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Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, International | 0 comments

Live music in Adelaide’s old cinema hall

One of the fascinating things I find Down Under is the dedicated participation of volunteers in all spheres of life – cultural, educational, economic and social. It is because of the involvement of the volunteers that Capri Theatre, one of the oldest cinema Halls in Adelaide (the capital city of South Australia), has become a rallying point for those passionate about movies, live theatre, music or comedy. This is heartening because in the world’s big cities the old and historic cinema halls are being replaced by multiplex cinema complexes.

Built in 1941, the Capri Theatre reflects the elegance of the Art Deco/Modern architecture era, with its original and tastefully restored features. It is staffed by volunteers and home to the world famous ‘Wurlitzer Organ’ which plays pre-film music on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. When my wife and I visited Capri Theatre recently, we were greeted by Malcolm Patterson, of the Theatre Organ Society, and were treated to heart-warming organ, piano, saxaphone and drum music. As also an old silent film, with the organ player providing live background music!

The Capri Theatre is independent in the truest sense. Owned by the Theatre Organ Society of South Australia (SA Division), the Theatre is a not-for-profit organisation run by a network of generous volunteers, and depends on the support of all South Australians to ensure its long time survival. Members enjoy free Club Nights on the second Monday each month, which are mainly entertainment. As also, discounts on concerts in Adelaide, and film sessions at the Capri Theatre. There is a monthly newsletter with theatre organ news, concert reviews, information about events, etc.

The Capri Theatre ‘Wurlitzer’ Organ was installed 1983. It has been progressively installed with pipework in glass-fronted chambers, making it unique in the world as a theatre organ installation. The Inaugural concert of the ‘Wurlitzer’ was held on the 2nd April 1983 at the Capri, with 4 keyboards and 13 sets of pipes (ranks). By 1994, there were 25 ranks (sets of pipes), making it the largest Theatre Organ in the Southern Hemisphere. More here…

The Capri Theatre was opened in 1941 as the New Goodwood Star Theatre in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It was built by RJ Nurse and designed by architect Chris Smith. The Capri originally had a seating capacity of 1,472. The Capri Theatre opened its doors for its first night of trade in October 1941, to a double feature from MGM of ‘Florian’ which starred Robert Young and Helen Gilbert, as well as ‘Dr. Kildare Goes Home’, starring Lew Ayres & Lionel Barrymore.

Greater Union acquired the Theatre in 1947. In 1964, the Theatre was re-branded the ‘New Cinema Curzon’. In 1967 Greater Union undertook some capital works on the Theatre, and reduced the seating capacity to 851. 1978 was the year the Theatre Organ Society of Australia (SA Division) purchased the Theatre and in December re-named it ‘Capri Theatre’.

In 2012, the Capri Theatre upgraded its film technology by purchasing a brand new digital film projector. The projector was purchased with assistance from the South Australian Government by way of a grant, as well a significant interest-free loan from the Unley Council, as all levels of governance recognised the importance of supporting the Capri Theatre, in its need to upgrade its film equipment, as the industry rapidly evolves. To raise funds, the Theatre rents out the premises for concerts, seminars, awards nights, school productions and even weddings.More here…

More about Organ Historical Trust of Australia here…

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