Palais Theatre

1 Lower Esplanade,
Melbourne, VIC 3182

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Palais Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The beautiful Palais Pictures when built had 2,968 seats, and was the third largest theatre in the southern hemisphere, after the State Theatre and Regent Theatre in Melbourne. It opened as the Palais Pictures on 11th November 1927 with Janet Gaynor in “Seventh Heaven”

The Palais Pictures is situated on the Lower Esplanade in the Melbourne sea-side suburb of St. Kilda. Its two domed towers correspond with that of Luna Park (amusement park) which is next door on its southern side.

The Palais Pictures retains all its original decor, except for the dress circle external balcony which has been filled in. The interior auditorium is almost completely untouched except for an addition to the fly tower, the orchestra pit extended and more dressing rooms to accomodate live theatre. Some years ago, the public health authorities insisted that a fire exit be installed on the rear of the balcony, on the northern (Palais de Dance) side. This reduced the seating capacity to 2,896. It was re-named Palais Theatre many years ago.

Many stars have appeared at the Palais Theatre, including: Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, Gracie Fields, The Seekers, Shirley Bassey, George Shearing, Rolf Harris, Shelley Berman, Ry Cooder, Bette Midler, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minnelli and Peter Allen. The musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” played the Palais Theatre in 1973 and 1976. Joan Sutherland appeared with the Australian Opera in “The Merry Widow” in 1979.

It is one of the most beautiful theatres in the Melbourne area and although totally under-utilised, it still had a fairly steady amount of bookings until closing in 2007.

Taken over by the city, plans are underway to fully restore the building, and in September 2010, a grant of AU$2.5 million was approved by the state government. The Palais Theatre is now re-opened as a concert/theatre venue, with occasional film screenings of a specialist nature, film festivals etc.

The Palais Theatre is Listed on the Historic Building Council’s Register.

Contributed by Nathan Last

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Vibzzz on September 21, 2007 at 8:56 am

Seems no one has photo’s of inside of Palais Theatre, this is some of the interior roof domes. They were taken at night, and display the lighting effect. There is 2 pictures of each, one is normal the other is enhanced to provide more detail of the roof artwork on each dome. (Sorry about the full links i dont know how to do the hide and click link thing)

Picture 1. Palais Interior Roof Dome Closest Front of Theatre
Normal: View link
Enhanced: View link

Picture 2. Palais Interior Roof Dome Closest to Stage
Normal: View link
Enhanced: View link

Will be very interesting to see how the domes shape up after the reno, as they are already very impressive despite neglect.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 6, 2008 at 5:16 pm

An October 2008 photo can be seen here.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Here is another 2009 photo.

mancz on December 27, 2009 at 4:35 am

I have recently heard that due to financial hardship from the consortiums funding this ‘Triangle’ project and due to the economic climate, that the project is no longer going ahead – and so too have the $20million dollar plans to restore the theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm


RKLT on June 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The building is open & doing great business with live acts under the new management.

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