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10 years of Senior Productions

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2023

More news for Cultural

Scene from Urinetown Senior Production.

St Andrew’s has a long and proud history of theatre, going right back to 1921, when the College put on its very first production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Today, the annual Senior and Middle School Productions are highlights on the cultural calendar, with the incredible talent and professionalism of the young actors and singers wowing audiences year after year.

As the cultural community looks forward to performing in the stunning new Gough Family Theatre, it is a perfect time to look back on the last 10 years of Senior Productions at St Andrew’s. Reflecting on these wonderful shows is a great reminder of what audiences can look forward to, and is also a tribute to the decade of hard work by the brilliant trio, Head of Drama and Dance, Laurence Wiseman; Head of Music, Duncan Ferguson; and Dance and Drama teacher, Ginnie Thorner. As the director of the Senior Productions, Laurence extracts stunning performances from the young actors and singers in the shows, which are choreographed by Ginnie alongside her daughter, Hana Pearce (OC 2019). Ginnie also directs the Middle School Productions, guiding younger students to shine on the stage. Duncan does a huge amount of work on the music and has been involved with an incredible 25 shows. He rehearses the bands/orchestras on the challenging scores which cover a wide range of musical styles, then conducts the musicians and plays bass during the shows. Together, these three passionate educators have guided, stretched, and inspired countless young actors, singers, dancers, and musicians to reach extraordinary heights on the stage, while working alongside highly skilled technical crews, costume and set designers, and volunteers. It is a legacy they are set to continue in the new Performing Arts Centre.

2014 – Guys and Dolls

The polished and professional 2014 performance of Guys and Dolls was the first show Head of Drama and Dance, Laurence Wiseman, directed at St Andrew’s. It was his third encounter with the show, after appearing in it as a 15-year-old, and it being the first musical he cut his directing teeth on. The show received rave reviews with audiences,
impressed by the students’ energy, enthusiasm, and joy.

2015 – Urinetown

The fast-paced, witty, and original musical, Urinetown, was a complex, multi-layered mockumentary-style show, taking a satirical look at musicals from melodrama, to naturalist, to Broadway drama. It was a brave choice, but risk-taking is something Laurence Wiseman has become known for over the last decade, trusting students to take on challenging roles and themes.

2016 – Cabaret

Cabaret had everything from tenderness, tragedy and hedonism, to love, humour, loss, and terror. The young cast entranced the audience, delivering powerful performances as they tackled several strong themes and storylines, leading to a final shocking scene. Cabaret was daring, dangerous, brilliant, and somewhat risky. But it was a risk that most definitely paid off.

Encore Senior Production scene.2017 – Encore!

Guests at the Gala Dinner during the College’s Centenary celebrations had a wonderful sneak peek of the Senior Production Encore!, a showcase celebrating 100 years of theatre at St Andrew’s. With 19 big productions numbers from much loved musicals performed throughout the College’s history it was a challenging
show, which was delivered in spectacular fashion by the talented cast.

2018 – Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers is a popular global show, and the 2018 performance by St Andrew’s students could have graced any stage. The powerful, tragic story of twin brothers, separated at birth but who form an unlikely, yet powerful friendship was played with great depth of emotion and understanding by the young cast. Spontaneous standing ovations each night left the entire production team in no doubt of the audiences’ appreciation.

2019 – Parade

The young performers in Parade displayed not only enormous talent, but also incredible maturity and understanding of the show’s complex themes around racism, prejudice, oppression, and hate speech. The mosque attacks in Christchurch happened during the show’s rehearsals which gave the students even greater drive and determination to deliver the show’s powerful messages. Parade moved, provoked, and challenged audiences who were impressed by the students’ top-quality performances.

Cry-Baby Senior Production scene.2020 – Cry-Baby

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Cry-Baby was only seen by socially distanced groups of parents and cast, and a ‘bubble’ performance for students and staff, however the cast of the rockabilly romp still delivered a brilliant toe-tapping extravaganza, bringing the ‘girl meets boy from the wrong side of the tracks’ story to life with high energy and an enormous amount of fun. It was just the tonic for a trying 2020.

2021 – Chicago: High School Edition

There was razzle dazzle to burn when the senior students tackled the provocative, well-known show, Chicago: High School Edition, with its timeless narrative around media control. Audiences were wowed by the high-energy musical numbers and outstanding performances, with many commenting that the performances were so good, it could have been a professional show.

2022 – Songs for a New World

With no theatre to perform in, the decision was made to stage Songs for a New World ‘in-the-round’ in a stunning set and mini theatre, in Gym 1. The complex show featured a cycle of songs all connected by a similar theme, ‘the moment of decision’. The young performers and band delivered incredible performances of the show's demanding vocal and musical score.

Bright Star Senior Production scene.2023 – Bright Star

The cast of Bright Star delivered dazzling performances as they portrayed a story of love, loss, heartbreak, and redemption. Set almost 100 years ago, the stunning score featured everything from bluegrass to country and folk music, which was brilliantly played by the live band. The production team, cast, and crew strived for excellence in everything they did, making Bright Star an unforgettable final show before the Performing Arts Centre becomes the new creative hub of St Andrew’s.

Our decade of stellar Senior Productions paves the way for the new Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre and Gough Family Theatre era.