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Wondergraph Theatre, Adelaide

 

What was possibly Adelaide's third theatre organ was to be found at the Wondergraph Theatre in Hindley Street. The theatre opened on 5 September, 1913 [Ross Thorne, Cinemas of Australia via USA, Architecture Dept., University of Syndey, 1981, p. 378], and was perhaps the most opulent theatre yet in Adelaide. It seated 1800, and was reported to have cost nearly £60,000 ["The New Wondergraph Theatre", The Advertiser, Adelaide, 5 September, 1913, p. 19.].

[photo: State Library of South Australia No.B4475]

["The New Wondergraph Theatre", The Register, Adelaide, 5 September, 1913, p.15]

There is no mention in these press reports of the organ, which was a small Fotoplayer (Style 35) of two ranks (Flute and String) only. An early photograph shows it, almost hidden behind a large cabinet of rolls, at the extreme left-hand side of the orchestra pit, partially covered by the overhanging proscenium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enlargement of left side of pit, showing roll cabinet and outline of Fotoplayer

 

[photo from Ross Thorne, Cinemas of Australia via USA]

 

It is presumed that the instrument was installed from the opening of the theatre. In addition to its pair of pipe ranks, it contained three sets of harmonium-style free reeds, a glockenspiel, various effects and percussions and a duplex roll-player.

Stoplist of the Organ

 

In 1917, it was removed to the Glenelg Theatre, in the seaside suburb of Glenelg, and its subsequent history is described here. 

 

[photo (right): State Library of South Australia No. B13642.77]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wondergraph theatre was taken over by Union Theatres in 1929, and was renamed the Civic in 1940, when some of its elaborate exterior décor was removed. In 1956, it was again remodelled, and was renamed the State Theatre (although it did not reflect the luxurious State theatres in Melbourne and Sydney).[Ross Thorne, Cinemas of Australia via USA, Architecture Dept., University of Sydney, 1981, p. 380]. It closed in approximately 1976.

 

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