Burnt-out theatre no laughing matter
Damage caused by the fire which ripped through Auckland University’s Maidment Theatre is forcing a comedy company out in the cold.
The internationally acclaimed improvised comedy group the Covert Theatre was due to open its first show of its NZ International Comedy Festival run at the Maidment’s smaller studio, The Musgrove, on Wednesday but has had to cancel 22 of its 30 scheduled performances.
The Musgrove suffered smoke and possible electrical damage after a fire spread from a curtain through the Maidment’s stage floor and into the bowels of the theatre, Auckland City Harbour News, April 5.
Four of the company’s shows have been cancelled while the two remaining shows, Ferris Wheel and The Improv Bandits have been relocated to the Herald Theatre.
Covert Theatre director Wade Jackson is gutted by the news.
‘‘It’s really disappointing. Our players train hard all year to showcase what they can do at the festival and The Musgrove has been our home.
‘‘This is where I started off at the Maidment as a uni student, so being back at the Maidment was lovely. It’s a great venue for what we do.’’
A Maidment Theatre spokesman says the theatre is still investigating the extent of the damage but doesn’t think it will be closed for more than six months.
The Covert Theatre has been offered a last-minute deal at the Herald Theatre for the two remaining shows but the rookie shows have had to be cut from the bill.
‘‘The Herald is an expensive venue to hire and a big space to fill, so straightaway we’re looking at double the rental and less than half the shows. We need to attract a lot more people this year.’’
But Improv Bandits comedian Mark Scott says there is always a silver lining.
‘‘I’m totally jacked up about the Ferris Wheel show. I like that we’re really going to be able to focus on these shows and we’re now going to have prime time slots.’’
The company will be celebrating the world premiere of its original format in Ferris Wheel.
Each scene plays out in a carriage on a ferris wheel and as each carriage passes the audience gets snippets of the plays within the play.
‘‘It’s a horrible way to start the festival, getting ejected from your venue at the last minute, but we’re hoping to end the season with a bang. ‘‘Not literally,’’ Mr Jackson says. Original tickets to performances of Ferris Wheel and The Improv Bandits will still be valid in the new venue.
People with tickets to the four cancelled shows can get a full refund or they can transfer to one of the relocated performances.
Ferris Wheel will show from May 9 to 11 at the Herald Theatre at 7pm and The Improv Bandits shows from May 8 to 11 at the Herald Theatre at 8.30pm.
The four cancelled shows are Covert Improv Night, Scene It!, The Eliminator and Fifteen.
The comedians from Silver lining: Mark Scott and Wade Jackson of the internationally acclaimed improvised comedy group the Covert Theatre are looking on the bright side after a fire damaged the Maidment Theatre last month.
– Covert Theatre director
The Improv Bandits
Go to aucklandcity harbournews.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to watch a clip of The Improv Bandits perform.