Given the Boot

Kinky Boots is the latest production in jeopardy following the Townsville floods. Jeremiah Pau (Lola) and Matthew Isokangas (Charlie) from NQOMT's production of Kinky Boots. IMAGE: Mathew Currie (OneT Creations)

The full impact of Townsville’s one-in-2000-year floods on local performance venues is becoming apparent: this morning it was announced that Kinky Boots would join the list of performances either cancelled or postponed due to ongoing repairs being made at the Townsville Civic Theatre.

Ticket sales for all events at the theatre between now and May have been put on hold, and in a statement this morning North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre (NQOMT) said, ”We are currently hoping to re-schedule Kinky Boots but this hinges on the rights holder in regards to licensing of the show which is out of our control.” (Update 20/02: Rights have been granted for NQOMT to stage Kinky Boots from 25 March – 4 April 2020).

Kinky Boots Production Manager Sasha Holmes said it was unfortunate, but was unavoidable.

“I don’t think anything that has happened in Townsville could have been avoided as this was an event unlike any other and hopefully one that will never happen to anyone again,” Sasha said.

“The theatre technicians spent long long days and nights over the past few weeks trying to contain the flood water at the Civic – there was nothing anyone could have done.

“It does give weight to the argument that Townsville needs an additional theatre space with the same capacity and capabilities as the Civic Theatre as we would love to be able to just ‘slot’ in somewhere within the theatre calendar this coming year. But we have to book time slots several years in advance and there is literally only a four day slot available. Unfortunately other venues are just not suitable for this type of show – it would be great if Townsville City Council spoke to the Entertainment Centre and struck up a deal where some of the bookings that do not require a fly tower could be relocated this year, freeing up the Civic for all the cancelled shows over the next coming months.”

The Civic Theatre is not the only venue undergoing maintenance, with the Riverway Arts Centre, Pimlico Performing Arts Centre, St Margaret Mary’s Theatre, and the Castle Hill PCYC – usually home to Townsville Little Theatre rehearsals – all sustaining damage.

In a statement last week, Townsville City Council stated:

“The Riverway Arts Centre has received significant water damage to the building. We are currently assessing the severity of the damage and plan to begin repairs as soon as possible.”

Council were approached several times for further comments regarding both the Riverway and Civic Theatres without response.

“We have already spent close to $50,000 preparing Kinky Boots for stage,” Sasha said. “Hopefully we can re-coup some of this money if we retain the rights to put on the show next year; some will sadly be lost forever. However it leaves NQOMT with a huge chunk of money tied up for 12 months and it means with the theatre closed again we lose that income to put towards future shows in the community.

“This will take the company years to recover from but that seems to be the same for the entire community affected by the floods. So far the hours put into Kinky Boots run into the thousands. I have been working on this show with the production team since last September and the cast have been rehearsing for a couple of months at least three times a week with some rehearsing four.”

For updates on Townsville City Council venue closures and event scheduling, follow Townsville Ticketshop. Productions in smaller venues are relocating where possible: Townsville Little Theatre’s Picnic at Hanging Rock will be performed at Dancenorth’s School of Arts building while PIMPAC undergoes repairs. The debate about a new performing arts venue in Townsville is nothing new – read more here.

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