Welcome to the historic Mercury theatre in Auckland.
Kings Theatre opened on 28th November 1910.
John Fuller & Sons commissions Architect Edward Bartley to design an Edwardian Theatre style on Upper Pitt St. Mr W. E. Hutchinson won the contract to build the theatre for £7,770. Designed as a cinema for silent films and vaudeville entertainment. Seated 1800 people: 1100 in the stalls and 700 in the circle.
Kings Theatre renamed Prince Edward Theatre
John Fuller & Co and New Zealand Picture Supplies (NZPS) combine to renovate theatre. Architect D B Patterson is engaged and a new entrance is established along Karangahape Road (Now the Norman Ng Building) at the cost of £6,000. The Dome Room is built with additional floors below. Renovations made to stage, fireproof projection box added, cinema equipment and seating reduced to 1500 people. After £17,000 spent on renovations, the Theatre re-opens as Prince Edward Theatre.
Prince Edward Theatre renamed The Playhouse
Due to poor economic times compounded from the depression and World War II, the Prince Edward becomes run down and closes in September 1947. Sir Robert J. Kerridge purchases the Prince Edward Theatre. Sir Robert renovates and upgrades the venue for live theatre. Prince Edward re-opens as The Playhouse, with the resident company called the West End Players.
Karangahape Road entrance is sold off.
Karangahape Road entrance was closed off and sold to Lum Joe Ng (Now known as the Norman Ng Building). The main entrance to the Theatre returns to the Upper Pitt St entrance, now know as France Street (Later renamed Mercury Lane).
Playhouse Theatre is sold to The Auckland Theatre Trust Board.
In 1967 the Auckland Theatre Trust Board purchase the Playhouse from Sir Robert J Kerridge for $110,000. The Theatre closes down and $250,000 is spent on major renovations to all areas of the Theatre. A 75 seat restaurant was built by cutting into the rear stalls. Upper circle reduced to accommodate a small upper theatre. Main theatre seating capacity reduced to 630 seats.
Playhouse Theatre is renamed to Mercury Theatre.
Theatre re-opens on 1st May 1968 as the Mercury Theatre. The first production was The Admirable Crichton by J.M Barrie.
Garrick Bar opens.
Garrick Bar opened on the 1st floor and Mrs Worthington’s Bar opened on the ground floor in an Art Deco theme. It was the first liquor license to be granted to a Theatre in New Zealand.
Renovations stopped due to collapsed funding
The Mercury Restoration Project Committee planned a $4 million upgrade for the theatre, however renovations stopped at the first stage due to collapsed funding. The Worthington Bar was converted into bathrooms, later added kitchen spaces. Dome Room staircase was re-located due to the planning changes. A new reception area was created. Theatre had numerous building issues and in danger of being demolished.
Theatre gets registered as a Category C Building
New Zealand Historic Places Trust registered the Theatre as a Category C building – in later years upgraded to Category 2.
Liquidators move in and sell the Theatre.
With mounting debts, liquidators move in and sell the Theatre for an undisclosed sum.
Symon Peters and John Zam purchase the Theatre.
Symon Peters and John Sam purchase the Mercury Theatre with plans to build the Theatre back up to its former glory. Unfortunately their partnership dissolves.
The Mercury Theatre is purchased by Auckland City Church.
The Mercury Theatre is purchased by Auckland City Church, who later rename as Equippers Church. The property is now in the Equippers Property Trust – a charitable property trust. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust registers the Mercury Theatre as a Category 2 Historic Place.
Mercury Theatre closes for Redevelopment and earthquake strengthening Project.
Mercury Theatre close on the 24th April 2022 for redevelopment, which includes earthquake strengthening and renovating the Theatre. Total project costs estimated to be $24million.
Anticipated re-opening of the Mercury Theatre.
Proposed concept subject to Auckland Council & Heritage approval. Approximately an 800 seat venue, with the ability to remove seats in the Stalls for a capacity of 1000 people.
Want to learn more?
View a detailed account of the Theatres History from the DPA Conservation Plan.