Centennial Hall (Brisbane)

Like many theatre spaces Centennial Hall underwent several transformations during its life as a performance venue.  Situated in Adelaide Street in the block between Albert and Edward Streets, it was on the opposite side of the road from the current Adelaide Street entrance to the Brisbane Arcade.  It had a flat auditorium floor making the venue suitable for dances and balls as well as seating 700 people; a further 300 could be accommodated in the gallery (Treading the Boards 29).  When it first opened in 1888 it was used as a skating rink.  The Brisbane Liedertafel used Centennial Hall as a music venue in the 1890s. 

In 1906 the Hall was taken over by C.J. West who turned it into West’s Olympia which was a bioscope theatre which ran until 1910 (Treading the Boards 29).  From 1940 to 1941 it was known as the Comedy Theatre where, after initially presenting comic plays it became a weekly-change vaudeville venue.  At this time it was promoted as “The Permanent Vaudeville Home” (Courier-Mail 2 Jan. 1941: 13).  The theatre subsequently fulfilled a new entertainment function in wartime Brisbane in its days as the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom.  Fire damaged the building in April 1942 and dances were temporarily suspended.  “Owing to Fire at Comedy Theatre the Cocoanut Grove Dance will be held to-night and every night (until repairs effected) at the Catholic Leader Hall Opp. Centenary Park” (Courier-Mail 14 Apr. 1942: 7).  The final metamorphosis was into the Guild Café Theatre (1946-c.1950) which presented theatre restaurant performances (Treading the Boards 29).