The Civic Spills its Secrets

16 May 2017

Auckland Live is delighted to announce the launch of public tours of Auckland’s grand old lady of theatre, The Civic.

Popular demand has led to the creation of the ticketed 45-minute guided tours, announced today as part of Auckland Live’s third birthday celebrations 2017.

The tours offer an intimate behind-the-scenes look at The Civic’s iconic architecture, decor and colourful 88-year history, much of which intersects with some of Auckland’s most seismic moments of the 20th century. 

Built in just eight months as an atmospheric cinema, The Civic opened in 1929 and provided a glamorous experience for patrons attending the ‘talkies’ during The Great Depression. 

An instant sensation, with its exotic interiors including seated Buddha, twisted columns and domed ceilings, the main auditorium caused gasps of astonishment with its Indian temple lobby, Moorish golden minarets, spires and giant Abyssinian panther statues. 

Visitors to The Civic over the decades have included some of the biggest names in show business including Bette Davis and The Rolling Stones, and dignitaries such as Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and the Dalai Lama. 

Today The Civic is one of the few intact remaining atmospheric theatres in the world, with a Auckland Council A, and Category 1 Heritage NZ listing.

Offering an insider’s view of the workings of the country’s largest theatre, each Auckland Live tour is packed full of facts, anecdotes and fun, as well as access to areas usually reserved for the stars and backstage technicians.

Led by specially-trained guides, visitors will get a taste of the glamour and greasepaint of the backstage workings and dressing rooms; hear the scandalous tales of what went on in The Wintergarden when Roosevelt’s GIs were in town; take in views from the auditorium’s opera boxes and orchestra pit; and experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment on The Civic stage, underneath the famous twinkling night sky sequence and the great Flamingo Curtain.

Auckland Live director, Robbie Macrae, says demand for regular tours of The Civic has been steadily growing and he’s delighted the new tours will be part of Auckland Live’s permanent programme. 

We always knew The Civic was much-loved by Aucklanders, but one-off tours last summer showed the public’s interest in The Civic was overwhelming,” says Robbie Macrae.

The Civic has been a part of some of the city’s most exciting and defining moments, and to be able to share such a rich resource with residents and visitors alike is a privilege,” he says. 

We are looking forward to programming future tours on a regular basis, and plans include themed tours for the likes of Halloween and Christmas, accessibility tours and children’s tours.”