Auckland Music Theatre Inc, the longest-established musical theatre company in the Auckland region, has a proud and distinguished history. The Society was founded in 1919 as the Auckland Amateur Operatic Society, renamed the Auckland Operatic Society in 1962, and Auckland Music Theatre Inc. in 1995. The changes of name symbolize the progressive stance adopted by the Society in its attempt to maintain a contemporary image in line with the vibrant and ever-developing genre of musical theatre. This enlightened approach has been one of the major strengths of the Society, enabling it to survive against all odds.
Many high-profile citizens have been associated with the Society since its inception over ninety years ago. The inaugural patron was His Excellency the Governor-General Viscount Jellicoe, K.G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., while the original committee included Mr W. J. Crowther, Mayor of Auckland from 1891-93, and Mr H.T. Goldie, a mill owner whose father had been Mayor of Auckland from 1898-1901. The Gondoliers (1919), our inaugural production, was sponsored and produced by Tom Pollard, a member of the famous Pollard theatrical family.
The Society has presented musicals, revues, concerts and plays in a variety of venues over the years. Productions range from the spectacular Glory Day musicals in His Majesty’s Theatre and St James Theatre to the more intimate shows staged in the Grafton Road Hall, St Andrews Church hall, Auckland Concert Chamber, Centennial Theatre, Customhouse Theatre, Symphonia Theatre, the Bowen Studio Theatre, and the Westpoint Performing Arts Centre.
Since its inception, the Society has been domiciled in three separate locations, reflecting the changing demographics and evolution of the Auckland region. From 1919 to 1969 our home was at 33 Grafton Road, Grafton Gully. When this was sold for motorway construction the money received was vested in the Auckland Musical Arts Trust which was set up by the Society in 1966 to protect its assets. In 1970 we moved to the old synagogue, a heritage building, on the corner of Princes Street and Bowen Avenue where we constructed our Bowen Studio Theatre. However, due to the extremely high costs of maintaining the premises, the Trust sold the lease back to the Auckland City Council in 1987, rendering the Society ‘homeless’ for approximately five years. The Westpoint Performing Arts Centre, our current home, was built in 1992-93 and is located between Motions and Meola Roads in leafy Western Springs. The complex consists of a versatile 120+ seat theatre with dressing rooms, a large separate area which is used for building sets and rehearsing, and the historic ‘shed’ which houses our costumes and props. Moreover, we have a large parking area, a priceless asset in this day and age.
In June 2009, we proudly celebrated our ninetieth year and now look forward to 2019 when we will celebrate 100 years of showcasing quality community theatre.