Act Three Productions, founded as the Palmerston North Operatic Society, has a proud record of providing quality musical theatre to the people of the Manawatū for more than 100 years.
First named the Palmerston North Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, our first production of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ in 1900, showcased the best of Manawatū’s performing talent while building a strong and enduring community of dedicated members. In 1905 the Palmerston North Municipal Opera House was opened and soon became home to the performances by the Palmerston North Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, later to be incorporated as the Palmerston North Operatic Society (1931). The opera house was deemed unsafe by the Palmerston North City Council and was strengthened and remodelled both inside and out in 1955. It was sold by the PNCC to a businessman in 1996 and demolished.
In 1982 change came to the society, in the form of new premises, and a new name. In choosing the name ‘Abbey Musical Theatre’, the society invoked the imagery of its new premises - the old red-brick Baptist Church on Church Street – a building that, although no longer housing the society, is synonymous with the society for many in the community.
The Abbey building was built in 1928 and designed by renowned architect Fredrick de Jersey Clere and his son Herbert. It had replaced the earlier building on the site, and indeed, some of the original church-goers may have been less than pleased had they known of the building’s new inhabitants - in 1902 records show members protested against the new Palmerston North Opera House being built across the street!
In 2017 the Abbey made the difficult decision to wind up its beloved costume hire business, which also assimilated the costumes from the Manawatū Theatre Society’s costumes after it closed in 2016. The society was delighted when the costumes were sold to local costume enthusiasts and given new life at ‘Groovilicious Costumes’ – meaning a part of the society’s history is still very much part of Palmerston North’s vibrant community.
Under the name ‘Abbey Musical Theatre’, we have performed over 120 plays, musicals and revues, most of them at the beloved old Abbey building, before it was sold in 2016 and our society re-located to the Wallace Development Company Theatre in Hokowhitu.
As we were no longer in the old church, our name and brand needed to represent who we had become. In 2018, we asked members to provide feedback about a rebrand and what Abbey Musical Theatre meant to them. There was overwhelming support to make a change and we used common themes in the feedback for our new name and logo. ‘Act Three’ is about the act we don’t see on stage. It’s about a company of volunteers who contribute enormously behind the scenes to put on amazing live theatre in the Manawatū. Our society continues as strong as ever, consistently delivering world-class musical theatre performances both at the Wallace Development Company Theatre, and the Regent on Broadway.
Samantha Peters, Jacob McDonald, Lorna Stanley, Paula Fredericks, Michelle Luke, Jessie Feyen, Andrea Maxwell, Graham Johnston
The Wallace Development Company Theatre
Centennial Drive, Palmerston North
Phone (06) 355 0499