January 10, 2017

John Smythe      posted 1 Jan 2017, 06:26 PM / edited 4 Jan 2017, 07:26 AM


8th October 1961 – Friday 26 December 2016

A full-to-overflowing house celebrated the life of Michele Louise Amas at All Saints Church, Hataitai, Wellington, on Friday 30 December 2016. The insightful tributes offered at her funeral focused largely on her life outside theatre, honouring especially her commitment to motherhood which she saw as her most important role. It emerged Michele often considered occupations other than acting, believing (as I interpret it) she’d make a more meaningful contribution to society as, for example, a teacher or social worker. So I want to say that her work as an actor – and as a poet and playwright – was a huge and valued contribution to our collective understanding of humanity.

On stage, whether the plays were tragic or comical, real or surreal, she inhabited her roles absolutely, drew us into their worlds and commanded our empathy no matter how ‘sympathetic’ or otherwise, her characters were. For the record:


Terry MacTavish, Michele’s teacher in Dunedin, posted on Facebook: “Michele’s performances for me at Queen’s all those years ago – Katherine the Shrew, Maria, Kate Hardcastle, Gammer Gurton, even bossy Ratty – all so beautifully realised and each so vivid in my mind still.”

At Otago University Michele played Polly Garter in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, directed by Lisa Warrington at Allen Hall Theatre in 1981.

In 1984 Michele gained a New Zealand Drama School Diploma in Acting then a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 2002.

I don’t have immediate access to the full reviews of theatre shows before 1999 but the two Circa books (1976-1996 compiled by John Reid and Ruth Jeffrey; 1996-2016 compiled by Linda Wilson) remind us that Michele played:

Raewyn Bishop in the world premiere of Robert Lord’s Joyful and Triumphant directed by Susan Wilson at Circa, February-March 1992;

Stephanie Stratton in Alan Ayckbourn’s Time of My Life directed by Bruce Phillips at Circa, March-April 1994;

Deirdre McDavey in Paul Rudnik’s I Hate Hamlet directed by Ross Jolly at Circa, September 1994 (the last show in the Harris Street space);

Harper Amaty Pitt in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, directed by Susan Wilson to open the new Circa Theatre, November 1994;

“Michele Amas finds the correct balance between the dippiness and normality of Harper.” (Laurie Atkinson, Evening Post)

Kyra in David Hare’s Skylight directed by Bruce Phillips at Circa, August 1996;

“Michele Amas and Ray Henwood act together with great warmth and subtlety. Henwood paces about the small dingy flay exuding the restless energy that is the wellspring of Tom’s business success and he flick home all the humour of the role with the practiced ease of a master craftsman. Amas’s Kyra watches and reacts to this human dynamo with wry looks and sudden outbursts of outrage and frustration. She tackles the big speeches … with a singular inner fire. To notch performances.” (Laurie Atkinson, The Evening Post)

Susanna Hall in Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed directed by Susan Wilson at circa, September-October 1997;

“Set in 1613, the play’s central character is Susanna Hall, Shakespeare’s eldest daughter, who is married to a Stratford-Upon-Avon physician and assists him in his work by making up herbal remedies. In so doing she lays herself open to charges of, at the worst, witchcraft and, at the least, lack of femininity, of not knowing her place as a wife and mother … Michele Amas plays her with grace, passionate dignity and fine intelligence.” (Susan Budd, The Dominion)

Raewyn Bishop in the revival of Robert Lord’s Joyful and Triumphant directed by Susan Wilson at Circa, Wellington, November-December 1997;

Amy Thomas in David Hare’s Amy’s View directed by Susan Wilson at Circa, May-June 1998;

“… a younger woman whose consuming belief that love conquers all renders her appallingly vulnerable to the emotional demands of others. Michele Amas gives a lovely performance of a woman whose inherent goodness is not insipid but a powerful force in the lives of all she touches.” (Susan Budd, The Dominion)

Fran in Jennifer Compton’s The Big Picture directed by Susan Wilson at Circa, October-November 1998;

“The Big Picture achieves applause for its honesty, racy storyline, raw humour and faultless cast.” (Sarah Evans, City Voice)

Also in the late 1990s, Michele played pathologist Jennifer Collins and the TV series Duggan.

