Major Productions



Brigadoon, Lerner and Loewe’s first great collaboration, is an oldie but remains one of the great musical show biz classics. Furthermore, it has great chorus scenes contrasting with last year’s triumphant Sound of Music, which has really no ensemble requirements. This musical is almost dominated by big scenes and crowded, animated groupings with their rigorous song and dance demands. This is hugely demanding on large numbers of non-speaking roles who must support the principal actors constantly. A failure to do so can destroy such a scene. This was an exceptional chorus, particularly as many are still in Year 11.

Brigadoon’s plot needs no explanation, but it contains all the human elements and emotions within the framework of a mythical highland village in lovely Scotland. Despite the sophistication and occasional cynicism of this cyber age, this cast have become comfortably and delightfully immersed in the magic of this happy good-feeling piece of musical theatre. It’s like the old chap in that TV drink driving advert who volunteers to drive the boys to their required destination and switches the radio to country and western, retorting that “I like it”. And that is exactly what our young company feels about the seventy year old quality piece of showbiz.

Of course, such an exercise as this has required (as it does annually) the skilled assistance of a large number of brilliantly willing staff and – a comparatively recent phenomenon – a coterie of pupil technocrats. The latter, virtually unassisted, have created all the sound/light magic that hugely enhanced this production. Thank you Ben “Major” and Ben “Minor”, and assistants, for your ever willing enthusiasm, time commitment and creativity. Ben “Major”, we shall miss you so much after your five year tenure in the lighting box/stage house and up THAT ladder.

Finally, but no less important, there was some ‘tinkering’ with production personnel this year. Mrs Little changed hats and choreographed Brigadoon and wow, it seems that she is as adroit at this as she has been over the recent past successes when she was Musical Director and Orchestral Director.

Michael Forde, your musical direction, choral training and performing as rehearsal pianist, was a hugely demanding ‘first’ for you. You passed with honours (1st class).

We were delighted to have Neitana Tane – former pupil and Joseph in our original 1987 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, who created a brilliant characterisation as the custodian of all that is good in the village of Brigadoon – Mr Murdoch.

Last, but certainly not least, congratulations to Reuben Brown (last year’s romantic Nazi in The Sound of Music), for his hugely successful conducting and control of our orchestra. We will miss you next year. As, indeed, we bid farewell to brilliant players from previous Major Productions – Sarah Boniface, Liam Fairbairn, Cameron Harley, Dominic Burrows (Dance School in Wellington) and the last of the Blaas family, young Rhys.

Sadly, Morgan Vandergoes and Brian Grigg who created so wonderfully, the characters of the older men with absolute conviction – and this was their first Major Production. But Brigadoon also revealed the glowing talent of Jeremy Tiatia and Sarah-Lene Hogg who will be back with us in 2018. As will be the multi-talented Kate Loan who brilliantly played multi roles in this production.

JWE Tucker

Stage Director

Article from the Express


Sound of Music

Shrek the musical

Recently students from the Junior Campus performed ‘Shrek the Musical’ to sold out crowds.  We had an amazing cast of over ninety students involved on stage as well as behind the scenes.  The storyline was loosely based around the movie of ‘Shrek’ and was full of clever humour and catchy musical numbers.   On stage the different fairy tale and forest creatures were moving to the beat and singing with gusto.  Whether a chorus member or main character in the production all students put in an amazing effort, which made it a great success.   Thank you to all of the students, staff and whānau members who supported us over the weeks leading up to our final performance.


Last staged in 1984 with the principal characters (with the exception of Bill Sykes) all played by staff members. Furthermore, all the Workhouse urchins and Fagin’s gang were all female as were Oliver himself and the Artful Dodger. Now, thirty years later, our 21st century Oliver himself was cast one hundred per cent from the pupils (students if you prefer) from both Junior and Senior Campuses. No shortage of blokes this time especially in the huge chorus of Londoners. Of course, talented young women had to be turned away as the limitations of our stage had the final say in regards to cast size. That said, it was a thundering great chorus of rhythmic movers and actors who filled the staff with colour and character in the two great chorus numbers in Oliver – the Artful Dodger’s Consider Yourself and the famous Oom Pah Pah in the Three Cripples (lovely name) pub. Hugely disciplined and accurate the chorus again were first class in the Who Will Buy scene in the posher neighbourhood of London.

