Building closed but show goes on

Published 2:00pm 6 October 2022

Building closed but show goes on
Words by Kylie Knight

Mousetrap Theatre Company’s building may be closed for structural assessment, but the show continues to go on elsewhere while Moreton Bay Regional Council determines if the building can be repaired.

Moreton Daily met with Mousetrap Theatre President Karen Matthews after incorrect reports surfaced claiming the building at Lamington Drive, Redcliffe, had been “condemned” and was “in danger of disappearing”.

Karen says a Council inspection of the building in July ahead of their production, Death in Hollywood, revealed serious structural issues.

“Council were doing an assessment of the recreational buildings in the region. As far as I know, they did the other theatre companies and theatres in the region as well. They found some structural issues that require work. They need to be fixed. They’re not just things we can ignore,” Karen explains.

“So, it was a very quick process of assessment, having a meeting and being told that the building couldn’t be used for the foreseeable future until the work had been done.

“The structural issues are with the foundations and the beam that runs across the front of the stage. It’s an old building. It’s been sitting here for a long time, these things happen.

“We had to get out in our final week before that production. We have a wonderful liaison who works in council and found us a venue for that production within days. He also found us a venue in the showgrounds for our youth classes. They were really, really helpful.”

What council says

A Moreton Bay Regional Council spokesman says the theatre is closed while a building condition assessment is undertaken, including technical reviews and costings to provide an estimate for repair costs.

“Council has worked closely with the Mousetrap Theatre Company to find them an alternate interim performance venue and assist with storage of their props and equipment, however finding a long-term solution will likely take some time,” the spokesman says.

“There are a number of structural concerns relating to the building and fire and electrical compliance upgrades are also needed.

“Finding a solution to ensure the integrity of the building will take considerable time, in the current market, where both qualified staff and construction materials are in short supply.

“There are no heritage components to the building however the cost of repairs is still likely to be significant for Moreton Bay ratepayers.

“Council will continue meeting with the theatre group as we work through these issues, to keep them informed at every step moving forward.”

Building closed but show goes on

How long will Mousetrap Theatre Company be unable to use the building for?

Karen says it is unclear how long the assessment and possible repair process will take, if council determines the building can be saved.

“Council have made a commitment to us to fix the building if it’s fixable. Now, they obviously still have to finish drawing up the plans, it has to go to a budgetary analysis as well because council have limited funding … but they have made the commitment to us that their aim is to get us back into our building.

“Initially, the projection was by Christmas when they first saw it. But as they have been assessing and finding more things and the building industry is overworked and under resourced at the moment, so it’s a case of when it happens it will happen.”

History of the building

Karen says the original building, which is the auditorium area, is more than 100 years old and was the original Redcliffe Hotel.

“It was moved to the showgrounds in the ‘60s I believe by the Redcliffe Rugby League Football Club who became the Redcliffe Dolphins and was purchased by Mousetrap Theatre who were then the Redcliffe Music and Arts Society in 1966. Since then, we’ve added backstage areas, dressing rooms and the foyer from the ‘70s-‘90s.

“The building itself is a bit of a patchwork, but each piece of it has its own history.”

Show must go on

Since vacating the building, which has been its home for almost 60 years, Mousetrap Theatre Company has performed at Redcliffe Senior Citizens Centre and most recently at John Naumann Hall, Deception Bay.

Karen says the hall is a lovely building but not a theatre.

“Our guys are very resourceful and the director for the (recent) show luckily has worked with PRIMA which is a group that tours all their shows. They don’t have a home base, so she is used to bumping in and out of hired venues,” she says.

“It’s hard work and there have been a lot of challenges for our crew, but they have met the challenge and we’ve made a community hall into a theatre.”

Where future shows will be staged will depend on venue availability and the style of show.

Karen is hoping they will be able to stage a Christmas show for one weekend in December at John Naumann Hall and she is planning a cabaret early next year.

Building closed but show goes on

Is she happy with the council process?

“My personal dealings with Council have been very positive. The Council employee we deal with has been very helpful,” Karen says.

“There is some frustration in the group because things don’t seem to be moving quickly enough and I understand that. We’re not getting a weekly update or anything because how do you update on a process. Personally, I just want to get back in … tomorrow would be great!

“They feel displaced. We’ve got people who have a 50 or 60-year history here. I’ve only been here for 30 years … I’m one of the babies!

“We have people for whom this is their social life, their hobby … when they retired, this became their job. A lot of our members have a really personal attachment to the group and to the building.

“If the building was not able to be fixed, we would still have a group but it would definitely be an adjustment process for some people and I understand that.

“I do understand that Council do not have an unlimited money pit that they can keep pulling dollars out of. Maybe all the things they would like to fix, won’t get fixed and maybe only the things that need to be done will be done.”

For information about upcoming shows, head to the Facebook page

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