Riverlea Theatre

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From young children to teens and adults, over 6000 people enjoy our venue each year - but it desperately needs upgrading. Will you help?

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  Waikato Fun Youth Performance

Every week our venue buzzes with the voices of young children in Stagecraft classes, is filled with laughter of teenagers rehearsing, and the hum of adults building sets, rigging lighting and rehearsing musicals and plays. Regularly audiences arrive to be transported into another world for a while - perhaps to New York for 'Westside Story', or an Oxfordshire village with 'The Vicar of Dibley.'

Some of the children are brought to drama classes by their parents to build confidence. Take someone like Sophie, who joined us a while ago after being bullied at school. Now she is smiling and looking forward to her classes each week with her new found friends. Some are enjoying some creativity and friendship after a day at work - like Dave, who was struggling to settle in after moving to Hamilton with his job, but is now enjoying the camaraderie of building sets with the rest of the crew. Others are gaining skills and experience to develop a career in the performing arts - several of our youth performers have gone on to study in Wellington, Auckland and Australia, and pursue careers in film or theatre.

At Riverlea we are proud of our reputation as a friendly welcoming theatre. We have a challenge ahead of us though. Our building is very old, and becoming less attractive and pleasant to be in - and frankly, soon it will not be healthy and safe. Despite many repair jobs we now have to face facts, and start rebuilding and renovating. While we do that, it makes sense to improve some areas to make them more usable and comfortable in the years ahead.

We are now asking the community to help us. We are so appreciative of those who supported us in many different ways to purchase the land under our building in 2015. Will you help us again? Every little bit helps, and as this will be a multi-stage project, we encourage you to consider regular donations. A coffee a week perhaps? All contributions are so much appreciated.

Please also watch out for our events and other fundraisers. We will update here, and also on our facebook page - @riverleatheatre

Riverlea has been operating as a community theatre for over 25 years, and is run independently by a Board. It is home to, and used regularly by Stagecraft Theatre School, Playbox Repertory Inc, Musikmakers Hamilton Inc, and also used regularly by Hamilton Competitions Society and Scouts Waikato. It is often hired for events like weddings, birthdays and life celebrations.

More about us

Riverlea Theatre provides affordable, quality theatre for the Hamilton public, encouraging adults and children to develop confidence, performance and social skills. Our venue is well-known for its friendly atmosphere. Home of three performance groups - Musikmakers (musical theatre), Playbox (Repertory) and Stagecraft (performing arts school) - it is also used by a range of other community groups.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and supporters, in 2015 the Riverlea Board purchased the land under our building from the city to prevent it being sold to commercial interests. But sadly our much-loved venue is looking her age. It's now time to fundraise again to gradually re-build so she is usable, safe and pleasant to be in for many years to come. We can't do it on our own, and seek the help of the community.

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Latest update

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Cowboy Christmas now selling!  13 October 2019

Thanks for being a supporter of Riverlea Theatre. We are excited to let you know that we have made our first step to start the building upgrade!! - we now have a new disability bathroom where the very old box office used to be. A small step - but an essential one before we are allowed to start working on the stage and auditorium area!

A great way to support our rebuild, is to buy tickets to our events. Coming up in November and December is our Christmas production of Cowboy Christmas. Written by local playwright Michael Switzer, this hilarious production full of well-known and loved music is ideal for end-of-year celebrations for friends, work groups, clubs and so on. Why not get together a group and join us for a yummy dinner and upbeat show? We'd love to host you.

As with all our venue events, information and ticketing can be found on iticket.co.nz. Just search Riverlea Theatre or Cowboy Christmas.

We hope to see you soon!

Read 4 more updates

Latest donations

  • Emah

    Emah on 12 Oct 2019



    • Riverlea Theatre

      Thanks so much for your donation - it's much appreciated.

  • Laura

    Laura on 20 May 2019



    • Riverlea Theatre

      Thanks so much for your donation. It's very much appreciated.

  • Easter egg

    Easter egg on 18 Apr 2019


    Happy Easter


    • Riverlea Theatre

      Thanks for the Easter egg!

  • Andrea Phillips

    Andrea Phillips on 18 Apr 2019



    • Riverlea Theatre

      Thanks so much for your generosity.

  • Guest Donor

    Guest Donor on 17 Apr 2019


    Easter Egg


    • Riverlea Theatre

      Thanks for the Easter egg!

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