The producer of a troubled show axed mid-performance could have to stump up more than 1000 ticket refunds, but he says Aotea Centre's power generator is the prime suspect for the "catastrophic" sound issues.

The sound system failed during Saturday Night Fever's sole Auckland show on Friday night, leaving around 1600 fans disappointed. After crews failed to fix the issue during an intermission the show was cut short.

A man at Aotea Theatre told the Herald on Friday ticket holders were initially annoyed, but then understanding.

"The performers came back on, took a bow and waved goodbye ... it's really sad for the promoter because they don't set out to do this."


Saturday Night Fever's producer Ben McDonald agreed with Auckland Live - which runs the Aotea Theatre - that the technical equipment being used was contracted by his company rather than being the property of the theatre.

But McDonald says something in or around the venue caused the radio interference which wiped out radio frequency and caused sound failures.

"One or two dropping out is a rare event which we plan for, but the wipe-out of 20 entire radio frequency bands is unheard-of," he said.

"This can only be caused by some electrical interference in or around the venue and we believe the generator power has to be the prime suspect. "

According to Auckland Live director Robbie Macrae, the Aotea Centre had been powered by twin generators since the beginning of August, while infrastructure work took place on a new mains power supply.

Macrae called the incident "unfortunate" but said the generators in no way contributed to the sound issue.

"Whilst Auckland Live and the promoter have yet to determine the exact cause of the sound issue of Friday night's performance, it was unrelated to generator power."

The radio microphone system was used "extensively" for shows in the Aotea Centre, Macrae said, including in recent days for shows like Alison Moyet and Michael Jackson - The Legacy Tour. Macrae said none of these concerts had any radio microphone system issues.


Silo Theatre cancelled a showing of Peter and the Wolf in the Aotea Theatre on November 11 due to a power outage.

The theatre's Artistic Director Sophie Roberts said she wasn't aware of what caused the power outage and hadn't heard of any technical issues experienced in the theatre in the past.

Robbie Macrae said Auckland Live's head of technical had invited McDonald's sound supplier to provide the radio frequencies used during the Friday show, so they could scan and check them. These had not yet been supplied.

In the interim McDonald said he was stumping up the money for refunds offered to showgoers. Tickets for the show, which would tour the country until midway through December, ranged from around $80 to around $100.

He was waiting with "bated breath" for an investigation into the issue to confirm what went wrong. A conversation with Auckland Live about costs could ensue if it was found the generator was behind the issues, he said.

McDonald described it as a hiccup in what was otherwise a "career highlight".

"The following night in Tauranga the audience clapped, cheered and danced in the aisles and it was a very special night of theatre magic."