Stepping out of InterContinental Perth City Centre and onto the boutique sidewalks of the King Street Precinct, you’ll find yourself alongside the stunning exterior of His Majesty’s Theatre.
Believed to be the only remaining working Edwardian Baroque theatre in Australia, His Majesty’s Theatre has played host to worldwide musicals, ballet, opera, plays and many other spectacles that have woven the cultural fabric of Perth since its opening in 1904.
But the history of entertainment in the King Street Precinct didn’t just begin when His Majesty’s Theatre opened in 1904.
Before there was the Theatre, there was first an empty paddock at the corner of Hay and King Street and at night this paddock came to life with performers of all kinds who drew in bedazzled Colonial crowds eager to be entertained in these rough pre-Federation times.
Opening during the Gold Rush in November 1896, Ye Olde Englishe Fayre came to this corner when entertainers George A. Jones and George R. Lawrence built a canvas al fresco concert and variety stage, providing lavish marvels and novelties for the weathered crowds gathered.
On this corner, Leoni “The Cat King” Clarke brought the amazement of animal training with his incomparable collection of 170 cats, rats, mice, hares, rabbits, monkeys, canaries, cockatoos and more.
People could gather around and see astonishing acts like the Baldwin Cat climb a rope 50 feet high and descend in a parachute.
It was also on this corner where the people of Perth were introduced to the magic of moving pictures for the first time by American magician Carl Hertz and his wonderous cinematographe machine.
Ye Olde Englishe Fayre spanned for several summers before making way for the construction of His Majesty’s Theatre in 1902.
One could say that Perth’s beloved Maj has stood the test of time because it was built upon a bedrock of entertainment, set deep in the foundations of where it still proudly stands today.