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Show goes on for art deco Sydney masterpiece

Published: 17 December 2020
Released by: Minister of State

Sydney’s striking Metro Theatre built in the golden age of Hollywood has been listed on the State Heritage Register protecting the much-loved architectural and cultural icon, the NSW Government has announced. 

Situated in inner-city Potts Point, the building opened in 1939 as The Minerva Theatre, a 1000-seat live theatre said Minister for the Arts Don Harwin. 

It was renamed The Metro Theatre in 1952 with proprietors Metro Goldwyn Mayer screening first release films including the The Forsyte Saga and Disney classics such as The Parent Trap and Mary Poppins. 

Live theatre returned to the venue in the late 60s, hosting the long-running hit musical Hair, launching the careers of Reg Livermore, John Waters, Marcia Hines and others.

The Metro was home to celebrated film production company Kennedy Miller, whose  contribution to Australia's motion picture industry includes Oscar-winning films such as Mad Max, Babe and Happy Feet. 

“The Metro forms an important part of the history of theatre and cinema in NSW, bracketing the boom of theatre development in the 1930s and television and film until the early 2000s,” Mr Harwin said. 

The listing of the Art Deco building on the State Heritage Register acknowledges the impassioned pleas of the community. 

The theatre is also significant for its association with people who made notable contributions to the arts and cultural history of NSW. 

One of the most famous theatre and cinema design teams of the 1920s-1930s, Guy Crick and Bruce Furse, played a key role in its design, and it is a rare example of an Interwar Functionalist style and Streamline Moderne features.  

The interior, particularly the auditorium, is acknowledged as one of the finest and most striking of any theatre built in Australia during the 1930s. 

“The auditorium's sweeping curved ceiling and dramatically backlit proscenium makes a powerful visual impression,” Mr Harwin said. 

Listing will ensure The Metro’s significance will be protected for future generations, with any major changes now requiring the approval of the Heritage Council of NSW.

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