other uses in recent decades.
Designed by W.G. Bennett in association with Melbourne’s H. Vivian Taylor, the facade of the theatre/arcade is narrow but dramatic, presenting a stylised skyscraper effect in classic art deco fashion. It opened a year in advance of the rival development of the Piccadilly Theatre (still operating) and Arcade, located 60 metres further to the west on Hay Street.
Like its late-1930s rivals – the Piccadilly and the Metro (on William Street) – the Plaza offered a new level of comfort for Perth’s movie-goers. Unlike the vast atmospheric Ambassadors (across the street from the Plaza) and the monumental Capitol Theatre (on William Street), the new-wave art deco cinemas were compact and stylishly modern.
The Plaza underwent an extensive upgrade in 1965, re-opening with “The Sound of Music”. With increased capacity, a new screen and plusher appointments, the Plaza became Hoyts' premier theatre in Western Australia, home to the blockbusters. In 1974, or thereabouts, Hoyts chose (for reasons unknown) to re-name the theatre the Paris. Soon after, Hoyts relinguished their lease to the Ace Theatre group. With the advent of the multi-screen central city and suburban complexes, The Paris was shut down, briefly becoming a youth disco.
My first experience of the Plaza was in the late 1950’s when, as a very young child, I saw Michael Todd’s “Around the World in 80 Days”. My one memory of the film is of Shirley MacLaine about to be burnt alive on the funeral pyre. It still gives me nightmares!
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