2014’s chorus was exceptional. If the adult chorus reached such heights so did the Workhouse “Boys” and Fagin’s Gang (the same crew with slightly altered day wear). This group from the Junior Campus arrived fully prepared musically thanks to the expert tutelage of Miss Sue Donkin.

All the principal Dickensian characters were played with conviction. Cameron Eade’s Mr Brownlow was the stand out non-singing performance. Ebony Phillips was a delightfully empty Charlotte and Jonathan Tulett the nastiest bully Noah Claypole. Caroline Santos-O’Connell again made capital of the small role of Mrs Sowerberry and Matthew Joll was a marvellously sychophantic Mr Sowerberry.

As the Bumble/Corney pairing – but both far too good looking and pretty. Dryw McArthur and Matilda Phillips drew gasps and guffaws from the audience for their brilliant portrayal of this dreadful pair. Rose Freeborn was a lusty and powerful Nancy and her “partner” Bill Syskes was played with terrible menace by first time actor, Ben Dobbie – his villain was a tour de force.

It was a great pleasure to have Nepia Ruwhiu back from his tiny role in last year’s South Pacific to display his thespian talents with absolute conviction as a rather jolly Artful Dodger and we have four more years of Nepia here with us at the Senior Campus.

Unknown to his father, Dominic Burrows certainly proved that he could sing. This delightful young man was huge fun to direct and ultimately produced the definitive character of the musical’s title. Lionel Bart would have been delighted.

Finally Fagin. Daniel Botha’s acting career at this school/college culminates with the famous role of Fagin which he played with a delightful lightness and benign craftiness. He leaves after a glistening career both here and in the community since his arrival from South Africa in 2009. His willingness to accept ANY role and turn it into a brilliant characterisation has been a hallmark of his acting.

His impressive CV is unique in this school’s 55 years stage history.

Thank you Daniel for your unparalleled contribution to this school and our Southland community over the past five years.

Oliver’s success was as usual due to the genius of Mr Alan Pannett who designed and built the set in between his myriad demands as Senior Master. Oliver also looked good because of the involvement of a brilliant new wardrobe team led by Ms Laura Turner (convenor), Ms Michaela Thomson and Ms Martha McSoriley. They came one night during a full rehearsal and voila, two week later the finished products are what you see on the coloured section of this article.

Newcomer Pip Paulin (she has a distinguished stage pedigree) took on the task of choreographer (Ms Maria Alcock is having a sabbatical) and created all those exciting dances which all the chorus seemed to manage – even those in the back row. Finally, to musical maestro, Juliet Woller. The school is grateful for your expertise as chorus mistress, solo tutor and orchestra conductor (and trainer). What energy and expertise in such a small package!

To all the other staff members who provide their specialist talents voluntarily year after year. Mrs Lesley Horner (properties), Mrs Sharon Scobie (make-up), Mrs Jocelyn Redmond (business manager), the South and Lighting boys (Liam Fairburn, Andrew Richards, Ben King, etc, etc, Mrs Barbara Jones (publicity) and producing the best school production programmes in New Zealand and last but always brilliantly on the job, Mr Evan France as Stage Manager.

 Tucker (JPG - 73kb)

Major Production: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 2011

A warm welcome to you all.  This is our third production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first collaborative musical show.  Joseph was initially a 15-20 minute piece staged in 1968 as an end of term treat at Collet Court School in London.  Now, of course, we are seeing the extended version (it's still short by normal 'big musical' standards) and is constantly on stages throughout the world.  Theatrical impresarios rub their hands with anticipation when their theatre boards suggest another season of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Ronan Keating in the title role and Lady Gaga as Potiphar's wife.  I always think it is a shame that Elvis himself never played the Pharaoh characterisation which was virtually written for him, but by 1970 his glitter was beginning to tarnish.

