240 Exhibition Street,
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The Comedy Theatre is located directly across the street from Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was built on the site of the Hippodrome Theatre, a circus and melodrama theatre. Built for the J.C. Williamson Theatres chain it opened on 28th April 1928 with W. Somerset Maughan’s play "Our Betters" starring British actress Margaret Bannerman who was especially brought over from London. Designed by theatre architect Charles Neville Hollinshed in a Florentine style on the exterior and a Spanish Renaissance style internally. The original seating capacity was for 1,008 in stalls and circle.
It has always been primarily a playhouse, but in the 1930’s and more-so during World War II in the 1940’s when stage productions were scarce, it reverted to screening films.
For many decades now, it has been back in use as a live theatre with seating for 562 in the stalls and 435 in the dress circle. The Comedy Theatre is now controlled by the Marriner Theatres group. It houses the annual Melbourne Film Festival in August.
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