Colosseum

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Origins

The Colosseum Theatre and Picture Palace (or more popularly known simply as The Colosseum), Johannesburg was an Art Deco style cinema built in 1933 by African Consolidated Theatres, Designed by P. Rogers Cooke, with a fantasy-inspired “atmospheric” interior designed by William Mitcheson Timlin of Greatbach and Timlin.The Colosseum Theatre in Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, was opened by General Smuts on 4th October 1933 and became the flagship of African Consolidated Theatres. It occupied an entire city block with a west and east wing containing offices. The theatre had a distinct 'Egyptian' motif on the facade.


Structure

Colosseum Theatre Johannesburg, South Africa Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, South Africa(map) Status: Closed/Demolished Screens: Single Screen Style: Atmospheric, Egyptian Seats: 2279 Chain: Unknown Architect: Percy Rogers Cooke

Inside the auditorium, designed by interior designer William Timlin in a 'castleated' style with turrets and fairy dragons, the stage opening had a large rouged festoon curtain made from crushed velvet material adorning the procenium arch in later years.

It could accommodate full-fledged stage shows as well as movie presentations. A distinct feature was the ceiling of the large auditorium which contained hundreds of tiny concealed lights giving the effect of looking up at a night sky with stars twinkling.

Productions

Among the productions staged there over the years are **. International performers who appeared there include Florence Desmond (1950), * George Formby, comedian and entertainer, appeared here for ACT in 1946. Frances Day did a season here in 1948. In 1950 audienced enjoyed the British entertainer Florsence Desmond, the Irish songstress Anne Shelton, Tessie O’Shea and the South African Eve Boswell. Sophie Tucker played here on her South African trip in 1962. ACT brought The Seekers to the Colosseum in 1966. Henry Ascar was the Colosseum’s manager circa 1967. Jerry Lewis came to the Colosseum circa 1970. Welcome Msomi’s Umabatha starring Welcome and Thuli Dumakudewas staged here in January 1974. Spike Milligan performed here for the Quibells in 1975. Tony Factor produced Robert Sherwood’s The Petrified Forest starring William Smith at the Colosseum in April 1978. The Quibells presented Spike Milligan here in 1979. **** (Tucker, 1997)

The end

On the verge of being demolished in 1981, but due to strongly expressed public sentiments this was prevented. However, it finally succumbed to developers anyway in 1985, when it closed, demolished and an office block named Colosseum built on the site.


Sources

Contributed by John Ferreira at http://cinematreasures.org/theater/12569/

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