Earthquake Updates


Mercifully the Grand Old Lady of Christchurch Theatre just about survived the massive earthquakes and considerable aftershocks that rocked the city in 2010 & 2011.

She is now well on the way to full restoration and repair, with the current target of November 2014 for reopening. Some extensive earthquake strengthening work undertaken in 1998/99 without doubt saved this 100 year old Heritage building from complete collapse but some significant deconstruction was required to secure the remaining structure and protect the key interior and exterior heritage elements.

Follow the build progress in our photo gallery. Read the latest Project Update.


The earthquake recovery in Christchurch’s CBD is continually gaining momentum, but a major anchor project for the rejuvenation of the arts community in Canterbury will be achieved when the most iconic and historic entertainment venue in the city, the 106-year old Isaac Theatre Royal, reopens her doors for performances on 17th November this year. The ‘Grand Old Lady’ of New Zealand theatre has been a ‘shining light’ in the recovery process of the city gaining recognition and support across the globe. The rebuild of the ITR has been affectionately entrenched in the emotional mind set of Cantabrians and has been a regular good news story across national media in the recovery of the city and region as a whole.

After nearly 4 years of closure, during which a $40 million rebuild and restoration has been undertaken following the 2011 earthquakes, the central city’s most famous heritage theatre will once again stage the type of large scale theatrical productions she has been famous for since first opening in 1908. The ‘ITR’ is the preferred venue for major local and touring productions in the city hosting musicals, ballet, plays, opera, film, concerts, comedy, recitals, community events, children's theatre and even ice shows. The theatre has staged the best in the world and the best of our own world-class talent during its illustrious 106-year history. The Isaac Theatre Royal is being restored once again to her superb original Edwardian-style, and will be celebrated once again as the South Island’s premier venue for the performing arts.

The Grade-A heritage listed Theatre Royal was the only surviving Edwardian style theatre in the country. The building was saved from demolition in the early 1980’s, refurbished and upgraded to World Class theatrical production standards in 2004 and renamed “ISAAC THEATRE ROYAL” after re-opening mid 2005. After surviving the devastating seismic events of 2011, the theatre has once again underlined her intent and commitment to be one of the finest heritage stages for all performing arts in Christchurch for the next 100 years at least! Continue reading the full Press Release...

Watch more about the reconstrction from TV3 news...

See a progress video that aired on CTV on Thursday 29 May

A Vision of the Future

This is the design concept for the restored Isaac Theatre Royal façade from architects Warren & Mahoney when she reopens later this year. Click on the picture for a larger image.

Read more in an article in The Press 12 May 2014

Isaac Theatre Royal Future Vision



The Board and Management of the Isaac Theatre Royal would like to thank every single person involved in the ITR rebuild for their hard work and dedication to the massive task of rebuilding the city's most cherished arts and theatrical performance venue. It has been a challenging past three years and has not been an easy road by any means with a project that has evolved from an initial (very hopeful..) $10 Million repair to an eventual (close to) $40 Million rebuild!

However on 9th December 2013 the rebuild reached a huge milestone and a very important celebratory part of the process with the installation of the first roof truss for the new ITR auditorium & foyers. This has only been achieved through the commitment and passion of the entire rebuild team (including everyone who has been involved along the way), to reinstate our "Grand Old Lady" and bring major arts performances back to the central city in mid to late October 2014.

The massive steel roof truss lift went like clockwork and the placement onto the 32 bolts was precision and is a demonstration of what can be achieved, when dedicated teams work together setting a precedent of what can be achieved over the rest of the rebuild project.

A huge thank you to all the team, to all our supporters, donors, funders, our insurers and all our friends around the city, country and the world.

Neil Cox - Chief Executive, Isaac Theatre Royal

Roof Truss on Ground Side View
Roof Truss in Air Roof Truss in Place


Stuff Video on the restoration of the dome - August 2013

Suff Video on the restoration of the dome

TV3 News Report on the rebuild the theatre - March 2013

Video outlining plans to rebuild the theatre - May 2012

Blueprint plan for central Christchurch

The Christchurch Central Development Unit Blueprint announcement has been very well received. The plan has been described as visionary, brave and re-energising and we think those descriptors are accurate. Download the Central City Recovery Plan, the Central City Recovery Plan Summary or view the introductory video.

Isaac Theatre Royal Transitional Opening 2013

After much deliberation based on the excessive additional costs to achieve and the significant risk potential for both the ITR and more importantly its clients, it has unfortunately become necessary to abandon the plans for the theatre's proposed ‘transitional’ opening between July and September, 2013. Every possible consideration was given to make this work and provide a temporary ‘Bare Box’ functional theatre of between 800-950 seats during that period to stage some very important local, national and international performances and celebrate the return of a major programme of Arts events back into our recovering CBD.

With costs escalating as well as the considerable added pressure it would have placed on the long term recovery programme of the ITR however, the Theatre Royal Charitable Foundation simply cannot justify the additional risk and cost, on top of a growing rebuild budget of close to $30M.

We look forward to being able to confirm re-opening dates for the ITR for the 2nd quarter of 2014 very soon.


We've kept our Royal Friends and interested parties aprised of the Theatre's situation with regular updates. You can see them here:

Royal Friends Newsletters

Theatre progress reports:
August 2012

March 2012

December 2011

July 2011

April 2011

Fundraising Efforts

Rebuild and Reconstruction Photos

Earthquake Damage Photos

The ITR, inside the cordoned off Red Zone.