Live comedy returns tomorrow at New Athenaeum Theatre

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Comedy line-up . . . Dunedin Comedy pioneers the return to the theatre stage with comedians (clockwise from top left) Jonathan Falconer, Harriet Moir, Reuben Crisp, and Gary Sansome performing at the New Athenaeum Theatre in the Octagon tomorrow night. IMAGE: SUPPLIED

After almost two months of silence, Dunedin’s New Athenaeum Theatre will become the first theatre in the city to welcome a live audience when it reopens tomorrow night.

New Athenaeum Theatre (NAT) manager Ellie Swann said the space had been empty during Alert Levels 4 and 3, but the easing of restrictions under Alert Level 2 had allowed some small groups to use it for rehearsals.

“Now that gathering of up to 100 people are allowed, we are excited to be reopening to the public,” Ms Swann said.

The NAT will host a Comedy Dunedin showcase, from 8pm, featuring comedians Jonathan Falconer, Harriet Moir, Reuben Crisp, and Gary Sansome.

On Saturday night, at 7pm, Sansome will return to the stage to present his cancelled Dunedin Fringe Festival show, Bald Man Sings Rihanna

Ms Swann said the NAT was pleased to be able to offer Sansome the chance to perform his show in front of a live audience.

“We are hoping that Dunedin people will decide to come out and support these comedians, and us,” she said.

The shows will be kept relatively short, up to an hour and there will be no interval to limit movement within the theatre.

Numbers will be limited to allow appropriate spacing between “bubbles”, and audience members must book online sales.

“We are taking all the precautions we can to keep audience members safe, so it will be great to see people at the shows.”

During the lockdown period, the New Athenaeum Theatre Trust members had been looking at how the theatre was run, and how to cover costs in the future.

“We are trying to find alternative funding streams, and in the future we will need to do some fundraising, but in the meantime people can support the theatre by coming along as audience members.”