What’s be­hind Tabard’s stage?

The Napier Mail - - FRONT PAGE - ME­GAN HUNT Napier Oper­atic So­ci­ety’s sea­son of Mary Pop­pins opens on Fri­day, March 10 and runs to March 25 at the Napier Mu­nic­i­pal Theatre. Tick­ets from Tick­etek.

From the road Napier’s Tabard Theatre looks still and closed most days, with no move­ment or sound.

But in­side its golden set of wooden doors is a hive of ac­tiv­ity, with sets be­ing built, cos­tumes sewn, dance moves per­fected and lines learnt.

Les­ley Carthew is a life mem­ber, trea­surer and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Napier Oper­atic So­ci­ety which calls the com­plex home.

‘‘This place is never still,’’ she said.

Com­pleted in 1994, the theatre com­plex on Corona­tion Street in Ahuriri, was crafted by a team of re­tired men.

The front two rooms are the ones most com­monly vis­ited by the pub­lic, with a theatre large enough to ac­com­mo­date 175 in rowed seat­ing or 126 for din­ner theatre at ta­bles.

Across the hall­way is the cen­tre’s cos­tume hire store bulging with a range of out­fits; these are only a por­tion of the so­ci­ety’s cos­tumes.

Be­hind these ar­eas is a com­mer­cial kitchen able to cater for126 peo­ple dur­ing din­ner ser­vice.

At the back of the com­plex is a large re­hearsal room with a special sprung wooden floor for danc­ing, marked out with tape for each pro­duc­tion.

Along one side is an ex­tra wall of cos­tumes.

The se­cond storey houses a green room, of­fice and dress­ing rooms. Out­side is a court­yard and to the left of the theatre is a con­verted build­ing which houses a work­shop for build­ing sets and a sew­ing room for cre­at­ing and fit­ting cos­tumes.

Carthew had pre­vi­ously been in­volved with mu­si­cal theatre when she was younger but joined the Napier group as a par­ent.

‘‘I be­came a mem­ber dur­ing the 80s,’’ she said. ‘‘My daugh­ter was in An­nie the first time they did it. I came down to help with cos­tumes and never left.’’

But the so­ci­ety has a far longer his­tory.

It was es­tab­lished in 1887 af­ter three mu­si­cal and dance so­ci­eties joined, with Trial by Jury the first pro­duc­tion.

Shows were sus­pended dur­ing the two World Wars and fol­low­ing the 1931 Napier earth­quake.

Carthew said her favourite mu­si­cals over the years were Les Mis­er­ables, fol­lowed by Miss Saigon in a close se­cond, then Chess be­cause of the mu­si­cal chal­lenges this held.

She said it was the mu­sic which first drew her to the theatre.

‘‘It’s the type of mu­sic I just ab­so­lutely adore, but it’s the peo­ple you meet and friends I’ve made who keep me here.’’


Les­ley Carthew out­side the Tabard Theatre cos­tume hire store.

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