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A place to share your memories of the Civic Theatre

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Scroll down the page to see some interesting archived posts.


Eric KearneyPosted on: Jan 01, 1970

Joy Rountree / Braithwaite, who at 5 years old won the Shirley Temple lookalike competition at the Civic. It was 1935 and she remembers coming out of an enormous storybook on stage and singing On the Good Ship Lollipop and dancing. Her first entrance came after the on-screen advertising - she remembers standing beside her mother and seeing 'Big Tree Petrol' being written across the screen - she saw the 'tree' and said, "is that my name?"Joy went on to become a member of the Uncle Toms Friendly Road Merrymakers Choir, learned dancing and later in the Junior Concert Party, went out weekly to the military camps, to entertain the troops.


Eric KearneyPosted on: Dec 23, 2002

Regina Raye Redfern. After starring as a child dancer in New Zealand and Australia, she became choreographer, dance director and designer of the many fantastic show girl costumes needed for the stage shows at the Civic. Wartime and its weekly change of show for the forces gave her the stimulus for literally dozens of such confections. Her troupe was called the Lucky Lovelies and they included dancers like Thelma Creamer, Lenora Upton and Freda Stark. She remembers that backstage it was a case of 'making do' with fabrics out of what was available - like a kind of plastic material from the hospital she devised into a 'leather look' for bras, and gauntlets, with window dressers mirrored fabric for shiny accents. She recalls using medical gauze, mosquito netting and flint paper from the ammunition factory. Se used bakery patti-cups with glue and glitter to make flowers which she sewed onto flesh coloured leotards. All with a hand operated sewing machine. Good luck and thanks for the memories, Regina!

Eric KearneyPosted on: Dec 23, 2002

Marei Dixon, now 89 years old, remembers the special privilege of coming from Wellington without a chaperone (her handsome escort Frank was given STRICT instructions) to dance at the Civic in 1929. She borrowed her older sister's most glamorous gown without asking and was met by a telegram: "Bring back my frock!" and she remembers it was silver and white and draped short at the front, long at the back. She fell in love and married Frank within a year, having a silver wedding a few years ago.

Laurie Posted on: May 15, 2003I can recall visiting the Civic theatre as a small child and being absolutely awe-struck by the size and grandeur of the place. I was fascinated by the man playing the wurlitzer organ, the panthers with the 'blinking' eyes and the clock above the organ platform. I remember the first time I went upstairs and sat under the 'stars'. My dad told me the theatre was built on a huge flat rock on reclaimed land. The theatre was closed for some time to under-go major repair works from damage caused by water leakage. We (my friends or family and I ) always sat in seats on the second floor, because the first floor was closed sometime during the 50's. Later on during the 60's the first floor was used as a dance floor, it then became a discotheque during the late 70's. I recall the first floor was reopened as a picture theatre, but I can't recall what it was renamed, and I don't recall what year it was. It was sometime in the late 60's I think. The upstairs area was absolutely splendidly decorated with antique-type furniture, carpeting etc. I was lucky enough to actually have a private tour of the 'underneath' sometime around 1986/7. I saw the boilers, the platform the organ was housed on, the orchestral area. I also saw the roof above the 'stars'. I was doing a magazine article about the wurlitzer organ and the then manager of the theatre took me on a tour.

Eric KearneyPosted on: Dec 23, 2002

Beverley Sinclair, who has two links to the Civic. Her late father-in-law, David Bruce Sinclair worked as a builder on the site and took his 4 year old daughter Joan there for a birthday treat, to climb through the scaffolding and look at the construction. Her maternal grandfather, Edgar Israel Mathews was a tailor for George Courts Ltd, and worked on the curtains. Her mother told her that the curtains were unusual because they were the first to lift straight up previously curtains were pulled to the side.


Eric Kearney Posted on: Jan 21, 2003'Three Live Ghosts" was Thomas O'Brien's choice of film to open the Civic Theatre in December 1929. It was not perhaps the wisest choice but there is an interesting story attached to the Film. The title had been used for a silent version in 1922 based upon a play by Frederic Stewart Isham and Max Marcin. Of interest is that the inter titles, ( the cards on screen to be read by the audience) were designed by Alfred Hitchcock!. The 1929 film was based upon the same play but was a talking version. It starred Robert Montgomery and Joan Bennett, but perhaps of greatest interest to Auckland's premiere audience was the presence on screen of Shayle Gardner as the Briggs character. Shayle was born in Auckland, August 22nd 1890 and died in May, 1945. He acted in over 22 films, notables being 'While london Sleeps', 'The Lodger', "Lloyd of the C.I.D.", and "Return of Dr Fu Manchu". His first major film was as Pietro Morelli in the 1923 film, "The Wandering Jew ", and his last major role was as the manager in the 1939 film, "Discoveries".


Greg Shaw Posted on: Jan 03, 2003

When I was about seven, I remember seeing the inside of the Civic for the first time. I was absolutely awe struck by the 'buildings', the sky and the stars and the blinking lions/panthers.It was a spellbinding experience looking at the stars when the lights were dimmed for a show.less

Eric Kearney Posted on: Dec 23, 2002John Campbell wrote this reminiscence: we had a special time at the basement watching a movie, we sat in cane chairs, we could move them to suit, with our friends. Does anybody else remember this?

Eric Kearne yPosted on: Dec 23, 2002Eileen Bradley / Bainbridge, who was the Head Cashier at the Civic between 1936 and 1943. She remembers it as the happiest in her life, despite the War being on. The other staff and patrons were full of fun and her Manager, Paddy Malone a great boss. Her big responsibility was to cash up after the last session started, a little after 9 at night, put the money in a bag, have her wrist chained to that of a security guard, and catch a car to the bank. Neither of them would be allowed to go alone. Saturday was the big night of the week, but often the trip to the bank would be earlier on Saturday because the theatre would have been sold out! It was also her job to control the 20 Management seats which could be given to important patrons she would get a last minute call from a secretary or wife, Miss Bradley? I wonder -- ?

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