Extracts from theatre reviews 1999-2016

Travesties by Tom Stoppard

directed by Sue Wilson at Circa, Wellington, October-November 1999

Joanne Mildenhall and Michele Amas mine rich subtext as Gwendolen and Cecily respectively, bringing it all to a foaming head in the splendidly choreographed parody of ‘Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean’.

John Smythe, National Business Review, 5 November 1999

Joanne Mildenhall and Michele Amas deserve to dominate the second half as Gwendolen and Cecily, part Wilde’s creations and part Stoppard’s. Their catfight, lyrics and movement set to music, earned a round of applause.

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times

A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee,

directed by Bruce Phillips at Circa, July 2000

Michele Amas makes the daughter, Julia, swing credibly from intolerance to territory-protecting anger.

JS, NBR, 7 July 2000

Amas, Fraser and McKenzie provide outstanding support.

Timothy O’Brien, The Dominion

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, English version by Tom Stoppard,

directed by Susan Wilson, at Circa, September 2000

Fascinatingly, the performances that generate the biggest laughs are Michele Amas’s manic-depressive Masha and Peter Hambleton’s socially inept and boring school teacher, Medvedenko. While Shakespeare found pathos in fools and gulls – as in those whose pretensions were finally pricked by trickery – it was Chekhov who pioneered ‘comedy-of-anguish’.

JS, NBR, 15 September 2000

The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson

directed by Ross Jolly at Circa, October 2000

Teresa (Michele Amas) sees herself as the martyred saint in the family. Whether it is nursing their mother, organising her funeral or sorting out her things, it is always Teresa who does it. Her general sanctimony and new puritanism … is hilariously subverted by whisky and the ruthless honesty it induces.

JS, NBR, 20 October 2000

Michele Amas is gloriously funny as the straight-laced, clean-living Teresa who can’t hold her booze …

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times

The Country Wife by William Wycherley

directed by Ken Blackburn at Circa, Februay-March 2001

Michele Amas as Margery Pinchwife is extremely funny, particularly when Margery is in a hot fit to get better acquainted with Horner. Her naivety and rude manners are a nice contrast with the sophisticated bitchiness of Anne Budd’s Lady Fidget and Jane Donald’s Dainty Fidget.

Laurie Atkinson, The Evening Post

Michele Amas puts in a consummate country bumpkin comic turn as [Pinchwife’s] wife Margery …

JS, NBR, 16 February 2001

Take a Chance On Me by Roger Hall

directed by Susan Wilson – at Circa, August-September 2001

Donna Akersten (Lorraine, the navy widow), Stephen Gledhill (Tim, the deserted Pharmacist), Denise O’Connell (Eleanor, ex-wife of the left-for-the-receptionist lawyer), Ross Gumbly (Brian, the bewildered bogan), Michele Amas (Fleur, the abandoned primary teacher) and Edward Campbell (Dan, the widower and retired banker) all find moments of truth with their characters and have yet to resolve others. One challenge they constantly face is having to maintain the credibility of their real-world characters – who give us comedy of insight born of recognition, empathy and compassion – while playing scenes with a broad caricature that we’re being asked to laugh at rather than with.

JS, NBR, 17 August, 2001]

Noises Off by Michael Frayn

directed by Susan Wilson – at Circa November-December 2001

Meanwhile the country house owners, Philip Brent, played by Frederick “you know how stupid I am” Fellowes (Nick Blake) and Flavia Brent, played by know-all gossip Belinda Blair (Michele Amas), who are living in Spain to avoid income tax, return for a clandestine anniversary celebration …

After interval the uniformly excellent Circa cast deliver a tour-de-force as life imitates farce imitating life in the parallel universes of onstage performance and backstage jealousies. As a display of thespian skill, it is the highlight of the night.

JS, NBR, 23 November, 2001

The large cast uniformly performed with energy and zeal … Their ensemble playing and control was superb, with near-perfect timing and execution of lines and action, especially during the two backstage scenes.

