THE old Bulli Royal Theatre, later known as the Vista Theatre and currently operating as Fernwood Gymnasium (2015) at the corner of Hopetoun Street and the Princes Highway at Woonona was once a venue for vaudeville during the late 1920s.
JIM GERALD. AUSTRALIA’S KING OF COMEDY AT ‘ROYAL,’ BULLI, AND TOWN HALL THEATRE, WOLLONGONG.
Direct from a tremendously successful five months’ season at Pullers Theatre, Sydney, by special arrangement with Union Theatres Ltd., Fullers’ Theatre Ltd., will present Jim Gerald, Australia’s King of Comedy, and his famous musical Revue Company at the ‘Royal’ Theatre, Bulli, tonight, Friday, September 20th.
The theatre goers of the South Coast now have the opportunity of witnessing this talented company of 24 selected artists, who have hitherto confined their entertaining to the capital cities of Australia. Jim Gerald, whose name is the national by-word of unrivalled musical comedy entertainment, has recently returned from a world tour and he has brought back with him the very latest and liveliest ideas of revue and stage presentation. He is bringing the pick of his tremendous array of clever, mirth-making ideas to the South Coast and his entertainment promises to be an unprecedented success.
Beautiful girls – delightful dancing – gorgeous costumes – glittering pageant – melodious singing and brilliant ballets, with the one and only Jim Gerald, the Prince of Jesters, presenting comedy unequalled. As Jim Gerald and his musical comedy company are universally popular and consequently in great demand among the greater cities of the Commonwealth his season is limited to one performance only at the ‘Royal’, and all lovers of real stage entertainment should make tonight a Jim Gerald nigh – a gala evening of laughter and song.
Jim Gerald (1891-1971), Circus clown, acrobat, comedian, pantomime dame, revusical writer/producer, songwriter, film actor/director/screenwriter. Considered one of the five great post-WWI vaudeville comedians (along with Stiffy and Mo, George Wallace and Bert Le Blanc), Jim Gerald started out as child circus performer before establishing himself as a pantomime dame, comedian and sketch artist, first with Stanley McKay and later with the Fullers. After returning from WWI he and his wife Essie Jennings appeared with the Walter George Sunshine Players before establishing their own revusical troupe. Gerald toured the troupe throughout Australasia during the 1920s and early 1930s and then went on to star in revue and on radio up until the 1950s.
– South Coast Times Friday 20 September 1929.
Source: Australian Variety Theatre Archive. Popular Culture Entertainment: 1850-1930 – www.ozvta.com