Our Story

The Playhouse Cafe and Theatre Restaurant is a family run enterprise just outside of Mapua, between Nelson and Motueka. We focus on bringing our audience world class entertainment in many forms, including music of all genres, theatre, comedy and burlesque. We encourage our patrons to include dinner in their experience at the Playhouse creating a cabaret style environment for our guests.

We have a true focus on customer service with an effort to make customers as comfortable as possible. We also have a focus on our performers, making them feel at home in our large green room area, friendly staff and a large theatre stage on which they have the audiences full attention.

Over all, the Playhouse Cafe and Theatre is a unique venue with a reputation for providing great talent to our customers and a true performers venue for artists from around the world.

When it comes to ambience, The Playhouse Theatre is one the most unique and special venues in the country. In 2008 a multimillion dollar renovation was undertaken on the premise, with large changes taking place both inside and outside of the building. This transformed the ambience from small country cafe to an oasis of art and reflects the values and culture we have created here.

The artist behind the re design was the late John Gozney, and his motifs of large sculpture features and Gaudi inspired interior design have left an unmistakable mark on the venue.

From the moment you venture through the large steel archway, the massive art works, stone tables and artistic features are breath taking. The pieces are custom designed by the artist for the Playhouse, and many have practical elements to them.

The large concrete tables were built on site, while many of the steel art pieces double as lights. These are topped off by a 3 ton lime stone feature rock which was taken from the top of the Takaka hill.

Legend has it, that it was the one piece of rock the quarry bosses said was not to be taken, the audacious John Gozney took the piece anyway, and once it was down the hill there was little they could do to get it back up there.

Customers love the many nooks and crannies of the gardens and deck area, providing privacy for each group to enjoy the environment till late into the summer evening. The main deck has large glass doors which open right into the restaurant providing a lovely social space with a direct line of site right onto the stage and act for the night.

As impressive as the outside is, it is out shined by the interior.

A mass under taking from the artist has taken a standard wooden style building and moulded it into a piece of art. Gozney was truly inspired by Gaudi, and the grotto style interior of the restaurant pays homage to that. Starting with a thick layer of sprayed on styrofoam and finished with a thin layer of concrete and paint, the interior feels more Barcelona than Mapua.

Adding to this, are decorative copper plates and tubes which are also the mood lighting for the restaurant. The main focal point for patrons during the events is of course the stage. With large red curtains and a professional lighting system, each patron table is arranged to provided a good view of the performance on the night. Regular patrons will often request the raised platforms at the back of the room, which ensure the entire audience has a great view of the stage.

As a mark of respect to our love of music at The Playhouse, an extensive vinyl collection is located by the bar area for customers to flick through and explore, and we will often play vinyl before and after a show which reflects the style of music which the audience has come to see.

Beyond an artistic level, John Gozney’s technique of styrofoam and concrete has created 2 very important practical aspects to the building…amazing acoustics and excellent insulation. The uneven surface and sloping ceiling provide a perfect acoustic environment, while the styrofoam helps cool the restaurant in summer, and keeps it toasty warm in the winter.

Overall, the amazing artwork and practical design of John Gozney creates an ambience which is like no other in the country. We were very sad to hear of his passing last year and The Playhouse is legacy to his work and passion. The space is designed by a true artist, for artists and art lovers.