Regent Cinema

Queen Street,
Waiuku 2123

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Additional Info

Functions: Live Theatre

Previous Names: Lyceum Theatre

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Regent Cinema

In Waiuku, a small rural town in the Auckland Region in the North Island, the Public Hall was opened, on the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Avenue, in June 1917.

Although it was not built as a war memorial, the Waiuku and District’s roll of honour for World War I, which had been unveiled during a ceremony held beside the town’s memorial cenotaph on 25th April 1931, was later placed in the hall.

After World War II, the hall was refurbished and extended. Both the World War I and the World War II rolls of honour were placed in the new foyer and the building was formally re-opened and dedicated as the Waiuku War Memorial Hall on 18th May 1957.

Sometimes known as the Waiuku War Memorial Town Hall, sometimes just as the Waiuku Town Hall, the building was formally re-dedicated as a war memorial after further refurbishment on 17th February 1991.

As with many similar public amenities, the hall has been used as a cinema over the years.

A heritage information plaque on the exterior records that it was known as the Lyceum Theatre “in early days”. This use of the term “Theatre” could well indicate live use in addition to film shows.

After the 1957 renovation, the hall was renamed the Regent Cinema for the film shows. But whether these were ever full-time, or just part of a wider programme of civic activities, is not known.

The plaque concludes that dwindling audiences led to the ending of the film shows in the “early 1990’s”; quite possibly the refurbishment that had been completed in February 1991 led to a change in the nature of the hall’s usage.

In an interesting addition to the story of this hall, the 1991 refurbishment included an extension to the rear which opened, that year, as the Backstage Theatre. This is run by Waiuku Theatre Group, which had been founded in 1972.

In addition to presenting productions in their modest 60-seat auditorium, the group presents its annual pantomime, and “variety-styled” shows, in the Memorial Hall’s main auditorium. This seats 140-240 patrons in a multi-purpose space that comprises a balcony and a flat stalls floor on which, for the shows, round tables are set out cabaret-style.

Contributed by David Simpson
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