Off The Beaten Track in Aotearoa

A Christmas treasure hits the stage in Waipawa

The temperature’s rising, the roses are blooming, BBQ’s are in and fires are out, boots are off and jandals are on. Yes, the season is approaching.

There’s the ham to order, or will it be lamb? There’s mince pies to bake, a Pavlova to consider or maybe it will be Summer Berry Pudding this year. Shops are shiny with tinsel and more crowded by the day. And as for children, they’re getting hopeful and helpful in anticipation of outsized rewards from the man with ruddy cheeks and a famous Ho, Ho, Ho.

Christmas is a month away. It can seem like ages or no time at all. Sometimes the hurley-burly of work, Christmas “dos” (parties, if you’re not a Kiwi and don’t know our slang), shopping, catching up with friends and family, or missing those who aren’t with us anymore, can sour the reason for the season. If that’s you I have the cure.

It’s in a perfect little theatre, in a perfect little town, in the best little country in the world. Not that I’m biased or anything. You know that about me – right?

Central Hawkes Bay Municipal Theatre

Central Hawkes Bay Municipal Theatre

I’ve posted about the Waipawa Musical and Dramatic Club  before. This year they’re performing A Christmas Carol – the Blackwood and Robinson version.

Old favourites of mine, Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, come to the stage in full song.

They’re performed with a vigour and enthusiasm that’s the very best of theatre. And it’s true community theatre. There are over thirty back stage helpers. And the cast of forty ranges in age from four years to eighty-one. Grandchildren share the stage with their grandparents. Each and every participant is keen to give their audience a good show.

Speaking of audience, on Sunday afternoon there was a decent smattering of family members in that, too. Including one youngster a few seats along from us who stole the first half.

The moment in question: one of Scrooge’s char ladies declares her husband is “looking for a nice, big bird.” She laughs, and adds “Let’s hope he doesn’t find one or I’ll be out on my ear”. She exits with the best stage cackle I’ve heard in a long time. At least I assume it’s a “stage” cackle and not something the family generally gets to hear. During the ensuing pause the youngster said, loud, earnest, and sounding slightly shocked, “Silly, Grandma!” Her timing was impeccable.

I was so busy laughing I missed my sister’s stage entrance. Usually her roles are backstage or perhaps front of house. Never before on stage for all to see.

I did get her next time around, though. That’s her at the far left, with her back to the audience. Not only is she proficient at scene changes, she’s expert at hiding her face!

Got ya, D!

Got ya, D!

For some more great action shots taken during the dress rehearsal last week check out the Waipawa Musical and Dramatic Club on Facebook.

The Best Bits:

  • Best scripted line : “Time is precious, you can’t own it but you can use it.”
  • Most prescient line, Scrooge to Bob Cratchitt: “If you wish to sneeze, do it in your own time.”                                                 Once I’d have thought this a particularly Dickensian attitude. Not anymore. Not since regular breaks were legislated out of employment conditions last month.
  • Best song: Drink It In
  • Best post show moment: The back stage tour. Some of the props were still out, strangely lifeless without all the action around them. They may well be items brought from home by club members but they’ve been invested with the power of make believe. It was like being in the Toymaker’s Workshop at midnight – as soon as our backs were turned I knew something magical could happen.

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They say the Grand Old Dame’s haunted. Lights turn themselves off and on, objects move of their own accord, blue screens appear randomly on the backdrop. Perhaps there are logical explanations, or perhaps not. In a production that hinges on the powers of ghosts you have to wonder.

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Isn’t she grand!

The good news:
There are four more shows. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings this week. The final show is a matinée on Saturday. Go! It’ll set you up for the Season. Book here.

You might also enjoy:

Next to Normal in Waipawa

How’s your local community theatre doing? Are you going along to their production this Christmas?

27 replies »

  1. I wish so much that I could go and see this – and the theatre shots are so nice. 🙂 – but this is my favorite holiday play to enjoy each year – and one year – about ten years ago – I saw it three times in the month of December. We saw it in Florida while visiting cousins – went to a local playhouse and it was good – then back at home we saw it at a HS and then at our favorite college (randolph macon) – and we were just talking about it this last week because we stopped going to the Macon performance because it got so bad the last few years it was painful. That school has been doing the play for over 20 years – and it used to be well done. but the actor playing scrooge changed and then it seemed like everything was thrown together. and not that I mind – but it really was so sloppy that the irritation was painful. ha!

    anyhow, thanks for sharing about your laughter during the play – what a pure joy!!! and I liked the tidbits – the quotes and your fav song. 🙂 we have a few favorite lines that we repeat sometimes – but they are so random… like “what, the one as big as me?” – and we say it with the strong accent. ha! thanks for the memories Jill

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    • I think you’d have enjoyed it, Y. BTW I had note from the little girl’s grandma. She’s stage struck now and wants to be on stage. Which is wonderful. I’m very much looking forward it.

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  2. I fully agree it is the very best LITTLE country in the world. I have enjoyed the Kiwi community warmth, versatility and ingenuity. 😍 Being an Aussie I had to put empathise To the little. 😛 Cusie bro doing the Hakka.

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      • N Z is the best little country.
        For the size of the population it is tops in sport.
        As for scenic beauty it is amongst the best.
        Kiwi hospitality and their ingenuity is unsurpassed.
        When it comes to big countries I love Aussie.
        Aussies are also great sports, when we are winning. 🐨

        Liked by 1 person

  3. After 53 years I still find it hard to believe it is almost Christmas. I’m conditioned to expect cold, rain, and maybe snow. But as it gets to the last couple of weeks the spirit of it catches up with me. That lovely theatre and performance of ” Christmas Carol” would certainly get me in the mood for Christmas

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  4. What a beautiful little theater. We have a similar one in Hartford, where we saw A Christmas Carol a number of times. I like that play up close. Thanks for the back stage tour. I love the picture of the ropes.

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      • My grand daughter Athena is almost five years old. That was the first time she has been old enough to see me on stage. My daughter had no hope of keeping her attached to her seat for very long. She has commented that she wants to learn all the songs so she can be on stage in a show with us. No doubt in the future we will see her up there with the other children..

        mrs Dilber ( the cackler)

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  5. Got the rolled turkey and chocolate pudding for Christmas already as we are going away to Tasmania for a few weeks before Christmas.

    It’s always nice to see a Christmas show at this time of year.

    You are right – it is a good way to stay cheerful as there is always a little sadness to Christmas when people are missing. I still love the day though. 😊

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  6. Mince pies and musicals…those area always the subtle and best parts of the holiday season for me. Very much enjoyed reading this post, as it reminds me of being back in my home town ~ with nothing but family, friends and the holidays all around 🙂

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  7. Perfectly written, Jill! Great to see that in small towns like yours there are so many things happening! You all keep up a theater made by more than one generation! Bravo!!!

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