Fundraising Efforts

The Isaac Theatre Royal has been extremely lucky to have received tremendous support in our effort to repair and restore the theatre after the earthquakes.

See current fundraising efforts

The ITR is grateful for these incredibly generous offers of support:

Special Fundraising Shows Bring in $500,000 for the Isaac Theatre Royal

More than $500,000 has been raised for the restoration of Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal through three special theatre fundraisers in the past two months enabling repair work to finally begin on the 104-year-old Heritage theatre.

The Hobbit star Sir Ian McKellen performed 15 shows in 11 centres throughout New Zealand in May and June, raising $354,000 from ticket sales, programme sales and donations in exchange for photographs and autographs. Earlier in May, British actor Miriam Margolyes performed a fundraiser in Christchurch raising $10,000, while last week’s Christchurch performance by the Flight of the Conchords and a recent personal donation from actor and writer Richard O’Brien has brought the total raised to well over $500,000. He said he was astounded by the generosity, the funds raised mean that work can start on Monday on the iconic dome of the theatre.

Photo by DEAN KOZANIC The Press/Fairfax

“What Sir Ian, Miriam, Richard and the Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement have done has been overwhelming. The last two months touring with Ian McKellen on Stage and seeing the outpouring of support from people around New Zealand has just been incredible.”

Ian McKellen says that he’s thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to create a special show and perform it around the country, opening in “Stratford on Patea” and taking it to audiences in small and large theatres from Auckland to Wanaka, Palmerston North, Tauranga and even Carterton.

Highlights of the tour included the opening performance in Stratford’s King’s Theatre with Mastermind winner and Shakespeare expert Ida Gaskin in the audience, being challenged by a seven-year-old wielding Gandalf’s sword in Palmerston North; catching up with Lady June Hillary at the show in Auckland; discovering a long lost cousin in Hawke’s Bay and having a special ring made by the makers of the ‘One Ring’ in Nelson.

The tour finished last weekend with the penultimate sold out show at Wellington’s Opera House with cast members from The Hobbit including Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Billy Connolly, James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner in the audience and later joining Sir Ian on stage for the encore and helping gather more than $10,000 in public donations from the collection buckets alone…

All the venues sold quickly meaning that many people missed the opportunity to see a show that will never be stage anywhere else in the world. A TradeMe page will be launched this week to offer the final few hundred show programmes signed by Ian McKellen so that those who missed out can still own something unique to New Zealand and still donate to the fundraising cause.

Sir Ian commented in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, “It was a show absolutely for New Zealand. It is absolutely for Christchurch and for the people who wanted to come along. I like that. I think people have sensed that this is really for us. For me, it’s been a very, very merry thing to do.”

Mr Cox said Sir Ian’s contribution will never be forgotten in Christchurch and in special recognition of Sir Ian’s overwhelming generosity one of the Royal boxes at the restored Isaac Theatre Royal, known as “The Bard’s Box” for its bust of William Shakespeare, will become the Ian McKellen Royal Suite.

“It’s been a very special two months and it’s been my great pleasure to do something to help the Isaac Theatre Royal. The theatre is one of the few historic buildings in Christchurch to survive the earthquakes and it is wonderful to know it can be rebuilt and serve as a beacon for Canterbury people. To Ian, Richard, Jemaine, Bret and Miriam, our heartfelt thanks and appreciation”

Work to rebuild the Isaac Theatre Royal began at 6am on Monday 2 July when contractors Naylor Love prepared to lower the historic ceiling dome into the stripped-out auditorium to signal the start of a repair and enhancement project that will span 18 months and cost in excess of $28million, funded largely by insurance with fundraising continuing to raise the remainder of the $6million shortfall. The original and spectacular ceiling dome is famous for its Italianate painting of scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was painted by G.C. Post of the Carrara Ceiling Company of Wellington.

The Dome at the OTR

It has been a unique highlight of the Theatre Royal's interior since it opened in February 1908. The Theatre with its elaborate fibrous plaster decoration of walls and painted dome was considered at the time one of the best of its type in the southern hemisphere.

Mr Cox said the full repair programme will see the theatre open in a ‘transitional’ format in July 2013 for three months before closing again completely between October 2013 and April 2014 “when ‘the Grand Old Lady’ will finally reopen again in her full restored and upgraded glory”.

Six-year-old boy pushed the implosion button to help the ITR!

Jayden Halliwell from Queenstown has become the first person ever in New Zealand to blow up a building when he pushed the button on Sunday August 5 that imploded the 14-storey Radio Network House. The right to press the button for the first implosion of the quake-damaged Radio Network building was auctioned on Trademe. Jayden is currently being treated for Wilms’ tumour, which is cancer of the kidney.

The winners of the Trade Me auction to implode the Radio Network House – seven Christchurch demolition companies and one Auckland demolition company – wanted to give this opportunity to a child who truly deserved it. They offered the opportunity to the Child Cancer Foundation who nominated Jayden.

The ITR thanks the eight demolition companies - Christchurch’s Shilton and Brown Demolition, March Construction, D Construction, Jurgens Demolition, Dormer Construction, Pro Tranz Contracting and Clampet Developments and Auckland’s Ward Demolition. Neil Cox, General Manager for the Isaac Theatre Royal, says the final bid of $26,000 will be put towards the heritage restoration of the Theatre Royal’s façade. The Government will match the bid amount and this money will go towards restoration of private heritage buildings.

Trade Me said the auction was the third most viewed auction of all time (see Top 11) with 459,420 views, 113 bids and 243 questions asked in the question and answers. The implosion took place at 8:00am on Sunday August 5. See video.

Miriam Margoyles joins the ITR fundraising campaign

Miriam Margoyles, of Harry Potter and Blackadder fame, donated her spare time during her nationwide tour of 'Dickens’ Women', on Friday 11th May, to perform a very intimate and exclusive one-off performance.

Margolyes says she felt incredibly sad when she heard about the damage. "Everyone has to do what they can… Theatre is not just entertainment, it is about a place in your soul. I am thrilled to have the chance to help the Theatre Royal. And if I can make people laugh too, that’s a bonus."

Read more about Miriam's show…

Read the press report

The Bitches’ Box” Fundraiser Performance

The Isaac Theatre Royal was delighted to announce a special rebuild fundraising performance: The Bitches’ Box – devised by Amelia Guild and Emma Newborn

The Bitches' Box"The Bitches’ Box" is a fast paced comedy show that toured the South Island in early 2012. It returned to its Canterbury roots and presented a special fundraiser show at Christ’s College Old Boys’ Theatre on August 25th 2012 to help the continuing fundraising for the restoration of the iconic Isaac Theatre Royal.

For Amelia and Emma to offer to do this special performance for the ITR was just astounding. It's tough enough out there on the NZ theatre touring scene for fringe theatre artists so fundraising through their hard-earned profession and rare talent is extremely admirable. When ITR opens again these ladies deserve a show of their own on our stage. ” Neil Cox - General Manager, Isaac Theatre Royal.

This performance adds to money raised fom the generosity of Sir Ian McKellen, Miriam Margoyles, Richard O'Brien and the Flight of the Conchords’ which is contributing to the restoration of the Theatre.