The history of the Star Court Theatre
The Star Court began it's genesis as the Diggers Theatre in Woodlark Street next to Lismore’s Commercial Hotel. Then it was an open air theatre with a canvas roof, hardly protection from the Northern Rivers driving rain. In 1920 a prospectus was issued to raise money to build a bigger and better space for the company and $22,000 was raised and TJ Dorgan built what we know today as the Star Court Theatre and Arcade with it's twenties brick facade.
The Star Court Theatre was the first major venue for musical and theatrical events in Northern NSW, opening with much fanfare on 18th July, 1921. With a seating capacity of 1500 and with dimmer lights, plush seats and quality acoustics, the Star Court was aptly named. Musical Festival Society productions as well as ABC Celebrity Concerts and other live performances were held as well as the screening of the ever popular feature films.
With the arrival of sound in 1929, Mr Dorgan announced the theatre would be equipped with RCA Photophone and the entire theatre was refurbished with carpet throughout and new seats were installed in the Dress Circle with new drapes and furnishings. The Star Court reopened on November 4th, 1929 with a gala viewing of MGM’s Alias Jimmy Valentine.
Matinees were added to the schedule with screenings on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and each program was enhanced with leading Vaudeville artists. TJ Dorgan died in 1944. Fred Kehoe was manager from 1934-63.
The Star Court changed hands in the 1960s, first to North Coast Theatres and later to HJ Harder. In 1963 the stalls were sealed off and an arcade of shops built into the space. The upstairs balcony was altered and made into a new proscenium. Birch Caroll and Coyle acquired it in 1980 and refurbished it resulting in a seating capacity of 450. It was renamed Cinema Lismore.
With the trends of the time a multiplex cinema complex was built and the theatre was sold to prominent businessman, visionary and mentor Dr Floriano Volpato in 1996. In the same year, Dr Volpato was warded a medal in the General Division of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the community and for saving a valuable resource, The Star Court Theatre, from an uncertain future.
Today, his son Nicola Volpato is committed to his father’s vision by rekindling The Star Court Theatre’s glory days by creating a space rich with avant-garde cultural flavours.
Managed by Court Stars Entertainment