Theatre Royal opening delayed

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 14:15 25/09/2012

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A repair bill approaching $30 million has forced the Isaac Theatre Royal to delay its opening until mid-2014.

Theatre bosses had hoped to open a "bare-box structure'' seating about 800 people between July and September next year, but those plans have been abandoned as the rebuild budget escalates to nearly $30m.

The theatre had hoped to host the Christchurch Arts Festival, the Royal New Zealand Ballet anniversary and the national opera as a transitional theatre and then close again in September next year for about eight months to complete restoration of the earthquake-damaged theatre.

However, theatre general manager Neil Cox said those plans had been abandoned because of escalating costs.

"It has unfortunately become necessary to abandon the plans for the theatre's proposed 'transitional' opening between July and September, 2013.'' 

He said every effort had been made to create a basic functioning theatre to host key local, national and international performances.

''The Theatre Royal Charitable Foundation simply cannot justify the additional risk and cost on top of a growing rebuild budget of close to $30m.''

Cox said the theatre would now reopen in the second quarter of 2014.

The restoration will retain the modern flytower at the back of the theatre and will restore the foyer and facade. 

The auditorium space is being carefully demolished before being rebuilt.

Samples of the ornate auditorium plasterwork have been saved so the interior can be restored to its former glory.

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