A brief history of Sydney’s top 5 theatres

Do you love the theatre as much as we do? There’s something quite special about the buzz that is created. Whether it’s a play, a musical or a concert, we love to watch a show. And luckily for us, we have some amazing theatres right here in Sydney – all with their own unique history.

So, we’d thought we’d take you on a quick tour of five of our favourite Sydney theatres, along with a brief history of each of them. 

The Capitol Theatre

Although the building has been around since 1892, it didn’t become a theatre until 1927. Before that it had been the Belmore Markets and a hippodrome designed specifically for the Wirth Bros Circus. 

When it was a circus, it had a reinforced concrete water tank 12 metres in diameter and 3.6 metres deep for performances by seals and polar bears. It’s a tank that still exists under the floor of the modern day theatre. 

In 1928 the new Capitol Theatre opened its doors to a stream of audiences which continue to flow through to this day. It has weathered a few storms, like avoiding demolition in 1970, until in 1981 it was overtaken by the Heritage Council. They spent over $30 million on its restoration and created the world-class lyric theatre it is today.. 

The State Theatre

The theatre opened its doors on 7 June 1929. A vision of Stuart Doyle, owner of Union Theatres and revered architect Henry White. They wanted it to be seen as “The Empire’s Greatest Theatre” and designed it as a picture palace. It was a stage set for countless performers and films to entertain millions of future customers. 

The Lyric Theatre

Opened in 1997, it’s the newest and most innovative theatre in Australia. It’s a staple of the NSW musical theatre scene and has hosted many World Premieres like Strictly Ballroom the Musical and Dream Lover. It also hosted the Australian premieres of Legally Blonde the Musical, Beautiful, The Carole King Musical and Matilda the Musical.

The Wharf Theatres

Home to Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Dance Company, there are two theatres in play – Wharf 1 Theatre and Wharf 2 Theatre. Here you’ll find fully flexible theatre spaces which can accommodate the creative needs of all productions. 

Before or after the show, you can enjoy a stroll to the end of the wharf, a drink and a bite to eat at the Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf; all whilst enjoying the stunning Sydney harbour views. 

Sydney Opera House

Of course we couldn’t go past one of Sydney’s most iconic theatres and music halls, the Sydney Opera House. Despite the estimated cost of $7 million, the final cost of the architectural masterpiece was $102 million – largely paid for by the State Lottery. 

Construction began in 1959, took 10 years longer than expected, and involved 10,000 construction workers. The build took a total of 14 years to complete. 

In 2007, it became a UNESCO World Heritage listed site.