There seems to be a lot of demolition going on in Perth at the moment, and a lot of my childhood seems to be going with it. The Francis Street Museum building is going, the big shed on North Quay in Fremantle (we did a primary school visit to that one!) But the demolition that evokes the most nostalgia is that of the Perth Entertainment Centre.
When it opened in 1974 it was the biggest proscenium arch theater in the world, with a seating capacity of 8003. It was also bright orange (good 1970s style). An aside: who remembers the bright blue (Perth, now cream coloured Rydges Hotel) and bright red (Sydney) Flotta Lauro buildings of the same era?
It was a great building for spectacles, not so great for anything more intimate, even in its theatre configuration (where they closed off the upper tiers of seating). That said, I’ve got lots of happy memories of many many shows there, starting with very first show, Disney on Parade, and ending with Phantom of the Opera in 1998 (four years before the Centre was mothballed in 2002).
What did I see there? These are what I remember (with the help of a look through my programme collection), and yes, given the venue my list is skewed to big spectacles, most of them presented by impressario Michael Edgley.
- Disney on Parade (1974/5, I think I remember some Disney on Ice as well but don’t have a programme to confirm the dates)
- London Festival Ballet with Rudolf Nureyev (1975 and 1977)
- The Mikado (1977, with June Bronhill, more on that later)
- Siberian Cossaks (1976)
- The Great Moscow Circus on Ice (1978)
- Evita (1980, matinee, front row seats, confronting and fabulous)
- 1980 or 1981 chaperoned a friend’s daughter to The Police, hated how loud it was (I’ve always been funny that way)
- David Bowie, Serious Moonlight (1983, nearly missed it as I was out sailboard racing and had to be brought in late by the rescue boat)
- International Ice Spectacular with Torville and Dean (1984?)
- Richard Harris in Camelot (1984)
- Torville and Dean the World Tour (1986)
- Rocky Horror Show (1988, with a VERY young Russell Crowe playing Eddie/Dr Scott “1988 looks to be a productive year for Russell” says the programme!)
- The Great Moscow Circus (early 90’s, don’t have a programme but I remember going!)
- Phantom of the Opera (1998)
- Numerous church and school things…
If you want to see some pictures of the Entertainment Centre over the years, there are some treats in the State Library of WA’s pictorial collection! I have more demolition pictures in this set on flickr. If you want to read some other Perthites waxing nostalgic over the Ent Cent, have a look at this blog entry and comments from The worst of Perth.