Theatre Royal, Sydney

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Theatre Royal
Address108 King Street
MLC Centre
OwnerMLC Centre
Current useClosed
ArchitectBarnett Levey

Coordinates: 33°52′05″S 151°12′32″E / 33.868°S 151.2088°E / -33.868; 151.2088

The Theatre Royal in Sydney is Australia's oldest theatrical institution, though the theatre building itself is modern.

Sydney's first Theatre Royal was built in 1827 behind the Royal Hotel, by Barnett Levey, whose widow sold it to Joseph Wyatt, owner of the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1838; it burned to the ground in 1840.

The name was dormant for 35 years until 1875 when a new Theatre Royal was built for Samuel Lazar in Castlereagh Street on the corner of Rowe Street, adjacent to the Australia Hotel; the theatre was leased by J C Williamson's from 1882 until 1978. The interior of this theatre was substantially remodelled in 1921 by architect Henry Eli White.[1]

In 1971-2 the theatre, along with much of the block on which it was situated, was demolished to construct the MLC Centre. Public agitation and action by construction unions once it was closed to save it resulted in the developer Lend Lease incorporating a replacement 1,180 seat theatre into the design. Designed by Harry Seidler, along with the rest of the complex, the current Theatre Royal opened in 1976, with entry from King Street, between Pitt Street and Castlereagh Street. Designed in a plain modernist style, it offered a broad range of entertainment including dramas, comedy, and especially musicals since the 1990s.

The theatre closed in March 2016 amid development of the MLC Centre and calls for a new larger Lyric Theatre to be built. [2][3][4][5]

In March 2019, the NSW Government announced it had taken on a 45-year lease of the theatre from the MLC Centre developers, with the intention to re-open the venue with a private operator.[6]


  1. ^ "Theatre Royal". Dictionary of Sydney. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Theatre Royal". Archived from the original on 6 April 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  3. ^ "Theatre Royal". Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  4. ^ "Theatre Royal". Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  5. ^ "Producers push for new lyric theatre in Sydney". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  6. ^ "The Show Goes On for Sydney's Theatre Royal". The Urban Developer. 18 March 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019.

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