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Click on the Links below in Orange for more information on each person 

Thomas A. O'Brien  -  Creator & Manager Civic Theatre

Rona Von Zalinsky - Secretary to Thomas O'Brien

Eric Kearney - Ex Manager of the Civic Theatre

Eric was the Manager of the Civic Theatre for 21 years, before it was closed for restoration in 1998. Eric then set up the first Civic Theatre website to keep supporters informed about developments during the restoration.


Eric is also the Secretary and one of the Trustees of  the Friends of  the Civic Charitable Trust. He says that the refurbishment of  the Civic illustrates the importance of keeping something from the past and being able to look back to provide an anchor for future generations.


 Eric studied acting and dance in London, Russian ballerina Tamara Karsavina, who worked with the famous dancer Pavlova, was one of his tutors. On his return to New Zealand Eric, with Madame Lousie, set up New Zealand's second licensed restaurant, Le Normandie, in Cuba Street in 1960.


Eric recalls:

'The Sound of Music' ran for 18 months and another long running movie was 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'. At that time the cinema often reached it 3000 capacity every night.

Some of the most successful screening have been silent films with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the world premiere of 'Mr Bean - The Movie'  there were three minis parked in the foyer.

Meeting Joan Collins at the screening of her move 'The Bitch'



Regina Raye formed the Civic Dancers in 1939. At the Christmas Spectacular in 1939 Freda Stark danced for the first time. Regina was choreographer for the Civic performances which consisted of half hour pantomimes during the interval, the dance troupe were a huge hit with the public. There were 30 dancers who were divided into the 'Lucky Lovelies' and the 'Pony Dancers'. In June 1942 the United States Army, Airforce and Navy arrived in New Zealand, which helped shoot the Civic Dancers into the heavens....


3000 tickets were available on a nightly basis and these sold out immediately - the patrons were shown a movie which was followed by a floor show by the 'Lucky Lovelies'. After the show the Dancers made a quick change and danced in the Wintergarden as the 'Pony Dancers' - Freda's risque Balloon Dance was a great hit with the troops.


The Dance sensation at the Civic Wintergarden was Swing - VIEW 'Hooked on Swing', live footage of 1920's Swing HERE


For more on each Dancer click on the link in orange below:


Freda Stark - Dancer, Civic Theatre -  full biography/film clips/photos

Leonore Truscott - Dancer in the 'Lucky Lovelies' Civic Theatre

Regina Raye - Costumeir at the Civic Theatre

Beverly Piggot (Quinn)


Hec Olsen - Manager, Civic Theatre for 28 years


 Hec Olsen began his 48 cinematic history as a 'switch boy', transporting reels of film after initial screening at the National Theatre in Auckland city, hopping on a tram, and dashing up to the Lyric Cinema in Symonds Street enabling the same print to screen at both cinemas at different hours.


After going Amalgamated Theatres he travelled NZ as a cinema manager, the State and Civic in Invercargill, the State and Grand in Dunedin, the State at Devonport,, the Regent in Whangarei, the State theatre in Hastings, The Crystal Palace theatre in Christchurch, Wellington's Plaza and State, and Auckland's  Lyric, Tivoli, De Luxe, Roxy, Adelphi, Plaza, and Regent. The highlight of his career was his appointment as manager of Auckland's Civic Theatre.


Mr Olsen was married to Marjorie Jordan in 1934 and they lived in Vermont Street, Ponsonby, Auckland. and she worked with him at the Civic.


Mr Olsen was noted for his fine singing voice, often singing from the Civic stage before a screening. On 1948 at "An Evening st the Wintergarden: he sang 'April Showers".


As a celebration of his retirement a function was held at the Cinerama Theatre in Auckland and a Warners film, "Over 50 years of the Movies' was shown.


He died February 13th 1976, after three years of retirement after 28 years a manager of the Civic.


Before every screening the patrons would stand to GOD SAVE THE QUEEN - LISTEN to it  HERE

 Eric  Kearney

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