Category Archives: Performers and performances

Claudio Arrau in Newcastle

While the Century Theatre in Broadmeadow (Australia) primarily operated as a cinema, it was also hosted concerts, including by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. On one occasion, Claudio Arrau performed in the theatre, as recalled by Harry Armstrong:

With only a few minutes to go before the famous pianist was scheduled to commence his performance, which was on air too, he had not put in an appearance. Suddenly patrons seated in the dress circle were started to hear someone thundering on the emergency escape doors on the Belford Street side of the theatre. An usherette pulled back the velvet curtains and operation the crash-bar locking device, pushed the doors outwards (the only way they would open) to reveal a hot and bothered Claudio Arrau, resplendent in tails, about to dash into the circle. “You can’t come in here, sir,” said the startled usherette. “Blast!” shouted Arrau, as he turned and dashed down the emergency stairs to the yard adjacent to the stage area.

A well-meaning (?) taxi driver had directed Arrau to the emergency exit from the circle, or else the artist, whose knowledge of English was by no means perfect, had misunderstood the directions. As Arrau shot through the stage door, his knowledge of Australian swear words was quite formidable, according to the door-keeper. The recital started just on time.

J. K. Cork and L. R. Tod (1993) Front Stalls or Back? The History and Heritage of the Newcastle Theatres. Seven Hills: Australian Theatre Historical Society Incoprorated, p.19.