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Curtain falls on theatre for redevelopment

The curtain has fallen on the Theatre Royal for the last time this year as the $24 million redevelopment project kicks off.

Decommissioning work on the more than 100 year old theatre has now commenced following the Imperial Russian Ballet Company production of Swan Lake on Friday, with the removal of key lighting and rigging systems.

Timaru District Council Group Manager Commercial and Strategy, Donna Cross said that the final decision to close the theatre enables the new project team to hit the ground running with the redevelopment.

“We were looking at the possibility of keeping the theatre open for longer, albeit in its under-utilised state, but we had concerns over the viability and safety of both the flying and lighting systems, so have decided that the best decision is to close the theatre now to allow decommissioning to commence, and provide the new project team better access as we move forward to the design phase.

“The ballet was very well received by the audience; and it proved a fitting show on which to finally drop the curtain on the theatre.

“It’s a poignant moment for those who have been a key part in helping keep the theatre running all these years, but there’s also the excitement that we’re going to be starting work to secure its future as one of the region’s best venues, putting us back on the map for touring shows.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to acknowledge our team and Theatre Technician, the Friends of the Theatre, all the local technical and service providers as well as the local drama and dance groups that have really made the Theatre Royal the centre of art and drama in Timaru over the years.”

The next show booked for the Theatre Christmas at the Proms, being presented by Operatunity, as well as their future productions, are now being held in Caroline Bay Hall, with all tickets valid for the new venue. Council staff are currently working with other groups who have booked the theatre to assist with alternative arrangements.

The upgrade of the Theatre Royal was one of the major issues consulted on at previous Long Term Plan in 2018. There was overwhelming support for the upgrade of the theatre, with 78% of respondents supporting either a full or stage upgrade.

The upgrade will be undertaken as a combined project with the building of a new heritage centre, adjacent to, and joined with, the theatre on Stafford Street as part of a massive regeneration of the area.

“The combined Theatre Royal and Heritage Hub development will be a great resource for Timaru going ahead, not only will it offer a modern theatre ready to take the latest shows, but a safe place with space to grow our heritage collections.

“This new multi-purpose centre will deliver improved cultural, entertainment and recreational opportunities for our community and visitors, and a fit for purpose facility for local groups and touring shows.

“This is a big project, that will take some time to see through to completion, but it will have a transformative effect on the south end of Stafford Street and help breathe new life into an important heritage building.”


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