Theatres/Venues 4a: Adelaide


aka Bosley’s Vaudeville Hall

(1913) Dale Street, Port Adelaide.

Port Adelaide’s Dale Street Vaudeville Hall opened on 24 March 1913 with Fred Bosley’s Vaudeville Company. The building had formerly been used as Salvation Army barracks. After an initial three months season the hall was leased by Fred World, with Bosley returning in late July, followed by Will George (Barton’s Frolics) and Val Lee (Aug.) Prior to Lee taking over the hall it was briefly used for both skating and variety entertainment. It is presently unclear what became of the hall from late August onwards as advertisements appear to have ceased in the newspapers currently available through Trove.



aka Empire Picture Palace / Star Pictures

Empire - Port Adel [E 1 Nov 1922, 95](1910-1960) 78 St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide.

The Empire Picture Palace opened on 7 November (although still incomplete) under the management of Lennon, Hyman, Lennon. Live vocal performances were given by Miss Elsie Stewart. As with many other cinemas operating during the 1910s/1920s it was common practice to have vaudevillians or concert singers entertain audiences – mostly between, but sometimes during, film screenings. In 1920 the venue was bought by Adelaide film exhibitor/ entrepreneur Dan Clifford as part of his Star Pictures chain. It re-opened on 5 April as The Star, with Frank Parsons (the “Singing Parson) as feature guest. During most of the 1920s Clifford’s chain of Star theatres  included vaudeville performances as a regular feature.

The opening of the Star Theatre in 1922 saw Clifford operate simultaneous film screenings at the Port’s Semaphore Wondergraph. By the 1930s he had also effectively turned his chain into a film only operation.
Image source: Everyone’s (Sydney) 1 Nov. 1922, 95.



(1866-) St Vincent Street.

Port Adelaide Town Hall [SLSA]The original Port Adelaide Town Hall opened on 29 August 1866. As the suburb’s only significant venue up until the early 20th century, the 1,000 seat auditorium was used for official functions, community events and both local and touring entertainments. Extensions and upgrades to the Town Hall were carried out on a number of occasions, principally in 1884, 1939, 1959 and 1997. Numerous minstrel and vaudeville companies appeared there over the years, with the first professional troupe possibly being the Lancashire Bell Ringers (25 Sept. 1866). An Amateur Christy’s Minstrels company played there two nights later to raise money for the purchase of a piano.

Some of the big name vaudeville and entertainment stars to have played the Port Adelaide Town Hall include Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels (1886), Carl Hertz (1897), Leslie Brothers Minstrel and Specialty Co (1898), Pope and Sayles‘ Minstrels (1903), Hanco “The Handcuff King” (1910), Daisy Jerome (1916), and Odiva’s Seals (1922).
Thanks to Meredith Blundell (City of Port Adelaide Enfield Library) for research assistance. Image source: State Library of South Australia.



(1851-1866) Cnr St Vincent and Commercial Road (now 74 Commercial Rd)

Situated next to the White Horse Cellar, the Port Theatre was built for George Coppin and John Lazar, and seated up to 400 people. After several delays it opened on 25 June 1851 with an evening comprising a couple of farces and a ballet (by the Chambers Family). Up until the erection of the Port Adelaide Town Hall in 1866 the Port Theatre was the town’s primary venue for both theatrical entertainments and community events. Among the acts and touring companies to play there were the Nelson Family (1853), Tyrolese Minstrels (1855), Anna Bishop (1856), San Francisco Minstrels (1860), Campbell’s Minstrels (1864), and Smith, Brown and Collins’ Christy Minstrels (1865).

The building formerly known as the Port Theatre is heritage listed, and as such is the third oldest remaining theatre structure in Australia – after the Theatre Royal (Hobart, 1837) and the Queen’s Theatre in (Adelaide, 1840). After closing as a theatre (ca. 1866-67) part of the building was occupied by Knapman’s Brewery.


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Published on April 18, 2014 at 1:36 am  Comments Off on Theatres/Venues 4a: Adelaide