Silver Lining for Earthquake Damaged Theatre.

Silver Lining for Earthquake Damaged Theatre.

David Spicer reported yesterday (September 6, 2010)  that following severe damage to Christchurch's historic Art Deco Repertory Theatre during last weekend’s earthquake, which reached 7.1 on the richter scale, the theatre was set to be demolished.

An update from Christchurch Repertory Theatre’s Treasurer Blair Kershaw now paints a more optimistic picture.

"Our heritage theatre in Kilmore Street looks sad at first glance with crumbling facade and the green room open to the wind and rain. But behind the scenes there is a different story. A committee member and I walked through the building yesterday and were amazed to see everything appeared undisturbed - the auditorium, stage area, fly tower and dressing rooms intact. Even the stacked cups on the kitchen shelves hadn't moved, neither had the mirrors propped up on dressing room benches. The historic proscenium seems undamaged.

"Of course we await a proper inspection, but Charles Luney knew how to build for posterity so we are hopeful. After 83 years of continuing activity, the show will go on!

"Plans and funding have been underway for some time to restore and strengthen the building, which will be renamed The Charles Luney Repertory Theatre. Ironically a commencement date for the makeover was set only last Thursday for April 10, 2011. It may now be a little sooner!"

The Christchurch Repertory Theatre Society has been performing at its home for 77 years, with Noises Off in October the next scheduled production.

Christchurch’s professional theatre company, The Court Theatre, is also closed until further notice. An inspection today has revealed minor damage to the upper levels of the company’s home theatre. However, a box office spokesperson has told Stage Whispers it is not clear when performances will resume.

Across town the historic Isaac Theatre in the centre of town has escaped with minor damage. The operations manager Lianne Hawthorne has told Stage Whispers, “We are extremely lucky. We have just checked the roof and all that is broken is a bit of masonry.”

The 102 year old theatre with a gorgeous facade has survived because authorities spent $700,000 on a full earthquake strengthening program more than 10 years ago.

Plans for Showbiz Christchurch’s production of Sweeney Todd in a few weeks are now proceeding.

Alas, The Christchurch Repertory Theatre Company attempted to raise funds to strengthen their building but fell short of funds.


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