Theatre Royal sets opening date

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 07:55 04/06/2014
Isaac Theatre Royal
Dean Kozanic/Fairfax NZ

GOLDEN TOUCH: Guillaume Camus gilds the plasterwork of the dome in the Isaac Theatre Royal.

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The restored Isaac Theatre Royal will reopen in central Christchurch on November 17.

The theatre, which has been closed for four years, will reopen with a season including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Southern Ballet, The Phantom of the Opera and an unnamed British folk rock band of the 1970s, to be announced in mid-June.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's production of A Christmas Carol will start in November, with tickets on sale now, while the CSO will perform A Cantabrian Christmas on December 20.

The rebuild and restoration of the theatre is progressing well. Restoration workers are applying gold and brass leaf to the reinstalled dome in the ceiling of the main auditorium, while the Gloucester St facade is being cleaned and repointed.

Theatre chief executive Neil Cox said an official opening date meant solid bookings could now be made for events in 2015.

The New Zealand International Film Festival is booked into the theatre for every August from 2015 to 2019, Christchurch Arts Festival events may be held there next year and the theatre may host evening shows for the World Buskers Festival in January. The Phantom of the Opera will come to Christchurch in April or May next year.

Cox said he would now start to move from project management to preparing for the opening.

"My sleepless nights will turn from the money to actually getting everything ready. It is an enormous task," he said.

"The fit-out includes everything, right down to simple things like eftpos machines. We have to kit out all the bars. I just hope everything is all right on the night and if it isn't, no one notices."

The $40 million restoration includes lift access to all floors, an extendable stage, a new foyer and bar for the upper circle and a 175-square-metre performance space.

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