About Us

Ko mātou tēnei

Our Vision

Enriching Taranaki Communities through Musical Theatre.
Whakarangatira i ngā hapori e te whare tapere o Taranaki.

Our Mission

To be the home of musical theatre in Taranaki.
Providing a sustainable and inclusive environment for our community.
Delivery high quality shows, education and creative opportunities.

Our Values

Passion - We love what we do
Enjoyment - Having fun with like-minded people
Community – We are connected
Family – a sense of belonging in a safe and inclusive environment
Our Policies

Our People

Shaun Murphy
Amanda Bollond
Board of Management
Brad Flannagan
Board of Management
Natasha Foster
Board of Management
David Liggett
Board of Management
Mark Leuthard
Past President
Melissa Peters
Board of Management
Jess Stafford-Old
Board of Management
Cameron McHugh
NextGen Representative
Christopher Luke
General Manager
Dean Clark
Complex Supervisor
Carolyn Johnston
Costume Hire

Historical Presidents

2020-Present M Leuthard
2018-2019 H Rozon
2007-2017 KD Landrigan
2002-2006 I Robinson
1999-2002 J Murray
1997-1998 I Robinson
1991-1996 KJ Murphy
1987-1990 JM Leuthart
1982-1986 KD Landrigan
1980-1981 JWT Murphy
1978-1979 CW Rush
1975-1977 DJ Clarke
1967-1974 JWT Murphy
1964-1966 KH Spear
1962-1963 MBR White
1960-1961 MA Shearer
1958-1959 DD Hooker
1953-1957 WT Hume
1952 JC Hannon

Hon Vice Presidents

BJ Bennett QSM
JM Leuthart
DD Hooker
MA Shearer

General Manager

Christopher Luke

Historical Patrons

2009–present SM Murphy QSM
2007–2008 JWT Murphy
1972-2007 MBR White
1966-1972 CH Wynyard
1952-1965 HC Collier

Life Members

2019 Carolyn Murphy
2019 Andy Spindler
2018 John Ainsworth
2017 Jenny Bennett
2013 Sheryl Davison
2012 Cath Robinson
2009 Kevin Murphy
2008 Margaret Hurley
1999 Judith Bennett
1997 Barry Sturmey
1993 Kevin Landrigan
1993 David Inns
1991 Dorne Arthur
1986 Charles Rush
1986 Brian Inns
1985 Shirley Murphy
1985 John Murphy
1983 Don Clarke
1983 Myra Budd
1973 Merv White
1971 Cydie Strang

Our History

Our History

The New Plymouth Operatic Society has existed is some form for at least 120 years. Several times in its history the society has gone into recess, the last time being in 1935. Seventeen years later, on 30 July 1952, the New Plymouth Operatic Society was formally reformed at a meeting at the Mon Desir tea rooms on Devon Street, with Mr J Hannon as President, and New Plymouth Operatic has been producing shows for the audiences of Taranaki ever since.

The K.H. Spear Memorial

On 10 January 1968, New Plymouth Operatic’s Immediate Past President at the time, Ken Spear was killed in a road accident with his wife Verla and their two children, Carolyn and David. After joining the Operatic Society, Ken served on the committee, with three years in the role of president, and as stage manager for many shows. As a memorial to Ken and his family the K.H. Spear memorial scholarship was established by the society. Run as class in the New Plymouth Competition until 2002, the scholarship is run annually and now held at the Society’s Rooms in King Street. The Scholarship, now run in an Adult and a Youth class, requires participants to sing two contrasting songs from musicals. In 2007 the Adult section was won by Idelle Hiestand and the youth section won by Caitlin McKee.

The Top Forty

To mark New Plymouth Operatic’s 40th Anniversary in 1992, an extensive history of our society was published. Complied by local identity Brian Clark, this publication was updated and republished as “The Golden Years” in 2002 to mark our 50th Anniversary. Copies are available for sale through the Society office for $10. Contact [email protected] for more information.

