Isaac Theatre Royal

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Isaac Theatre Royal
Isaac Theatre Royal 078.JPG
Isaac Theatre Royal in August 2015
General information
Architectural styleEdwardian
LocationChristchurch Central City
Address145 Gloucester Street
Town or cityChristchurch
CountryNew Zealand
Coordinates43°31′47″S 172°38′18″E / 43.529724°S 172.638254°E / -43.529724; 172.638254Coordinates: 43°31′47″S 172°38′18″E / 43.529724°S 172.638254°E / -43.529724; 172.638254
Construction started1906
Technical details
Design and construction
ArchitectSidney and Alfred Luttrell
Renovating team
Other designersWarren and Mahoney
Other information
Seating capacity1,290[1]
Designated16 November 1989
Reference no.1936

The Isaac Theatre Royal, (formally known as the Theatre Royal) is a heritage building in Christchurch, New Zealand, designed by brothers Sidney and Alfred Luttrell.[2] Built in 1908 it is the only operational Edwardian style Theatre remaining in New Zealand.[3]


Theatre Royal in 1907

The current Theatre Royal is the third theatre of its name on Gloucester Street. The first theatre, built in 1861, was on a site across the road from the current Theatre Royal. It was originally called the Canterbury Music Hall.[2] That building was replaced by newer theatre in 1876 on the same site. Five years after the new theatre was completed it was renamed the Theatre Royal.[4] When the current theatre was built in 1908 the old theatre across the road was sold to The Press who owned it up until the Canterbury earthquakes.[5][2]


In 1928 the theatre was refitted as a cinema. During the refit the current marble staircase replaced the original wooden one.[2] Significant structural earthquake strengthening was carried out in 1999/2000.[6][7] Between 2004-2005 major work was done to the theatre over a nine-month period at a cost of $6.2 million.[6][4] The whole backstage was demolished to make room for a modern concrete fly tower and dressing room facilities. The Proscenium arch was also widened by 1.5m and the stage and fly tower were made wider and deeper.[6] The facilities within the existing front of house areas were also upgraded.[6] It was during the 2004/5 renovation that the theatre became the Isaac Theatre Royal, to honour supporter Lady Diana Isaac.[4]

Canterbury earthquakes and restoration[edit]

Isaac Theatre Royal during renovation/earthquake repair.

The 1908 auditorium and foyer sustained considerable damage during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the June aftershock.[1] The Theatre was closed for nearly four years while the restoration took place. At a cost of $40 million the Theatre was completely restored and brought up to current building code requirements.[8] All of the significant architectural elements were rescued and restored by skilled craftsmen.[8] The newly restored Theatre opened on 17 November 2014.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Isaac Theatre Royal: Despair to repair". The Press. Fairfax New Zealand. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Search the List | Theatre Royal | Heritage New Zealand". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  3. ^ "ITR Earthquake Update June 2014". Isaac Theatre Royal. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "The Theatre Royal Opened – 26th December 1861". Discover The Delights Of Peeling Back History. 26 December 1861. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Register Records for the former Theatre Royal Building, 148-154 Gloucester Street, Christchurch". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Theatre History". Isaac Theatre Royal. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  7. ^ "ITR Earthquake Update 7 July 2011". Isaac Theatre Royal. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Isaac Theatre Royal - Portfolio - Warren and Mahoney Architects - Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown". Retrieved 21 February 2017.