A home grown theatrical extravaganza, Pleasuredome is an experience the likes of which has never been seen before in Auckland. A reputed $3m has been spent on developing and staging the show, a two and half hour musical (with an interval) set in New York in the early eighties. If you’re in Auckland I’d recommend you see it before it finishes on 5th November (the standing section is great, and cheap!) and avoid reading any further, as half the enjoyment is the amazing staging I’m about to reveal…

The first sign of something out of the norm is the location, a warehouse in Avondale, just off the North Western motorway. The former home of a glass company, the only clue that you’re in the right place is a snazzy Pleasuredome sign.

There’s a few photos of New York inside but otherwise it looks like a corporate reception.

The experience really starts when you enter the graffitied subway entrance, turn right and suddenly you’re on the streets of New York City!

The streetscape contains everything you’d associate with NYC before it cleaned up in the nineties, including a grungy cinema, barbershop, laundromat, video rental store, public phone, and a newsstand and peepshow.

There’s a couple of cars on the street, a distinctive yellow taxi cab alongside a graffitied wall, and a NYPD cop car (with a couple of cops above).

My favourite was the fully equipped bar, complete with neon lighting, booths, and jukebox.

Alongside which was an authentically atmospheric side alley.

The show itself is staged at the end of the warehouse, with runway staging underneath giant disco lighting, and eight giant screens put to good use during the show.

The only comparable theatre event in recent years is the hugely successful Pop Up Globe, which with it’s current Melbourne run is showing the path Pleasuredome hopes to take overseas, taking New Zealand arts to the world.

I really hope it does, but I’m not sure if Pleasuredome will follow to be honest. The NYC streetscape is amazing, but a one off for the Auckland show, developed from existing film studio staging. The show itself was mostly savaged by the upmarket critics, but then so were the Globe productions. It is a hugely enjoyable experience, filled with great songs, fabulous costumes, energetic dancing, and all the stars Auckland can muster, but lacks the humour and story to be a classic. It is sufficiently unique though to tempt me back for a second time before it finishes though, taking the opportunity while I can…

Author: jontycrane

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