A new documentary about the initial restoration of Auckland's historic St James Theatre will premiere next month.

Devonport film-maker and historian Margot McRae has produced a 50-minute film, St James - The Show Goes On, which will be screened inside the Queen St building, which dates from 1928 and has been off-limits to the public for the past few years.

New projection equipment will be used for the three screenings on the theatre's original movie screen behind the stage, with temporary seating erected on the ground floor.

Mrs McRae had financial assistance from Auckland Council and said the film would be the first peek inside the theatre for many people in years.


"This is a look at the last year, since the St James was sold last October. It shows the trials and tribulations of the initial restoration work, particularly the craftspeople and tradespeople who fell in love with it," she said, citing artisan Andrew Giacon of Auckland business Terrazzo + Stoneworks.

"Both his grandparents worked on the St James - one in 1928 and the other in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth's visit, so Andrew is the third generation in his family to have worked at this theatre," Mrs McRae said.

George Farrant, the council's central principal heritage adviser, and Steve Bielby, principal trustee for the Auckland Notable Properties Trust, also feature, with theatre staff, projectionists and others. Mr Farrant said the Category 1 building's magic was undiminished by time and neglect.

The film "showcases stories from the theatre's past and its present and celebrates the beauty of the 1928 theatre that was controversially closed for seven years".

St James - The Show Goes On:

St James Theatre, 302 Queen St
October 9 - 6pm, October 10 and 11 - 3pm.
Tickets $12 - Phone 445 1274 or email mmcrae@xtra.co.nz