Ewen Coleman, The Evening Post

Life X 3 by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton

directed by Ross Jolly – at Circa, May 2002

As Sonia, Michele Amas is also exquisite, bringing subtle yet total conviction to each of the many ways she has to be.

JS, NBR, 17 May 2002

Trick of the Light by Ken Duncum

directed by Katherine McRae – at Circa, October 2002

Michelle Amas makes a splendid contrast between the uptight, mistrusting Clare (whose quest for order echoes her father) and the free-willed and open-minded Jan.

JS, NBR, 4 October 2002

Sean Allan (Bevan/Tom) and Michele Amas (Clare/Jane) rightly carry the evening … Amas just gets better and better. Here she slips effortlessly from jumpy control-freak sister to passionate, idealistic mother.

Harry Rickets, New Zealand Listener

[This is where Michele took a break from acting …]




In 2001 Michele wrote and directed the 8 minute short film Redial, which was in competition at Venice International Film Festival in 2001. Here is her director’s Statement (from the NZ Film Commission website):

“In this film I wanted to look at random-ness and opportunity, to create a ‘slice of circumstance’ situation that can occur every day, one which you can either choose to explore or leave for what it is – a coincidence.

Two individuals find themselves in a situation where the sound of each other’s voice is the only indicator they have – should they explore the moment, or retreat? As their first random tenuous connection stretches to breaking point, they are abruptly drawn together by an external event.

As an audience we have the luxury of seeing into their lives, homes and situations on this particular day. We get a sense of similarity before the characters themselves do, but just how much these two people want to be known to each other is the question – as they struggle to balance vulnerability and risk.

Redial presents a God’s-eye view of paths crossing.”


A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, adapted for the stage by Patrick Garland

directed by Michele Amas at Court Two, May-June 2003

This Virginia, deliciously rendered by Denise O’Connell, is knowledgeable, intelligent, witty, insightful, eloquent, ruthless, compassionate, censorious, humane, angry, passionate and creative. Clad in stylish tweed by Tina Hutchison-Thomas on a simple and effective set by Harold Moot and soundly directed by Michelle Amas, she is as formidable as she is engaging and entertaining.

JS, NBR, 23 May, 2003

Telling Stories by Craig Thaine,

directed by Michele Amas, Circa Studio, August-September 2003

The challenge Thaine has set himself, within his well-wrought structure, is how to articulate his scholarly research in dialogue. His solution is to use the women’s own words wherever possible – and this creates a whole new challenge for the actors and their director, Michele Amas.

Both women are very articulate on paper – after much rewriting and revising. But the same words spoken as dialogue convey a super-confidence that works against the actors’ need to access the fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities that are at the heart of their relationships with themselves and each other.

Their solution is to let the prose flow and allow those other dimensions to surface as and when Thaine’s text allows. Both Tina Regtien (KM) and Denise O’Connell (VW) speak their lines with great clarity and intelligence, allowing us to wallow in a welter of interesting observations, telling opinions and wise insights on and about their lives and the art of telling stories …

Michele Amas’s directorial feel for rhythm, pace and focus ensures the play is always compelling.

JS, NBR, 22 August, 2003

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, adapted for the stage by Patrick Garland

directed by Michele Amas at Circa Studio, July 2004

This incandescent performance by Denise O’Connell, intelligently directed by Michele Amas, honours the essence of Woolf’s now classical essay by giving it heart, form and undeniable life. It offers knowledge, wisdom, humour, pathos and a substantial supply of food for thought amid engaging opportunities for subjective empathy and objective awareness.

A simple and minimal yet dynamic production, skilfully punctuated by Jennifer Lal’s lighting transitions, A Room of One’s Own makes its audience feel part of the conversation. And you are.

JS, NBR, 9 July 2004


Michele completed her MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University in 2005.

