Assassins – 2015
In Week 1 of Term 3 the school enjoyed this year’s production, which was a radical change of direction from previous years, in that the school musical was very serious and earnest in nature, with a strong political message. Acclaimed musical dramatist Stephen Sondheim (“Sweeney Todd”, “Into The Woods” & “West Side Story”) and John Weidman’s “Assassins” is a complex political theatre piece, in which the lives of nine famous assassins from American history are put under the microscope. Each assassin has their motivations and political ideology examined, in the hope that each assassin can be better understood, although definitely not forgiven. Along with infamous assassins such as John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald a large ensemble of assassins, Presidents, bystanders, children and political movers of each period was shown onstage. Unusually, the set design was made up of only two elements: covered boxes designed by Mark Masterton and digital projection. With a different image/design on each face, the boxes were manipulated in such a way as to make them key performers in the piece, and the digital projections allowed for an execution by “electrocution” (of Nick Curry as Giuseppe Zangara) to take place, and for it to “rain” onstage, as Emma Goldman (Lina Kim) spoke to a political rally. The boxes and digital projection combined beautifully in the final scene, to recreate the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, on the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Coupled with a striking stage design was the lighting design, which was impressively executed by student Carl Bennett. The production also boasted a fourteen piece orchestra, all students (bar one staff member: Hayley Barker on Trombone), who played the demanding score with skill and composure, led by the unflappable Musical Director Warwick Robinson. Lee McClymont did wonders with his technical team, and MJ Milburn (from WGHS) gave huge service as Stage Manager.
Watch out for auditions for next year’s bicultural “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and also for “Sweeney Todd” in 2017, although this show will be auditioned next year in Term 3.
Nick Brown, HoD Drama
Return to the Forbidden Planet – 2014
This year’s production rocked. The show takes the plot of The Tempest, Shakespeare’s language culled from several plays and the rock and roll favourites everybody loves and combined them all in a series of wild and funny nights. Our Tech boys salivated at the chance to incorporate video, live feed from a TV studio, Go Pro footage and an impressive light show and their inventiveness was inspiring. Our band led by Libby Beattie were very tight and Ms Beattie has definitely earned her Musical Director stripes.
We had a few novices in main roles who absolutely deserved the confidence I had in them, so congratulations to Jacob Siermans, Jayden King, Matt Bruce and the beautifully over the top Mitchell Hazelhurst and the unforgettable Jason Wahid. Harley Ofoia had already proved himself a skilled actor in the Drama productions, where his ability to get humour out of almost any line is legendary, but this time we found out he could sing as well. The tried and tested combination of Michael and Daniel Lough were joined this year by their little brother Matthew; how one family can have so much talent is hard to believe and doesn’t seem fair! Although this is the boys’ school website, not to mention the amazing Charlotte Rankin, Charisse Uy, Maddie Bullock and Natalie Groen would be rude as they were not only highly talented, but a delight to work with as well. Grace Stevenson, who played Gloria, is awesome and should probably have had directing and choreographing credits as well; she is a complete professional. This whole cast were a joy to work with from start to finish and I will miss Sunday afternoons with them and their good humoured enthusiasm.
Now the show is over and my room is filled with forlorn looking people (some of them staff), smelly costumes and a fake hairy chest all hanging around, waiting for the next one…
Once on Chunuk Bair – 2014
The centenary of The Great War is this year and we decided that this play would be a fitting tribute; a historical exploration of the New Zealand forces holding Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli in 1915. The set, devised by Art Teacher Mark Masterson was simple; black boxes each holding a cross, a candle and some poppies and was very effective and Carl Bennett proved his technical skills again rigging up a remote control that caused rifle fire and grenade explosions that added hugely to the atmosphere.
Harry Davies was excellent as Colonel Connolly and Oliver Haywood and Sam Sherriff stood out in the role of Lieutenant Harkness. The astounding performance award went to Josh Wyatt, who battled post-operative tonsil infection to produce a heart breaking performance as the only survivor Sergeant Frank, a tribute to Josh’s skill, stoicism and Tramadol.
You make me very proud boys…again.
Of Mice and Men – 2013
This famous story was adapted for the stage by John Steinbeck and is set on a ranch in the Salinas Valley in America. We took delivery of 50 hay bales and, artfully arranged, they constituted the set. The main characters Lennie and George were played variously by Dan Devrell, Elliott Henare, Josh Alach, Sam Sherriff and Mitchell Dye each interpreting the roles differently, but all were compelling. Jim Paea played Crooks the embittered stable hand with relish, clearly enjoying every minute of the role.