Four months after reopening her doors for performances and events and over four years since the closure of the most famous heritage theatre in the city, during which a $40 million rebuild and restoration was undertaken following the 2011 earthquakes, the Isaac Theatre Royal will finally hold its first public Open Day on Sunday 8th March between 1.00 – 4.00pm.

Working alongside the Theatre, the Arts Foundation and Boosted are aiding in the significant fundraising programme at the ITR that will help recover some the costs incurred in the rebuild and invite Cantabrians, Kiwis and the World to join celebrate this new and splendid central city venue. Take the Stage is a crowdfunding campaign match $-for-$ by the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust targeted at raising $150,000 by mid April to assist in servicing some significant commercial loans the Theatre Royal Charitable Foundation incurred to complete the $40million rebuild and restoration. A donation of just $5 admission fee (or more if you feel inclined) is requested for entry to the Open Day on Sunday, children under 12 are free.

Visit for full details of the campaign or see the theatre’s website at for further details and a full calendar of forthcoming events at the Isaac Theatre Royal. We hope to see many Cantabrians on Sunday and look forward to showing off our new spectacular central city heritage theatre.

The 2014 reopening season at the Isaac Theatre Royal included SOLD OUT performances from Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Kostroma Russian Dance and concerts from iconic folk/rock artists Jethro Tull and Joan Armatrading amongst various local community events drawing overwhelming public responses and packed houses

The ITR closed again for most of January this year to finish vital works and undergo a thorough cleaning and this week the digital film equipment has been installed to complete the new technical enhancements in the rebuilt, restored and recreated heritage theatre.

Now those works are complete the reopened Grand Old Lady will open her doors to the people of Christchurch this Sunday to walk through the beautifully restored theatre and see the full extent of the restoration that took 3 years and $40million to bring back to life.

The Isaac Theatre Royal is steeped in over 100 years of rich history that has seen presented both New Zealand’s and the world’s best performances to her stage. An artistic and cultural epicenter to the region, the theatre has entertained countless audiences in its illustrious life.

The theatre’s famous 1908 hand painted canvas ceiling dome has been painstakingly restored to its original glory and has been a key focal point of the restoration for many of the theatre’s supporters. Italian restorer, Carolina Izzo and her team have cleaned the canvas panels individually for over 100 years of dust, grime and nicotine revealing the true beauty of the painting for the first time in over a century. The painting inspired by scenes from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is now considered to be the largest of its type still existing in Australasia and will be a major attraction itself in the rebuilt theatre.

The original façade of the theatre has also been stripped of six coats of paint and restored to its original 1908 appearance of red brick with white Oamaru stone columns and capitals. Many other key heritage features have also been retained and restored including the marble staircase between stalls and dress circle levels as well as original leadlight windows and royal boxes.

Outside of a massive upgrade to structural strengthening meeting 100% of new seismic building codes, the rebuild also includes some significant enhancements to the pre-quake theatre’s functionality. The installation of a much desired elevator facility to all levels of the Theatre, opening up the top 2 levels of the historic venue to all members of Canterbury community for ease of accessibility.

The installation of an hydraulic stage lift platform has allowed for the front of the stage to be extended a further 2.5 metres into the auditorium in front of the proscenium arch providing significant improvement for orchestral & choral performance at the venue. When not in use, the platform can be situated at auditorium floor level allowing for an additional two rows of seating at the front of the stalls level.

The top level of the theatre previously known as “the Gallery” has been renamed “The Grand Circle”, with its own brand new foyer space and plush bar facilities. All theatre patrons can now gain access to the beautiful first floor Dress Circle foyer and the new foyer and function space on The Grand Circle top level.

As with any heritage theatre venue though the most spectacular level is the Dress Circle and probably the most significant enhancement is the addition of the brand new Gloucester Room, a 175 square metre separate multi-functional flat floor performance space adjacent to the theatre’s existing Ravenscar Dress Circle foyer. The space can be opened up completely to effectively double the Dress Circle foyer space. This new space has excellent acoustics, easy accessibility through the existing Ravenscar Dress Circle foyer, and varying seating capacity for 70-120 as a flat floor venue for small theatre productions, rehearsals, concerts, expos, seminars, meetings, weddings and banquets, presentations, small conferences, exhibitions, catwalk events, social functions, recitals, etc.

The Isaac Theatre Royal has been restored to her superb original Edwardian-style, and is once again celebrated as the South Island’s premier venue for the performing arts underlining her intent and commitment to be one of the finest performing arts stages in Christchurch for the next 100 years at least!


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