History Of The Regal Theatre
The Regal Theatre is located on the corner of Hay Street and Rokeby Road and is a much loved Subiaco icon.
In 1937, playwright Dorothy Hewett's father, A J Hewett, and her maternal grandfather, Ted Coade, commissioned and built a "hard-top cinema" on the site of the former Coliseum Open Air Gardens. It is believed the Coliseum was the first theatre built in suburban Perth to show moving pictures. The design for the new cinema was attributed to architect William G Bennett based on a sketch design which originated in the office of William T Leighton, and it is considered one of the most important examples of art deco architecture in Western Australia.
The Regal was named after King George VI who, at the time of opening, had recently ascended the throne, and who was later acknowledged by the installation of a crown and lettering spelling out the cinema's name in neon over the front entrance.
The new cinema was officially opened on the evening of 27 April 1938. It was a glamorous affair and the inaugural program included Shall We Dance with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Love Under Fire with Loretta Young and Don Ameche
Whilst it is believed that in 1946 the Hewett family sold Clarence (Paddy) Baker the Regal and the outdoor picture gardens situated directly across from the Regal in Rokeby Road, the Landgate Certificate of Title states it officially passed to Paddy in 1951.
Paddy Baker had been associated with the picture industry since childhood. For many years he toured around the state showing cartoons, films and newsreels, and was a familiar figure in most country towns. At the Regal, he established a highly successful Saturday afternoon Children's Film Club and his day-time movies were popular with young mums who were able to leave their baby in the pram, park it in the foyer and if the baby cried, the allocated parking bay number was flashed on the screen and the mother then sat in the sound-proofed "Crying Room" situated at the rear of the theatre. For many years, the theatre was also a popular venue for Surf movies, Kung Foo and Chinese movies on Sunday nights.
In 1976, Stan Bird and John Thornton leased the theatre from Paddy Baker and established the Regal as a performing arts venue. The Regal is now one of the major venues operating in Perth and since 1976, around 400 shows, artists or acts have been presented in what is now a highly successful and very popular theatre.
Paddy Baker died in 1986 and willed the Regal to be held in Trust in perpetuity for the people of WA. It is now managed by Kim Knight and administered by the Regal Theatre Foundation (formerly the Baker Theatre Trust).
The Regal was placed on the State's heritage list of buildings in 1994. It is listed with the National Trust and is registered with the Australian Heritage Commission.