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In 1910 the Sydney City Council split its Old Belmore Markets site - bounded by Campbell, Castlereagh, Hay and Pitt Streets - into two lots of about 0.2 hectares each and auctioned off 50-year leases. Both successful bidders claimed they would build theatres, but only Thomas Rofe did. His Adelphi Theatre, designed for the entrepreneur George Marlow, had a 18.3 metre square stage behind a 9.1 metre-wide proscenium. Marlow began with Frederick Melville's The Bad Girl of the Family, starring Nellie Ferguson and Robert Inman. George Willoughby managed the theatre from 1912 until 1915, when Marlow resumed management. He reopened a renovated Adelphi on 26 June 1915 with his wife Ethel Buckley heading a 'new and brilliant dramatic company' in Mary Latimer - Nun.
On 23 October 1915 the theatre closed for major alterations. Henry E. White redesigned the auditorium, lowering the lofty circle and gallery to improve sight lines and reducing capacity to 2100. The Adelphi reopened on 21 December 1915 with Dick Whittington and His Cat, starring Carrie Moore as principal boy. In 1916 Marlow's partner Benjamin Fuller took over the stage direction, for vaudeville at first. Then he renamed the theatre the Grand Opera House for a season by the Gonsalez Grand Opera Company from Italy. In the early 1920s Fuller combined with Hugh J. Ward to present musical comedy and drama at the Grand Opera House, but at the end of the decade Fullers' gave up live theatre.
The theatre had a chequered existence until 1932, when Mike Connors and Queenie Paul took it for revue and renamed it the New Tivoli Theatre. In 1934 it became part of the second Tivoli Circuit. From 1948 until the theatre's closure in 1966 revue was interspersed with drama, musicals and opera, performed by local and touring companies. The Old Vic Theatre Company and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company from England performed there. During renovation in 1954 White's rich decoration was removed or painted in a single colour, leaving a bland interior. But the Tivoli remained an asset to Sydney. Its capacious auditorium - 1933 seats at the time of closure and large stage and scenery store made it particularly suitable for touring shows. For a quarter of a century since its demolition in 1969 until the Capitol Theatre was rehabilitated these characteristics were combined in no Sydney theatre. The new developers promised to build a 1300-seat theatre but the part of the site dedicated for this purpose has remained vacant ever since the demise of the Tivoli.
|Title||Tivoli Theatre Sydney 1911-66|
|Source||Philip Parsons, Victoria Chance, Companion To Theatre In Australia, Currency Press with Cambridge University Press, Sydney, NSW, 1995|
|Citation||Ross Thorne, Tivoli Theatre Sydney 1911-66, Companion To Theatre In Australia, 1995, 605|