Repair work begins on 104-year old building
Over $500,000 has been raised for the restoration of the Isaac Theatre Royal, allowing repair work to begin on the 104-year-old heritage building this week.
Three fundraising events for the theatre have been held in the past two months.
The Hobbit star Sir Ian McKellen performed 15 shows in 11 New Zealand centres in May and June, raising $354,000 from ticket sales, programme sales and donations in exchange for photographs and autographs.
Last week's Christchurch performance by the Flight of the Conchords added about $125,000 to the restoration pot, and British actress Miriam Margolyes performed a fundraiser in Christchurch in May, raising $10,000.
Theatre general manager Neil Cox said a donation from actor and writer Richard O'Brien brought the total raised to "well over $500,000''.
O'Brien's generosity meant that work began yesterday on the theatre's dome.
Cox said contractors spent over 12 hours yesterday lowering the eight-tonne ceiling dome into the stripped-out auditorium to signal the start of a repair and enhancement project that will span 18 months and cost more than $28 million.
The work is funded largely by insurance, with fundraising continuing to raise the remainder of the $6m shortfall.
''What Sir Ian, Miriam, Richard and the Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement have done has been overwhelming,'' Cox said.
He said the full repair programme would see the theatre open in a ''transitional'' format in July 2013 for three months before closing between October 2013 and April 2014, when ''the grand old lady will finally reopen again in her full restored and upgraded glory".
See a timelapse video of the first day of repairs here.
by Vicki Anderson c/o thepress.co.nz