Chil­dren are the key to the Re­gent’s fu­ture

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

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.

Mau­rice Rowe

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