Centrepoint Theatre marketing manager Jacob McDonald and general manager Kate Louise Elliott react to the pong in the flooded dressing room. Elliott says it smells like a wet dog. Photo / Judith Lacy
The stained carpet is billowing like a sail on a stormy night. The ceiling is bowing. And the smell? It would take Shakespeare to describe that.
This is the scene in Centrepoint Theatre’s dressing room. It’s not part of a production but yet another challenge for the only provincial professional theatre in New Zealand.
On Saturday, cleaners found a flooded dressing room after vandals seeking copper piping cut the hot water cylinder overflow pipe on the roof.
Vandals returned overnight on Saturday, ripping flashings in an unsuccessful search for copper guttering. The damage allowed rain to get into the building, causing a “waterfall” behind the seating block and in the rehearsal room, general manager Kate Louise Elliott says.
Centrepoint’s current production QEIII Black Betty was to end on June 2. Last Sunday’s performance was cancelled as the power had to be turned off and the world premiere written by David Geary will now end on Sunday.
The early end of the season will allow the damaged roof and flooring to be repaired.
The flooding has also affected Centrepoint’s education and outreach programmes. It has “put such a handbrake on everything”.
Elliott is aware Centrepoint is not the only Palmerston North building targeted by copper thieves and coping with the ensuing disruption.
She was so looking forward to Centrepoint’s turning 50 next year. It is the second-oldest theatre in the country after Christchurch’s Court Theatre, which opened in 1971.
Now she is wondering if the theatre is going to make the milestone with the latest disruption, hard on the heels of Covid-19, weather events and the high cost of living.
Elliott is worn down by so many cancellations due to natural and unnatural disasters.
She is thankful for the messages of concern and offers of support since the flooding. Now, she wants people to buy tickets so the theatre is still here for the 50th celebrations.
Frangipani Perfume, which opens on June 24, is a grown-up fairytale. Elliott says it is a gorgeous, heart-warming and funny piece.
The damage and disruption have been so hard for the QEIII Black Betty actors, two of whom are from Wellington and one from Christchurch.
But the trio has been amazing and so positive, Elliott says.
“We’d quite like to keep the drama to the stage rather than the roof.”
Tradies have been amazing as Elliott struggled with where to start.
“This isn’t our area. I can tell you how to put on a play. I can’t tell you how to fix a leak.”
Meanwhile, the Centrepoint-managed The Dark Room at the back of Te Manawa will host its last show on June 30. Te Manawa needs the space back for storage and will take it over from July 31.
Elliott says Centrepoint has been super lucky to have Te Manawa’s support with the additional performance space for so long. The Dark Room used to be in the Centrepoint rehearsal room, so the name might not die.
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