Cambridge’s Gaslight Theatre has had a makeover worth around $100,000 that not only involves a facelift but also promises a lot more comfort for its patrons.
There is a fresh coat of heritage colours on the outside of the historic building, new carpeting and chairs inside, and a merlot-coloured velvet curtain that tucks back to improve the audience’s line of sight. There is also a new fully-ducted air-conditioning system, installed in December. It is set to make theatre players and patrons much more comfortable, offering an even and near silent delivery of heating and cooling in the theatre auditorium and foyer. The previous system was so noisy that it often had to be turned off during performances. Additional cooling and heating systems have also been installed in the backstage area.
The changes have delighted Cambridge Repertory Society president and vice-president, Colin Morley and Peter Tait respectively. Colin is nearing the end of a two-year presidency and together with other committee members has helped identify what was needed and get the refurbishments underway. “It really has been a massive team effort,” he said.
Fundraising for the various projects has been underway since 2017; money has come in from various trusts, large corporates and organisations and small businesses.
“Local businesses have offered a lot of support on this, and we’re very grateful,” said Colin. “We haven’t got to a point of completing everything that needs done. It will be something of an ongoing project.”
Peter said Cambridge-based suppliers and contractors had been used whenever possible. One major exception was the involvement of Christchurch theatre curtain specialist John Herber for the making and hanging of the curtain – a task that included installing a new curved track which enables the curtains to be pulled out of the audience’s line of sight during performances.
Work done to the auditorium floor before laying new carpet means the doors to the foyer now close effortlessly, and the 30-year-old chairs in the audience have been replaced by new high-backed ones.
Just around the corner is the completion of the portico at the entrance to the building. Some final brickwork is being done and the iconic gaslight holders will be moved to the front of the portico.
“The primary reason for all this work is for the comfort and overall enjoyment of our patrons,” said Colin. “There have been times when it has become either too hot or too cold in the auditorium – those days are over.”
The first 2019 performance at Gaslight will be in late March, early April – a play by Ron Blicq called Closure.