In March 1954 a group of people met to form the Papatoetoe Music Club. Initially the members held weekly club nights and performed annual concerts, the first being in December of that year. In 1960 they produced their first show ‘N uff Z’ in the hall of the Papatoetoe High School. This was followed by a number of Gilbert & Sullivan productions for which the club built a reputation, drawing cast members from far and wide.
In 1963 the name was changed to Papatoetoe Light Opera Club and the club joined the New Zealand Federation of Operatic Societies.
After being based in various locations, the club was offered a property at the Papatoetoe Stadium on which to build a clubroom. In 1971 the concrete was poured & two double garages were erected end to end. These were lined and fitted out with kitchen, toilet facilities and wardrobe. By 1974 our ‘home’ was completed when an old library hut was added to the property to house the club’s wardrobe. During the 1980’s we also performed our major productions in the hall at Otahuhu College.
In 1987 we received notice that a new recreational centre was to be built adjacent to our clubrooms & that we would have to vacate the land that we occupied. After negotiation we were allocated an equivalent area in this new centre. We were given a shell with toilet area & water service to a kitchen area. We then fitted out the kitchen & the theatre ourselves.
We named our new home ‘Spotlight Theatre’.
Our first production held there was a Roger Hall play called ‘Middle Age Spread’. In August 1990 the theatre was officially opened by Mrs. Nola Spier, President of the NZFOS, and a revue show ‘In the Spotlight’ was staged as the first musical production.
1997 saw another name change for the club and we became Manukau Performing Arts Inc (MPA) to more reflect the area & the varied productions that we were now presenting.
In 2009, we carried out extensive renovations to Spotlight Theatre. This saw the the addition of a new foyer, sound and lighting area, brand new changing rooms, a dedicated set building area, a new bar, increased storage for props and wardrobe, and an auditorium that can now accommodate an additional 60 people (160 total).
Our mission is:
‘To provide enjoyable, quality, live theatre to the local and wider community.’
Our membership is made up of a wide cross section of our community. We continue to embrace the cultural diversity and the youth of our city into our membership. Our close liaison with the schools in our area ensures that we have a constant flow of aspiring performers to our auditions, many of whom maintain that involvement long after any particular show. We are proud to be acknowledged by our peers as one the friendliest theatres in Auckland and we are second to none in the continuing inclusion of youth and a variety of cultures into our membership.