The Theatre Royal is the oldest continually operating theatre on the Australian Mainland, and is of historical and social significance for its long and continuous associations with popular forms of mass entertainment since the mid nineteenth century.
As a Goldfields theatre and later as a cinema, it has been highly valued by members of the community as central to the social and cultural life of the area. In 1919, The Royal expanded its entertainment offering to include moving pictures (silent) and became one of the first “picture palaces” in Australia. By the end of WWII, Theatre Royal was playing movies to more than 4500 people every week.
The 1980’s saw the venue revisit live music, hosting shows by local, national and international acts, and in 1985 started to open every weekend with a 3am license as ‘The Pit’ Nightclub. The Pit closed in 1989, and The Theatre Royal reopened as a family-orientated cinema and occasional live venue with new owners and a refurbishment – becoming one of the country’s leading regional music venues.
In 2016, the Theatre Royal was relaunched in its current guise: a bustling bar & cafe, thriving independent cinema, Bistro Lola, and of course, an excellent & diverse program of live music from across the world.
In the past 15 years, The Theatre Royal has played host to acts including: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan, Dirty Three, Paul Kelly, Billy Bragg, Calexico, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Cat Power, Kurt Vile, Kid Congo Powers, The Drones, Total Control, DD Dumbo, Courtney Barnett, Michael Hurley, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Archie Roach, Mulatu Astatke, The Necks, J Mascis, Sun Kil Moon, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever; and been a host to a myriad of events including: Castlemaine State Festival, MIFF Travelling Film Festival, Castlemaine Pride, Castlemaine Jazz Festival, Country Daze Festival and more.