Children are the key to the Regent’s future
Maurice Rowe’s fascination with the Regent began when he was a high school student.
He attended many cinematic shows and several live performances at the grand old J.C. Williamson picture palace on Broadway and developed a love for the ambience of the theatre and its entertainment.
Now, as chair of the Regent Theatre Trust, he’s dedicated to passing on his lifetime enjoyment to school children, the audience of the future.
He wants them to be captivated at a young age, just as he was and grow up to enjoy entertainment in a social setting.
Maurice, a senior lawyer in Palmerston North, was the ideal person to approach when the Regent was threatened with closure nearly 30 years ago.
The mayor at the time, Paul Rieger, approached Maurice to establish a trust to purchase the Regent, take ownership and then fundraise to restore it to its former opulent glory.
At the time Maurice thought it was an undertaking that could stretch to two or three years. But it was closer to nine years before the heritage building was meticulously restored and refurbished and the private and public funding achieved.
During this time further property was purchased to enable the Regent to expand, the performance area on stage was enlarged and rehearsal, function and Green Rooms were built.
With Maurice at the helm, the Regent reopened with a glittering gala night in May 1998. Compere Bob Parker was engaged and he and many local and national performers paid tribute to the theatre with the show "Regent – This Is Your Life."
The Regent has hosted many dazzling productions over the last 18 years, a number of them conceived and staged by Regent on Broadway Productions, the theatre’s entrepreneurial arm.
Maurice vividly recalls a concert by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, a three-night season by St Petersburg Ballet, memorable nights from the late Rob Guest and John Cleese, Last Nights at the Proms, the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, the NZSO and stellar musical theatre productions such as Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Joseph, The Sound of Music and Rocky Horror.
But most of all he emphasises the community events.
The Regent is the community’s theatre and Maurice and his cotrustees, the management and Friends of the Regent encourage local use.
He predicts a time when people will become bored with sitting on the sofa with the cat and place value on coming out to be entertained.
They’ll then join the many thousands annually who love the Regent and treat it like an evening out enjoying fine cuisine at a restaurant.
‘‘We need to sell that idea,’’ Maurice says.
Some of the most satisfying shows involve youngsters on stage.
They brings parents and grandparents to the Regent but, most of all, they introduce children to the magic of theatre.
Then Maurice foresees, they become the patrons and performers in the years to come.