BALLARAT’S Academy of Music was built in 1874-75 by landowner and philanthropist Sir William Clarke Bt at the behest of a group of community-minded gentlemen of the newly proclaimed city. On Clarke’s death in 1898 the building was acquired by new owners and the present double tiered European-style auditorium with decorative dome was fitted. On re-opening, the theatre was re-named Her Majesty’s, commemorating Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Throughout the 20th century the theatre hosted touring entertainments and international stars such as Dame Nellie Melba. In 1965 Her Majesty’s was saved from demolition by the Royal South Street Society, with generous assistance from the state Government, and re-named RSSS Memorial Theatre,
In 1987 the theatre came under the ownership and operation of the City of Ballarat, once again as Her Majesty’s Ballarat. On June 7 the theatre will celebrate its 140th anniversary with a gala concert, co-hosted by Constance Coward-Lemke and Bruce Roberts.
With music that includes Chopin, Bizet, Lloyd Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein and songs from The Merry Widow, Les Misérables, Carousel and The Phantom of the Opera it promises to be a night full of memories, celebration, music and much more.
Performers for this special event include: Roger Lemke; Jason Wasley; Maxine Montgomery; Zoe Drummond; pianists Peter Toohey, Nathan Chua and Cooper Harwood; Suzanne (Donald) Ribet; Gwen Kennelly; Ballarat Symphony Orchestra; David Johnston on the Compton Theatre Organ; artists from BLOC Music Theatre Inc., Ballarat Lyric Theatre Inc.; Ballarat National Theatre Inc;. and students of Federation University Arts Academy; with extra special guest, Australian theatre legend Nancye Hayes
Her Majesty’s Ballarat is Australia’s most significant, in-tact and oldest continuously operating purpose-built theatre, the Grande Dame of Lydiard Street, as she is often known, her Majesty’s life and place in the community is celebrated by those who know her best.