10 Facts You May... or May Not Know About The Civic
Since its inception in 1929, The Civic has been the jewel in the crown of theatre life in Auckland. To celebrate the return of our fabulous Civic Tours we wanted to whet your appetite with 10 fascinating facts about this iconic venue and its rich history.
- An incredible feat for 1929, The Civic was built in just 9 months at a cost of £200,000 (equivalent to $22.8 million today) and could seat 3500…
- During the second world war, The Civic was hugely popular with American troops, who would flock to Auckland’s picture palace, to watch notorious local dancer Freda Stark perform clad in a feather headdress, G-string, and a coat of gold body paint. Nicknamed ‘The Fever of the Fleet’ due to her popularity, Freda’s memory lives on with some of her costumes and memorabilia displayed in The Civic’s foyers. Which you can visit today!
- Being one of the few remaining atmospheric theatres in the southern hemisphere, The Civic is domed with a starry night sky. This iconic recreation is an exact replica of the Auckland night sky as it appeared at 10pm, April 20, 1929, and features Orion on one side and scorpion on the other.
- The Civic contained numerous innovations for the time including a wintergarden in the basement which contained a rising orchestra pit and could be seen from the front row of the stalls.
- Hollywood film stars Bette Davis and Charlton Heston, former US first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the Dalai Lama, Nick Cave, Jethro Bull, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and many New Zealand treasures such as Tami Neilson, Bic Runga, Tim Finn, and Dave Dobbyn have performed at The Civic.
- The Civic’s famous Flamingo curtain is now in its section iteration. A hand-embroidered recreation of the 1929 original, it is stitched from a 2,000-piece pattern by an army of tailoring specialists.
- Featuring Indian, Persian, and North African influences, The Civic’s interior is exotic and lush, and was designed with the idea to transport you to another world.
- The Civic contains a seated Buddha, twisted columns and more than 400 plaster elephants.
- Once home to New Zealand’s largest Wurlitzer organ, one of the eye-popping spectacles from 1929 was its ability to rise to 10 meters from stage left at the end of a show.
- Described as a “one person orchestra”, The Civic’s famed Wurlitzer organ had the ability to emulate practically every instrument of the orchestra from ‘thunder kettle drums’ to piccolo, from clarinet to glockenspiel.