Original look for historic theatre

The restoration of Christchurch’s historic Isaac Theatre Royal will take the building’s facade back to its original look for the first time in nearly a century.


The Isaac Theatre Royal in 1907

Theatre chief executive Neil Cox said about six layers of paint had been removed, revealing ‘‘very distinct’’ red ochre bricks.

The original bricks were left untouched after it was built in 1907, but were covered up with paint sometime between 1915 and 1925.

‘‘As we went through the [restoration] process there were actually thick coats of paint on there from different parts in the theatre’s life. One was even a green colour, which we’re hoping was an undercoat.’’

The most recent coat, painted in the 1980’s, left the theatre a ‘‘drab brown’’ colour, Cox said.

Those rebuilding the theatre after Canterbury’s earthquakes decided to leave the restored facade unpainted to prevent moisture problems and remove the need to repaint it every five years.

‘‘It’s been a painstaking process. We’ve had to be very careful because we didn’t want to damage the bricks.’’

The new look was ‘‘very exciting’’, Cox said.

‘‘We really owe it to the theatre to restore the facade back to what it originally was. I don’t think anyone in our generation has actually seen it.’’

The restored theatre was due to reopen sometime between mid-October and early November, Cox said.


  • The Press
  •  Nicole Mathewson

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