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Cafe opens in St James Theatre's restored foyer

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

For the first time since it closed eight years ago people will be able to go into the St James Theatre building and enjoy a coffee and some live music.

On April 27 a 50-seat cafe will open in the theatre’s restored foyer, which will be known as St James ‘Lane’ because it is the space that connects Queen and Lorne streets.

And the first public event since fire closed the much loved venue, A Weird Night Out, will take place in the theatre and surrounding area on May 2.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is delighted that the category one listed heritage landmark is once again opening to the public.

"The St James is an icon for Auckland and it is fantastic that people will be able to go in and see the progress that’s been made on restoring it," he says.

Auckland Notable Property Trust and the building’s owner, Relianz Holdings, have partnered to conduct an ongoing evaluation of the work required to re-open the St James Theatre proper, while working with a heritage architect to restore the lane area to its original style and colours.

Auckland Notable Properties Trust Principal Trustee, Steve Bielby, says he’s thrilled to see parts of the St James Theatre reopen so soon after the building changed ownership late last year.

"We can’t wait to welcome people through the doors on April 27, and even before that we’re having a very special event for stakeholders who have given so much support," he says. "We’ll have Mayor Len Brown and Dame Trelise Cooper helping us celebrate the restoration of the theatre’s foyer at an elegant, glamorous event at on April 10."

The cafe, owned by Chris Barron - who also runs Society and Nook - will open to the public on April 27 from 8am until 4pm and will have a "fast, casual bistro/tapas-style menu."

The cafe will be licensed, so Mr Barron is hoping it will also be open for after work drinks two nights a week in the near future.

Mr Barron will also oversee the future programme that will see it St James Theatre used as a performance venue again.

"I have a personal connection with this building, having worked here when it was being used for dance parties, and it’s amazing to be able to open it up again to celebrate performance and visual arts," he says.

This first public event at the St James will be A Weird Night Out, a multi-zone celebration of meaningful live entertainment, arts and cultural diversity featuring a host of contemporary New Zealand entertainers.

An annual Auckland festival and a key event in New Zealand Music month, A Weird Night Out, is presented by Weird Together and Celery Productions. Spokesman Nick Dwyer says he couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to bring the festival event to the St James on May 2.

"The absence of the St James as a live music venue over the past eight years has weighed heavily and we can’t wait to put an end to that hiatus and bring our full sensory carnival vibes to Auckland’s most legendary venue."

The event’s line-up includes Weird Together, P-Money, Peacekeepers featuring MC Tali, Red Bull Sound Select and many more. Early bird tickets are available from iticket.co.nz.

Sales are also currently underway for the St James Suites, the 39-story tower adjacent to the building that includes 300 apartments, three levels of retail space and car parks.

Initially opened in 1928, the St James was one of Auckland’s most popular cultural venues and has seen the likes of Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh perform - it also played host to the 1981 Royal Variety Performance for Queen Elizabeth II.

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