Bats' new stage opens Thursday

SOPHIE SPEER
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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Remains of The Big Kumara have been peeled away to reveal Bats Theatre's home for the year.

The old student haunt has been transformed into a 78-seat theatre while Bats' Kent Tce premises undergo earthquake strengthening.

Business development manager Chris O'Neill says Bats is on track for Thursday's reopening, with the Fringe Festival play Little Town Liars the first to take to the stage.

One of the bars has been given a fresh coat of paint in the iconic red of the old Bats Theatre.

"People will come here and feel it's a familiar space. They'll recognise the signage, the colours, the people."

A rehearsal space has also been created. It can be used to hold smaller events such as gigs and comedy shows, Mr O'Neill says.

The main horseshoe-shaped bar has been removed, and the theatre area built in its place, recognisably similar to the Kent Tce site, but with six fewer seats.

Temporarily moving the theatre is a chance to test what works and what doesn't before moving back into the old building next year, he says.

The strengthening work at Kent Tce has uncovered treasures including signs of a whaling preparation site, original documents planning the theatre - and a box of unopened, ready-salted potato chips, which were stored in a safe.

Mr O'Neill says moving Bats into the heart of the Cuba precinct opens it up to a new audience.

"For us, it's exciting to be [off] Cuba St. In a way, it feels like a second home for the theatre."

Little Town Liars, a musical comedy exploring the mass hysteria surrounding alien abduction, runs until February 15.

Tickets available from bats.co.nz.

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- Wellington

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