Hobart’s Theatre Royal was once called by Noel Coward “a dream of a theatre”, and Sir Laurence Olivier told Tasmanians in the 1940s to “never let it go”. Located near Sullivan’s Cove, a short walk from trendy restaurants and historic taverns, this renowned institution is Australia’s oldest working theater.
The Royal was built among brothels, factories and housing in the 1830s; some of the building was made from convict-hewn stone. The beautiful dome, which features portraits of famous poets and composers, was added at the beginning of the 20th century. A smaller studio, the Backspace, was added during restorations in the 1980s and is now used for smaller, more intimate productions.
You can expect to find every form of performance here, from contemporary live music, to opera by the Theatre Royal Light Opera Company and international singers. Catch a circus or cabaret act, comedy and contemporary dance, or storytelling as only the theater can produce in these atmospheric surrounds.
Hear all the tall tales and history of the theatre on a 45-minute tour run by the Friends of the Theatre Royal. Walk onstage to see the theatre from the actors' view, and tour the changing rooms, including older ones used by Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh in the 1940s.
Learn about the famous actors and performers who have performed here over the years, from mime Marcel Marceau to Hugo Weaving (of The Matrix fame). It’s even rumored that the ghost of an actor lurks backstage. “Fred” was killed in a brawl in the bar that operated beneath the auditorium during the 19th century. There is a fee for the tours, which take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday when rehearsals are not taking place.
Check the theatre’s website to find out what’s playing on your visit to Hobart. The Theatre Royal is located in central Hobart.
There’s a pay parking lot nearby.