Theatre Royal manager Eliane Polack is hopeful Nelsonians will come back and support the beloved arts institution. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Theatre Royal whirs back into action


The Theatre Royal has emerged from Covid-19 lockdown full of energy for the future.

Come Friday, its doors will be open for the first time in weeks as it puts on the opening night of a special new MAMIL season, by new Nelson resident and veteran actor Mark Hadlow.

However, the theatre has not been left unscathed. Lockdown saw all its shows cancelled, with the next few months also looking shaky for bookings.

As such, it had to make two of its part-time staff redundant, leaving only the manager, Eliane Polack, to handle the whole enterprise.

“We are excited, but it will be tough. That’s why it’s so important people come out and support us.”

Mark says that people need to come and see some live theatre this weekend.

“Forget about the rugby, this is really high-quality performance that Nelsonians will love.”

He says people shouldn’t take the theatre for granted. “It is an amazing space and Nelson is so lucky to have it, but it needs people in the seats.”

He has also recently been made a patron of the theatre. “I’m really excited about that.”

The Theatre Royal is likely the oldest functioning wooden theatre in the Southern Hemisphere, and Eliane says we cannot stress often enough what a fantastic asset it is for Nelson.

“A beautifully restored heritage building with state-of-theart theatre facilities, that is accessible to community groups as well as professional touring companies. It was one of the busiest theatres in New Zealand pre-Covid-19. We hope Nelsonians will keep supporting live performances, so that we can get back to that level of activity.”

MAMIL, written by Greg Cooper, tells the story of Bryan Cook, a property developer who has accumulated a small fortune building leaking homes.

“He’s a stressed out, selfmedicating, self-loathing arse, killing himself to increase his bank balance while decreasing his golf score.”

Mark says it is a powerful show which everyone can enjoy. As such he is making the show ‘pay what you can’ – meaning anyone can go to the show.

Those who are struggling financially and would normally not be able to afford to attend a professional performance can buy heavily reduced tickets from $10.

However, more expensive tickets will also be available for those who can and want to support the theatre in its struggle to stay alive without many new shows on offer in the near future.

At 6.30pm on Friday, Mark will also be the MC at the grand opening of the new bicycle rack in front of the theatre, which was recently installed by Nelson City Council.

MAMIL Theatre Royal 19 and 20 June, 7:30 Tickets: Pay what you can: from $10