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Ambassador's Theatre, Perth

Photo: all colour photos are believed to be by John Thiele, but I may be incorrect - if so, would the photgrapher please identify him/herself to me

Everyone's 27 July, 1927

The 1993-seat Ambassador's Theatre, Perth, was Australia's second "atmospheric" theatre; it was preceded by the Capitol, Sydney, which had opened earlier in 1928.  Stuart Doyle, Head of Union Theatres, had visited America the previous year earlier, and had imported the designs from John Eberson; they were adapted as necessary by Union's architect Henry White.

Everyone's, 18 May, 1927

Henry White certainly did not have much time to prepare the design for the Ambassador's, for only two months after inspecting the Riveria Theatre, Omaha, plans were ready for both the Capitol, Sydney, and the Ambassador's.  The theory that the interior designs were imported from Eberson's office in  their entirety and merely tweaked as necessary for their Australian locations, thus seems entirely credible.  The external facade that was built was different from that shown on the plan above.

The Capitol, Sydney, opened on 7 April, 1928, thus releasing technical staff to work on the Ambassador's:

Everyone's 4 April, 1928

The Ambassador's opened on 29 September, 1928:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone's 10 October, 1928

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The architectural firm of Bohringer, Taylor and Johnson, provided some interesting comments on the Ambassador's and its construction:

Everyone's 7 November, 1928

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click HERE to view the complete Souvenir Opening Programme 

The Ambassador's organ was described in the theatre's opening brochure as being" the largest Wurlitzer in Australia".[Ross Thorne, "Cinemas of Australia via USA", p. 75.] This was technically correct, in that it was equal in size to the other Style 260 organs already playing at the Capitols in Melbourne and Sydney and the Regent in Adelaide.

The plans for the Ambassador's did not intially include an organ:

"Everyone's", 20 June, 1928, p.6

The organ was Opus 1902, a Style 260 Wurlitzer, with fifteen ranks of pipes and a 3-manual scroll-style console.  Its specification may be found here.  It was the same as the organ at the Capitol, Sydney, in the latter's original form.

As reported above, Leslie Waldron was the opening organist, whose performance of "The Lost Chord" was well received by the audience.

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Thanks to John  Furhmann for this photo from "Weekend Magazine" supplement, Perth Daily News, 22 June, 1968

Jack Laing was the assistant organist - a photograph of him at the console appeared in July, 1929:

Click HERE to view the Ambassador's Magazine for 22 December, 1928

Les Waldron was still at the console in 1930:

Subsequent organists included Bernie Randall, Jimmie Miller and Reubert Hayes.[Max Bell, correspondence 30 October, 1975]  During the 1930s, organists frequently "doubled" at the both the Ambassador's and the Regent.

 

The orchestra was dispensed with in 1931, and the theatre was closed for some months in late 1932, because of falling audience numbers.  It reopened in January, 1933, by which time Hoyts and Union Theatres had merged to form the combine General Theatres Corporation.  When the combine split up  in 1937, the Ambassador's came under the control of Hoyt's. [Les Tod & Kevin Cork, "The Dream Palaces, Part 1 - The Atmospherics", Sydney, 1988, p.13]

Hoyt's did not have the same affection for atmospheric theatres as did Union, and in 1938, much of the interior fittings disappeared. Virtually everything that was not a permanent fixture - doves, statues, etc. - was removed.  At the same time, the exterior was redesigned in "moderne" style.

Photo: West Australian Newspapers

 

"The Broadcaster" 19/9/42

The organ remained until 1946, when it was removed and used to form the core of the new instrument built for the rebuilt Regent, Melbourne that opened in 1947.

A grand piano was placed on the organ console lift platform.

In the 1960s, John Furhmann played a Lowrey organ which was "hooked up to a huge ancillary back stage sound system and Leslie speaker. It was a great sound. We used the set up for a number of the James Bond movies (Goldfinger etc)." [e-mail from John Furhmann, March, 2002]

The Ambassador's closed on 4 February, 1972, and was demolished soon afterwards. [Les Tod & Kevin Cork, "The Dream Palaces, Part 1 - The Atmospherics", Sydney, 1988, p.14]

Below - a ray of sunlight, created by the demolishers, takes the place of the starlight created by Eberson and White - a final view of the Ambassador's auditorium.  

Photo: West Australian Newspapers

 

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