Pleasuredome - the Musical is huge: huge space, huge hair, huge show. It's fun, entertaining - and a hot mess.

The production values are uneven but put up with the ridiculous to enjoy the sublime.

There's an immediate wow factor: via a graffitied subway, you emerge on a grungy rain-slicked sidewalk.

It's like Auckland Museum's much-lamented Centennial Street got an early 1980s New York makeover, complete with porn cinema, hot dogs and a working bar.


It's utterly immersive and very impressive.

A scene from Pleasuredome.
A scene from Pleasuredome.

In the Pleasuredome nightclub along the road, Lucy Lawless is floor-show star Sappho (wink). Unsurprisingly, the plot requires skyscraper-high suspension of disbelief, with its unfinished sub-plots, confused structure and weird pacing.

An Aids memorial montage jars a bit: why include famous 1990s deaths when we're in the 1980s?

But we're here for spectacle not story and Pleasuredome delivers. Barbara Darragh's many sequined dancers' costumes are a total triumph, ranging from sexy to downright rude.

The humorous detailing is magnificent: a sequined ice-cream slapped on someone's shorts; high-cut jazzercise knickers; a louche gold mini; purple headdresses of many horns. Momentum Productions' choreography is great, too: lots of sudden freezes among raunchy shimmying, high kicks and disco pirouettes (no break-dancing). The dancers are engaging and superb.

The music (snippets rather than full tracks) is well-chosen - George Clinton, Tears for Fears, Bruce Springsteen, Grandmaster Flash et al. Ashleigh Taylor sings strong and beautiful as the ingénue.

But the sound mix is uneven and microphones didn't always work. Most unfortunate.

A scene from Pleasuredome.
A scene from Pleasuredome.

The acting is surprisingly prudish: hands paw at waists rather than groping derrieres. Lawless is comfortable as Sappho but director Michael Hurst could probably pull out more star magnetism - i.e, comedy - in everyone's acting yet.


The exceptions: Stephen Lovatt as a small-role pantomime villain and James Luck who is utterly charismatic as drag queen Dominique ("Dom by name, dom by nature!").

Pleasingly, tickets start at $35 if you stand, i.e boogie, and climb up to VIP tables. Go early, dress 80s and party on.

What: Pleasuredome - the musical
Where and when: 17-19 Patiki Road, Avondale; until November 5
More information:
Reviewer: Janet McAllister