Many a live theatre production fails. It is a hard business, creatively and financially. There is no shame in failure and there ought to be no cheap shots at the musical City of 100 Lovers staged at Sky City Theatre which has suspended its run after failing to attract good audiences. The production was an unabashed promotional exercise for Auckland. The title was a loose translation of Tamaki Makaurau.

It hoped to appeal to Aucklanders as well as visitors, banking on the possibility citizens would find a dramatisation of the attractions, history and culture around them as enjoyable as tourists might.

Not many did. At least, not enough to spread the word after the show opened in October.


The $8 million production, privately financed, needed to make an early splash if it was to pay its way, playing six days a week in a 700-seat theatre in a season that was to last to August.

It was conceived in response to Auckland's promotional agency Ateed's belief that Auckland needs more live entertainment at night as well as bringing the city's story to the stage.

Perhaps the lesson is that culture cannot be confected for commercial or promotional purposes. Some compared this one to an Air New Zealand safety video running for 80 minutes.

If Auckland needs more live theatre it would be better for public and private sponsors to leave the creative impulse to playwrights and dramatists.

Some fine professionals were in the production but it seems they could not invest it with the ingredient it obviously lacked, originality.