Banging on about the St James

Usually it is Brian Rudman, this time the anonymous editor of the Herald  (probably Rudman drew the short straw) banging on about the St James theatre, demanding council actions (read ratepayer money) to prop up their liberal elite past times.

Three years ago, Mayor Len Brown made a plea to the Auckland Council to explore options to save the magnificent St James Theatre. It was, he said, one of the most iconic buildings in Australasia yet it was “an open sore in the community … sitting there rotting”. Mr Brown’s enthusiastic backing for the Queen St venue’s restoration seemed like a turning point, the harbinger of a suitably splendid future. That makes it all the more ironic that, if anything, the theatre’s prospects have deteriorated since 2011 even though the case for restoring it remains as strong as ever.

Strong in Brian Rudman’s mind at least and the rest of his liberal elite pals that enjoy state and council subsidised arts programmes.

Any move to save and restore the St James will be widely supported. That backing is fully justified given its heritage and performing arts qualities. The theatre, with its ornate colonial-style interior featuring a marble staircase and three tiers of seating, more than lives up to Mr Brown’s adulation. Its 1400-seat capacity will also fill a niche in Auckland’s entertainment scene, not least for opera and ballet. Touring mainstage shows would also welcome it as a venue. Importantly, its acoustic qualities are said to match its ambience. During its 85 years, stars such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson have appeared on its stage.

Here’s a thought…if demand and the case for restoring it is so strong how about buying it yourself with your liberal elite arts pals who aren;t short of coin and fix it yourself…after all people are clamouring to it aren;t they…let the market speak for you…surely a prime candidate for a stock exchange listing as well.

Such a shame that Len Brown reneged on yet another election promise…I wonder when Brian Rudman will come out against Lenny?


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  • Shoreboy57

    If it was so great as a venue you think someone with an interest in arts / concerts would buy it. Only works with subsidies?

  • conwaycaptain

    Why don’t they buy it?? Like the NIMBYS in Devonport who wanted to save the Masonic. They used to hold their meetings in the Yacht Club as the wine was cheaper.
    Personally I think the Masonic is UGLY. They got the council to save the Victoria cinema as well.

  • Patrick

    Clearly there is no editorial input at the once good NZ Herald. Looks like it is turn about for the editors role & this week is Rudman’s turn.

  • GazzW

    Send in the bulldozers………’s a fucking eyesore. Just how many theatres do we need?

  • Josh Metcalfe

    Whatever your feelings on the performing arts, I don’t think we want to become a nation that tears down historic buildings just for the sake of unimaginative office blocks.

    • Speak for yourself. Heritage buildings turned into killers in Christchurch.

      • Josh Metcalfe

        That’s not to say we don’t secure buildings and make them safe.

  • GregM

    I think it is worth saving. It is a 1400 seat theatre smack in the centre of town with astonishing acoustics. It was originally designed for live shows, so If someone is talking on the stage, you can hear them clearly way up in the grand circle. It is a part of Aucklands history and surely there must be a way to raise the funds to restore it.

    • GazzW

      There sure is a way of raising funds Greg – launch a public company and sell shares. If that doesn’t stack up for the interested parties then bring on the wrecking ball. No way does the longsuffering ratepayer need another theatre to subsidise and no way do we need that rotting rat-infested eyesore sitting on our main street for too much longer.

    • AnonWgtn

      Talk to the Chow Brothers – am sure that they could fix it.

      • Mr_Blobby

        New Zealand’s largest strip show and you will be able to hear the panting clearly way up in the grand circle.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Is it really worth saving it is surrounded by shops, has no appeal from the street because of that.

      Then you get to the costs of say earthquake strengthening, or how about onsite parking.

      There is no shortage of venues sitting around most of the time unused.

      No, but by all means save it and restore it if you want, but if you do, go out and find other like minded people to pay for it.

  • CheesyEarWax

    The theatre is in great location for theatre going audience. Lets see, fine dining at the Oporto grilled burgers next door or if they want a bit of variety theres the Skycity Metro foodcourt across the road. After the show, patrons can also enjoy lively Queen St activities such as dodging the vomits of drunken youths and avoiding eye contact with beggars.

    • GazzW

      Remember Len’s promise to clean up the CBD? What’s happened? A couple of photo-ops of Len out with the cops and that was it. Game over.

  • Not Mark Richardson

    My fave memory of the St James would have to be Slayer in 2007

    • I remember standing outside the front of the St James watching the cops pound the shit out of the Queen Street Rioters

      • Not Mark Richardson

        A visual and aural perfect match

  • Mr_Blobby

    “Its 1400-seat capacity will also fill a niche in Auckland’s entertainment scene, not least for opera and ballet”

    When was the last time we needed a 1400 seat capacity theater, especially for opera and ballet. If you charged what the production really cost to put on very few would go, in fact you could probably hold it in the telephone box on the corner of queen.

    Brian Rudamukman you are a stupid Muppet.

  • Saccharomyces

    I have many fond memories of the St James, going to shows, retro night at Grand Circle, a number of raves…… I’m pretty sure I remember seeing movies there when I was a kid. Such a cool old venue.