Across New South Wales restored theatres are reinvigorating towns with film and live performances, and providing much-needed community spaces.

Story By Paula Stevenson

There are not many regional theatres that can claim to have hosted a Hollywood film company, but the Royal Theatre, in the small town of Quirindi, north-west New South Wales, can.
In 2013 the theatre swelled with 400 would-be actors who were keen to have their photos and other data recorded by the staff of Universal Pictures when Angelina Jolie was shooting her film Unbroken, a war drama set in the 1920s and ’30s. Lorraine Reilly, who heads up the theatre’s volunteer group, helped to spruik for locals to be part of the action. “The theatre holds a special part in this film’s life as this is where it all started,” she says. Shooting began that December around Tamworth and Werris Creek.
The Royal held a special red-carpet gala viewing in February 2015, with guests dressed to the nines in period attire or Hollywood glamour. A buzz built up in the theatre and excitement grew as locals scanned the scenes to see if they could locate images of themselves or recognise their house or shop. There was some disappointment, however, as many realised they had ended up on the cutting room floor.
The Royal Theatre owes its revival to the work of an enthusiastic group of volunteers who help operate the theatre, sell tickets and popcorn and act as ushers. It is a community building and only one of three indoor/outdoor cinemas left in New South Wales. You can sit outside on a deckchair, look at the stars and watch the latest movie.
Local resident Gerri Perkins says that the Royal “has given our community a wonderful social experience that crosses all ages and genders. Even the under-12s are getting a taste of live theatre and they think it’s awesome”.

This Story is from Issue #101

Outback Magazine: June/July 2015