After the Dance Michele Amas

Victoria University Press, 2006

“The folk tale feel of these poems gives them the power of some magical charm or dispensation uttered to dispel a curse. The book feels like a transforming spell – something which is spoken aloud to redeem the past and restore possibility.” – Bill Manhire

“Michele lives experiences with intensity and reworks them in her poems with the same intensity, with heart truthfulness, eyes wide open in the dark. She takes the dark into her work, alive with sparkly wit and good humour.” – Bernadette Hall

[While this was being published, Michele returned to acting …]



(Click on the titles for access to the full reviews. Unfortunately links to NZ Listener and Lumiere Reader reviews no longer work so those reviews cannot be retrieved.)

Dinner by Moira Buffini

directed by Bruce Phillips at Circa One, January 2006-February 2006

… and it’s a welcome return to the stage for Michele Amas as Wynne, who earns many of the best laughs with a charming performance

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times, 25 January 2006

As Lars’ recently rediscovered childhood sweetheart Wynne, a separatist feminist turned eroticist artist suddenly abandoned by her politician lover, Michele Amas brings a much-needed, if slightly daffy, humanity to proceedings.

JS, NBR, 27 January 2006

Home Land by Gary Henderson

directed by Jane Waddell at Circa One, October-November 2007

Also returning to the stage (and Circa) after a long sabbatical (as a writer), Michele Amas distils the curdled essence of a successful corporate daughter, Denise, still yearning for her father’s approval, magically winning our empathy through her often maddening behaviour.

JS, Theatreview, 15 October 2007

The American Pilot by David Greig

directed by Susan Wilson at Circa One, May-June 2008

As Sarah, his wife, Michele Amas epitomises the sometimes ruthless pragmatism of the maternal instinct.

JS, Theatreview, 12 May 2008

The farming family (Bruce Phillips, Michele Amas and Jodie Hillock, all excellent as father, mother and daughter) who save and try to shield him, also pay a high price for their humanitarianism … It’s a cracking script, sensitively directed by Susan Wilson and acted by her cast.

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times, 14 May 2008

Mammals by Amelia Bullmore

directed by Susan Wilson at Circa One, August 2008

Thankfully director Susan Wilson and her cast avoid this pitfall, ensuring the humour arises from the accurately observed behaviours Bullmore has dramatised. And it’s the children who concern themselves with the big issues – Jess (Jane Waddell) fixates on private parts and sex while Betty (Michele Amas) is preoccupied with death …

With ‘truth’ being a paramount theme, the compulsively honest in-the-moment responses of the daughters stand as a constant comparison to the adults’ more complex and devious behaviours …

All the actors align to an ideal performance pitch that demands we empathise with their issues while allowing us to step back and observe how bizarre the ‘ordinary’ behaviour of the human male can be.

JS, Theatreview, 3 August 2008

… but what makes Amelia Bullmore’s debut and prize-winning comedy different is that the children, Betty and Jess, are a continual presence, on stage and off, as they ask embarrassing questions about mortality, sex and hairy fannies, interrupting the adults at moments of crisis, and dominating the household with their egocentric demands.

They are played, of course, by adults. Jane Waddell is the older Jess and Michele Amas is Betty and they are both very funny and both avoid the clichés inherent in adults playing children. I shall long remember Betty announcing “I’m going to be shy” as she buries her face in her mother’s lap when Phil and Lorna arrive …

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 5 August 2008

And bringing much needed warmth and laughter to the warring factions are Jane and Kev’s kids, wee Jess (Jane Waddell) and Betty (Michele Amas), who are six and four respectively. Jess is preoccupied with fannies and Betty with mortality, asking those big questions without regard to adult discomfort.

The children make the play, without them there would be no real heart to it and damned few laughs. Waddell and Amas couldn’t be more delightful as the girls, not overplaying the parts and clearly giving themselves over to their children within.

Lynn Freeman, 6 August 2008

Rock ‘n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard

Directed by Susan Wilson at Circa One, February-March 2009

As his wife Eleanor, testing her students’ understanding of Sappho, Michele Amas compels our empathy with the grief, anger and momentary cruelty of a woman who has lost a breast to cancer and is confronting her mortality. Amas’s Act Two metamorphosis into the older Esme, who eschewed higher education for getting high on grass, and dwells on an hallucination (or was it?) of Syd Barrett as the great god Pan, and now feels intellectually inadequate, is equally compelling, especially when her daughter Alice proves to be as academically onto it as her grandmother Eleanor was even if her musical taste is wanting.

