Burnt-out the­atre no laugh­ing mat­ter

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

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

Wade Jack­son

The Im­prov Ban­dits


Go to auck­land­c­ity har­bournews.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a clip of The Im­prov Ban­dits per­form.

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