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New Auckland waterfront theatre's official opening

Official opening Thursday, open day Saturday

After more than a decade of planning, the new $36 million ASB Waterfront Theatre is officially opened on Thursday.

Mayor Len Brown will unveil the city's new home of performance and drama at 138 Halsey St in the Wynyard Quarter and a theatre spokesperson said the new building had been planned since last decade.

"The first focus groups were held in late 2005 to early 2006. That's when it all began," she said.

An open day is planned for the public on Saturday from 10am till 2pm: "Aucklanders and visitors to the city will be welcomed into ATC's new home, to discover the new theatre and enjoy a range of free, family-friendly activities and performances," the theatre business said.

The theatre company tells people to park in public parking buildings at Downtown 750m away, Fanshaw Street 900m away and Jellicoe Street 300m away.

Chris Darby, an Auckland councillor and the council's development committee deputy chairman, said car parking would not be an issue.

"The predominance of auto-dependence! I'll be getting the ferry, biking or walking there. In the future, we'll have a light rail connecting along there. We can't keep providing carparking," Darby said.

On Thursday night, the theatre's major art work will be unveiled. Light Matrix by Leo Villareal was commissioned by the Edmiston Trust to make the LED light installation of two and a half levels for the foyer interior, facing onto Halsey St.

Hawkins Construction built the theatre, designed by architect Gordon Moller working with Terry St George. Moller is also the theatre's chairman and has described the auditorium as a cedar crucible. Billy Elliot The Musical will be the first performance on October 7.

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The stage has 24 secret traps doors embedded in its floor, allowing objects as big as a grant piano to magically appear. The auditorium seats 668 people and a glass air bridge connects the building to the existing ASB North Wharf office block, which also has a theatre.

Read: Dramatic wonders in new theatre

Back-of-house, a string of VIP dressing rooms have their own private en suites. Two separate mens' and ladies' dressing rooms, each with 20 seats, have Hollywood lighting, pin boards, storage areas and en suites. Larsen estimates the entire building had about 60 toilets. A scissor lift is capable of carrying 4 tonnes, so a car could be brought into the theatre.

A large, ground-level foyer with exposed aggregate polished floors, offset by cedar and American ash doors, walls, balustrades and panels is another feature of the building, along with cafe, industrial kitchen, cloak room, circular three-level staircase and bifold doors which open out onto Halsey St and into the courtyard facing ASB North Wharf.

- NZ Herald

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