Eric's  Civic Theatre Site! Friends of the Civic Charitable Trust SOUVENIRS TO BUY From the Civic Photo archives IRIS NORGROVE -Wurlitzer Organist JOHN PATRICK FEENEY from Eric's photo album NEWSLETTER



Take a guided tour through the grand old lady of Auckland theatre and musicals - The Civic.

The Civic Tours will be on sale Monday 22 May for 24 - 25 June tours – make sure you don’t miss out 

Auckland Live’s bespoke 45-minute tour of this iconic and legendary landmark is packed full of facts, anecdotes and fun, as well as exclusive access to areas usually reserved for the stars.

Listen and learn as  trained tour guides share the stories of The Civic’s fascinating history: its inception and design as an atmospheric theatre in the 1920s; its scandalous war years; its decline during the 60s and 70s; and its triumphant restoration and status as one of Auckland’s architectural treasures.




 Whilst a lot of the country has been inundated by the recent rains, the Civic has emerged relatively unscathed. No more the deluge gushing down Wellesley Street and inundating the Wintergarden (cinema); nor the Ligar stream overflowing and the flotation pumps under the gondola working so hard the Phantom had to move.

   *I was reminded of a promotion of the premiere in November 1996 for Anthony Clarke’s The Hemp Revolution which attempted to persuade the unconverted how beneficial hemp could be for clothing, footwear etc.  This by the recent publicity of how beneficial industrial hemp could be to the economy of the country.

    *Organised tours of the Civic, an idea which has lain dormant for many years, is to become a realisation at last.  It is so important that new generations are aware of the history of the building.  Not only its amalgam of architectural styles, but even the fact that it was a cinema up until 1999, - so many now knowing it only as a lyric theatre.  My lips re sealed re the scandals and ghosts…………..

check out for a sight of all that is on offer.



  March is an exciting month because it is Auckland’s Art Festival which brings many internationals hows to the Civic and Auckland.
For What’s On? Go to    

Of interest was the film Raiders of the Lost Ark with live music.  This is a throwback to the days of silent cinema when prestigious theatres could afford a live orchestra, gradually being replaced with the Wurlitzer organ which could replicate an orchestra.      Smaller venues relied on the trustworthy pianist as epitomised in the delightful  1957 British film The Smallest Show on Earth directed by Basil Dearden,
      This was not the first time the Civic had screened films with live orchestra and one of the highlights of the July International Film Festival is the concluding night of silent movie and the APO Orchestra.  (One of the few times the Civic actually shows movies now)

I was told  by a delightfully aged person at one of my talks  they remembered being at the  Civic opening night and saw the silent film Three Live Ghosts.   Memory is a strange thing. The Civic did open with Three Live Ghosts but it was with sound. This film was based on a play by Frederic S Isham.  First filmed in 1922 (silent), then again in1929, and 1936.
    In the tradition of the  merge of theatre and cinema the Civic opened with full orchestra, Wurlitzer, stage show - before the film - and cabaret dancing after the screening.
    An enquiry re the Friends of the Civic and the website.  The Friends were formed into Charitable Trust to save the Civic from demolition as was advocated by council members prior to the construction of the Aotea Centre.
     With the task of saving the Civic accomplished there was no reason for the aTrust to continue had was recently disbanded.  James Wallace (who was Chairman of the Trustees) agree to continue our Golden Elephant Film award which was given to a NZ short filmmaker during the Film Festival, and to continue the website which I and Anna Soutar had originally  created.)


View of foyer and Wintergarden descent