Minerva Theatre, Sydney

Exterior of the Minerva Theatre in Kings Cross, circa 1939
Minerva Theatre, Sydney
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The Minerva Theatre on Orwell St, Kings Cross in Sydney, after it opened in May 1939.

Named for the Roman goddess of wisdom, it was principally a live theatre venue and was flanked by a cafe and nightclub.

The theatre stands on the site of Orwell House, a colonial mansion that was demolished in 1937. 

Orwell House was built by John Stephens, who later became the first Solicitor-General of New South Wales. It occupied the first land granted by Governor Darling in the Kings Cross-Potts Point area and was the first house built (construction began in 1829) along the ridge of the Woolloomooloo Peninsula.

After ten years as a stage venue, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) bought the Minerva Theatre in 1948. Now known as the Metro Kings Cross, it played first-run films before being sold to Greater Union in 1969.

It reverted to live theatre with the blockbuster stage musical Hair, which successfully ran for two years. The Metro alternated film and theatre in the 1970s before Greater Union sold it in 1979.

Briefly a food outlet, Kennedy Miller Mitchell Productions (Mad Max, Babe, Happy Feet) acquired the premises in 1982 and is still there 35 years later.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen