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Theatre reopens

Robin Reid with the new and improved switchboard behind the scenes at the Montreal Theatre.

The Montreal Theatre’s renovations are just about completed, and they’re all ready to reopen this weekend with ‘Blade Runner’ on Saturday and ‘Victoria and Abdul’ on Sunday.

The changes may not be that noticeable to movie-goers, but Committee member Robin Reid said behind the scenes, it will make a big difference.

Operating the electrics is now done through a sleek and modern switchboard, rather than an ancient tangle of wires only comprehensible to a well-practiced few.

“Before there was a great big box full of wires, and it was a big spaghetti mess, and we’ve replaced that with modern circuit breakers,” he said.

“People used to walk in there and say ‘how can you keep this place going?’ It hadn’t been updated since 1930!

“When I saw it I was really happy [Electrician] Gus Ashby did a great job.” As well as the switchboard, which operates the movie projections, the house lights, and the theatre controls, they also have brand new front-of-house speakers, and six new feedback channels for live shows.

“Performers will now be able to hear themselves as if they were the audience,” said Robin.

There’s one change that will be immediately noticeable to punters. AJ Manning and Co financed the installation of three large reverse-cycle air conditioners, meaning staff will be able to temperature-control the theatre in both cold and hot weather.

The biggest and most expensive renovation, however, is still to come.

With watermarks becoming visible on the ceiling, the roof has got to go.

“It really is in a bad state of disrepair,” said Robin.

“We’ll do that early next year – roofers don’t want to work in the middle of summer, and we’ve also got school performances over the next couple of months that we really don’t want to interrupt.”

So that’s a problem for next year – for the time being, “we’re ready to rock and roll this Saturday night!” said Robin.

Money for the renovations comes from the Snowy Valleys Council Stronger Communities Grants, along with Robin Reid and Trina Thomson’s Tumut Takes 2 performance and other community fundraising.