Restora­tions set to re­vi­talise Re­gal The­atre

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - Rosanna Can­dler

SU­BI­ACO’S leg­endary Re­gal The­atre will close over Christ­mas and late next year for the first restora­tions in its 76-year his­tory.

Re­gal The­atre Foun­da­tion chair­man and for­mer Su­bi­aco Mayor Richard Dig­gins said a re­cent $1.5 mil­lion Lot­tery­west grant would help fi­nance the lon­gover­due restora­tion pro­gram.

“Our first stage will be works on the bal­cony up­stairs, adding strength to the struc­tural at­tach­ment and re­plac­ing the western stair­case with a fire­proof steel struc­ture,” Mr Dig­gins said.

“The en­tire roof will also be re­placed, which will elim­i­nate a ma­jor is­sue dur­ing win­ter when pa­trons have an un­ex­pected shower from time to time.

“Stage two will com­mence late 2015 and see the in­stal­la­tion of new seats, ma­jor works to the au­di­to­rium, elec­tri­cal up­grades and paint­ing the the­atre (to closely match its orig­i­nal colour scheme).”

Few peo­ple know the Re­gal The­atre bet­ter than its man­ager Kim Knight, whose fa­ther Stan Bird and John Thorn­ton of In­ter­star took over the the­atre in 1977.

“I spent a lot of time here as a lit­tle kid sit­ting in the back lounge while mum and dad worked,” Ms Knight said.

“My first job was at the the­atre as an usher and help­ing run the box of­fice; an­swer­ing the phone and tak­ing book­ings.

“She is start­ing to show her age and now is well and truly the time to re­store. For me, the big­gest thing will be to re­pair what is needed with­out com­pro­mis­ing its character and am­bi­ence. It is so im­por­tant to me to main­tain the rep­u­ta­tion we have worked hard to es­tab­lish over the years.”

Ms Knight said she was most look­ing for­ward to see­ing the build­ing look­ing its best with a fresh lick of paint.

“The new seat­ing is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal as some of the seats here are more than 26-years-old — and we pur­chased them sec­ond-hand at that,” she said.

“We’re work­ing to close our doors dur­ing our least dis­rup­tive pe­riod, typ­i­cally over Christ­mas and New Year, and then tack on time after that. It will ab­so­lutely be worth wait­ing for.”

Mr Dig­gins said the Lot­tery­west grant would fund the first two stages but re­al­is­ti­cally the the­atre needed about $10 mil­lion spent on it.

“This is the only the­atre I know of in Aus­tralia that is not sup­ported fi­nan­cially by the gov­ern­ment, we run en­tirely on a pri­vate ba­sis, There are go­ing to be ac­tiv­i­ties sub­se­quent to its re-open­ing in 2016 to raise money and hope­fully take the restora­tion fur­ther,” he said.

The WA Deaf School’s site has been di­vided into three.

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