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Paragon rebirth: Tasmanian art deco theatre reopens for business

Paragon Theatre Queenstown
The Paragon Theatre in Queenstown is restored inside and ready to go.

ABC News: Henry Zwartz

Queenstown's historic Paragon Theatre held its grand opening on Saturday after extensive renovations.

The art deco cinema is now a multi-purpose venue that can host gigs, plays, and functions including weddings.

The Paragon first opened on October 28, 1933 with the crime comedy She Done Him Wrong, starring Mae West.

Co-owner Joy Chappell thought opening on the same date with the same film would be symbolic value for an old institution given "another chance".

"I'm passionate in restoring this theatre for the sake of the town, and keeping the soul of the place," she said.

"When you look around Queenstown today you have to think tourism is the future for this place, but besides the pub there isn't much night life.

Interior of Paragon Theatre Queenstown
Co-owner Joy Chappell says a passion for the theatre drove her renovation efforts.

ABC News: Henry Zwartz

"Our theatre is about bringing some night entertainment back to this place, while also maintaining an important historical building."

The theatre was a centrepiece for the town when it opened in 1933 — but fell into disrepair in the 1980s when it was sold and turned into an indoor cricket ground.

The vintage seats and wood panelling on the second level were ripped out and painted green.

The theatre then sat derelict until Alex Stephens, a doctor from Zimbabwe, bought and restored the building in the 2000s.

Dr Stephen ran it as a luxury cinema until 2012 when it was sold.

Mrs Chappell and her partner and fellow co-owner Anthony Coulson bought the theatre in July after leasing it for about nine months.

Projection room Paragon Theatre.
The future of the multi-purpose theatre can be glimpsed from the old projection room.

ABC News: Henry Zwartz

Extensive work on the theatre is still required, including a refurbishment of some of the floorboards.

Mrs Chappell estimated that a further $250,000 was needed to fully bring back the cinema to its former glory.

In the meantime Mrs Chappell will be encouraging people to walk through the large wooden doors and enjoy the 1930s atmosphere.