“The Rooms”

In 1955 New Plymouth Operatic purchased the De Burgh Adams Lodge, in Robe Street. From this base New Plymouth Operatic rehearsed some 30 shows. The society sold the Robe Street rooms in 1981, and moved to leasing the John Avery building in Currie Street, which they later purchased. Within 6 months of purchasing the buildings the society was fielding enquiries from developers for a sale, and the property was quickly sold to developers to build a shopping centre (Now Centre City). Negotiations began in 1987 to purchase Operatic’s current home in King Street, with the purchase completed in 1988 when major redevelopments were undertaken. The complex houses the society’s wardrobe hire arm, set and props workshop and storage space, along with 2 rehearsal spaces, offices, bar facilities and a boardroom.

In The Beginning

Operatic’s first production, a three act production named December Song, opened on December 1 1952, produced by Erika Lagore. With a cast of 90, and two orchestra’s, December Song’s season was just 3 nights long, with tickets costing 6 shillings (60c) for Adults and 3 Shillings for children. 1785 patrons saw December Song, which made the society a profit of £200. After what all considered to a resounding success, the musical comedy ‘A Country Girl’ was chosen to be the society’s second production. The show, which cost just £1100 to mount and made a profit of £590.

Our Shows

Over more than half a century New Plymouth Operatic has been producing theatre as good as any other amateur organisation in the country, including such world wide hits as Les Miserables, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess, 42nd Street, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music. Every member has their favourite Operatic moment, may it be Judith Bennett’s ‘Climb Every Mountain’, John Limmer’s ‘Bring Him Home’ or David Marshall’s “Gethsemene” to name just a few. While promoting local Taranaki talent has been our primary objective, throughout our history New Plymouth Operatic has on occasion also had the opportunity to utlilise professional actors, including Rob Guest (in Half a Sixpence, 1978) Tony Williams and Yolande Gibson (Pajama Game) and Brent Brodie (Me and My Girl, 1991). For a full listing of our previous productions refer to the ‘Previous Productions’ Page.

Artistic Directors

In 1985 New Plymouth Operatic appointed its first full time Artistic Director, Dorne Arthur, who held the position until her retirement at the conclusion of the 1995 season of Chess. The position remained vacant for the next decade, until the appointment of the society’s last Artistic Director, Warren Bates in 2005.

The Opera House

Perhaps the most significant event in the society’s history has been the saving of the Opera House. A theatre was originally built in 1883 on the Devon Street site of the Opera House. Known as the Alexander Hall, it was enlarged in 1904 and sold to the New Plymouth Theatre Company and renamed the Theatre Royal but was then destroyed by fire in 1916. After being rebuilt it opened on the 28th of November 1925 as The New Plymouth Opera House and has been the ‘home’ to most of New Plymouth Operatic’s productions ever since. However, the theatre faced demolition in 1969 when its owners ran into financial trouble and the New Plymouth City Council refused to purchase the building. Members campaigned fearlessly to save the Opera House. Then President John Murphy was spat on in the street by people objecting to his campaign to have the council spend money on purchasing the building.

In 1970, although the government valuation was $135,000, New Plymouth Operatic was able to purchase the Opera House for $80,000. Operatic raised a mortgage over its rooms in Robe Street to provide funds for the deposit. To enable the purchase, a number of members; Brien Bennett, Don Clarke, Brian Inns, John Murphy, Leo Noble Campbell, David Parker, Mike Parkes, Geoff Samson, Al Offord and Charles Rush had to sign joint personal guarantees to secure funding. The Society gifted the theatre to a trust for the people of New Plymouth in 1972.

In 1999 there was a major development of the complex driven by New Plymouth Operatic and its members. Today three venues are housed within one complex – the TSB Theatre (the Opera House), the smaller Theatre Royal and the Alexandra Room realising the vision John Murphy had for the venue back in 1969. John’s legacy will always be remembered at the Opera House, with the naming of the ‘John Murphy Green Room’ after the 1999 redevelopment.
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76 King Street, New Plymouth 4310
Aotearoa New Zealand

Phone: 06 758 4958  |  Email: [email protected]
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