Tonight's performance is the culmination of seven to eight weeks intensive rehearsal from the fifty on-stage company and their vitally important support teams; wardrobe (a massive undertaking), properties stage design, sound and lighting.

Fifteen years have passed since our first Joseph - Monica Lewinsky has come and gone along with George Bush Junior; New York's skyline has been tragically altered; NCEA has been (regretfully) introduced into the NZ Curriculum; the Celtic Tiger of Ireland is now floating belly up; what's not digital is not worth knowing and the third largest 'country' on the globe with a population of 700,000,000 is Facebook.  What has not changed is the talent and enthusiasm of the young players and the staff production team with their seemingly perennial willingness to costume, light, etc - everything that is an integral part of the jigsaw that constitutes a big musical production.

It would be invidious to make comparisons between this Joseph production and those of 1987 and 1996 respectfully.  Suffice to say that this interpretation will be equally as good and that's saying something!  You will not be disappointed. 

Jonathan Tucker

 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream (JPG - 59kb)

Major Production : Pirates of Penzance 2010

We are pleased to welcome you here tonight to our fourth production of The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan’s little masterpiece of simplicity and musical joy. We make no apology for the repetitions - it is now over ten years (2000) since we last staged it. The others were in 1988 and 1974. Despite the long-winded Victorian libretto, Gilbert’s absurd plots and sparkling wit present no difficulties for the young adult teenagers of these times. The pirates in particular is a specially apposite introduction into the harmonious world of this quarrelsome pair. Poor Sullivan wanted to write music for grand opera with lofty themes and not put pretty tunes to Gilbert’s petty plots. Both will, of course, be remembered for their brilliant collaborations and not for any of their individual compositions.

Hargest’s Pirates IV continues a tradition began in those halcyon days of 1974 when petrol was about 40c a litre, rugby union was a happy amateur game and it was difficult to differentiate the sex of individuals from behind a 1.5m high wall. The tradition to which I refer was the inclusion of staff as part of the on stage cast. It was a hugely successful experiment that has been subsequently repeated in all our G & S productions.

However, in contrast, this year the role of the Major-General – an old British buffer - will be played by 18 year old Morgan Kelly from Year 13 – a challenge that he has accepted from the outset and one that sees a budding future as a comic performer.

No prizes for recognizing the dozen staff who will be, I hope, uniform in their actions as demanded by their roles. Our Principal, Mr Andrew Wood, has been a major player in all our G & S since he first came to Hargest in the early 1980’s. He could well be seen tonight. For myself, The Pirates of Penzance will always be special as it was the first musical which I ever directed after a decade of dramas.

Again, thank you staff for willingly placing yourselves open to ridicule - you will enjoy most of it!

Thank you behind the scenes staff also, at this busy time, for heading the various departments without which none of this would be remotely possible – scenic backdrop, lighting, sound, wardrobe, properties, publicity, programme and front of house.

Finally to my dear colleagues, Juliet Woller and Maria Alcock, my continuous admiration and gratitude for your creativity without chagrin.

Jonathan Tucker

 Pirates (JPG - 99kb)

Other Major Productions

1999 "The Sound of Music"
2000 "The Pirates of Penzance
2001 "South Pacific"
2002 "Me and My Girl"
2003 "Brigadoon"
2004 "Annie Get Your Gun"
2005 "Big River"
2006 "Les Misérables"
2007 "Jesus Christ Superstar"
2008 "Grease"
2009 "Oklahoma"
2010 "Pirates of Penzance"
2011 "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Year 9 & 10 Productions

2010's Year 9 & 10 Production was Smike, directed by Jo Buist with Musical Director/Choreographer, Lesley Little, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for both cast members and audiences. The Year 9 and 10 students involved were enthusiastic and hugely talented.

1999 "Bugsy Malone"
2000 "Zombied"
2001 "Starstruck"
2002 "Stagestruck"
2003 "Oliver!"
2004 "Love Potion No 9"
2005 "Murder Game"
2006 "Skulduggery at Smugglers' Cove"
2007 "How Many Roads?"
2008 "Straight Old Line"
2009 "Footloose"
2010 "Smike"
2011 "Fiddler on the Roof Junior"