JS, Theatreview, 1 March 2009

Michele Amas, who is, as usual, superb, plays two roles: Max’s cancer-ridden wife Eleanor, and Esme, Eleanor and Max’s daughter who as a girl (played by Sophie Hambleton) saw Syd Barrett (or was it Pan?) in the garden.

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 2 March 2009

The scenes between Max and Eleanor about the onslaught of cancer and later when Jan and the older Esme try to farewell each other were the most affecting. Both utilise the considerable talents of actress Michele Amas.

Craig Beardsworth, Capital Times, 11 March 2009

But the standout is Michele Amas in the dual role of the older Esme (scatty, lovelorn for Jan) and her mother, Max’s wide, Eleanor. The anguish of the latter as she endures the physical ravages of breast cancer and the intellectual ravages of Max, is etched on Amas’ face and spills over in a hilarious foul-mouthed warning to his would-be mistress.

Guy Somerset, New Zealand Listener

Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Ted Hughes

directed by Willem Wassenaar at Circa One, May-Jun 2009

Peter Hambleton is excellent as the Bride’s blustering father while Michele Amas shows her versatility in her roles.

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times, 13 May 2009

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl

Directed By Susan Wilson at Circa One, June-July 2009

Lane’s unhappily married and isolated housewife sister Virginia, however – robustly realised by Michele Amas – has made a vocation of obsessive house-cleaning, not least to distract herself from the bizarre fantasies that flood her mind if she gives herself time to stop and think.

JS, Theatreview, 14 June 2009

Luckily for Matilde, Lane has a sister, Virginia, who is obsessive about cleaning (she sighs with pleasure on opening a cupboard full of cleaning equipment) and she secretly takes over Matilde’s duties who continues her search for that elusive funniest joke.

Susan Wilson’s light-of-touch production is Circa at its best with a … beautifully chosen cast: Michele Amas’s Virginia folding Charles’s underwear with loving strokes …

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 17 June 2009

Four Flat Whites In Italyby Roger Hall

Directed by Ross Jolly at Circa One, August-October 2009

Michelle Amas and Simon Vincent fill in the supporting characters, mainly a mix of Italians. In these roles, they are given license to display the expected clichéd stereotypes to comic effect. Perhaps this is why the most convincingly real of these characters is Michelle Amas’ English Countess, though Simon Vincent does make a disturbingly sultry waitress!

Michael Wray, Theatreview, 22 August 2009

The acting, like the characterization, is OTT. Simon Vincent and Michele Amas have a lot of fun as all-purpose Italian waiters and scene-shifters with stagey Italian accents …

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 24 August 2009

Live at Six by Dean Hewison & Leon Wadham

Directed by Conrad Newport at STAB at BATS Theatre, October 2009

Michele Amas revels in the role of TV3’s ruthless head of news, Sue Austin …

JS, Theatreview, 18 October 2009

Of the excellent cast the standouts are: Frank Edwards as an old-school broadcaster (tie and jacket) not too sure of modern technology, while Phil Grieve is the gruff boss of TV1 and Michele Amas is his heartless opposite at TV3, and Phil Vaughan provides most of the laughs as TV3’s jackass of a newsreader.

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 19 October 2009

Michele Amas nails the role of Sue Austin, the ambitious news editor who’s out for blood …

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times, 22 October 2009

Ninety by Joanna Murray-Smith

directed by Susan Wilson at Circa Two, January-February 2010

Isabel, played by Michele Amas with a contained emotional depth that keeps us guessing throughout as to exactly what she is up to, is an art restorer, working on bringing Flemish painter Jan van Eyck’s portrait of a husband and pregnant wife back to life in preparation for a private sale.

As the ex-acting teacher who has met with success in Hollywood but has yet to authentically embody himself, Andrew Foster makes splendid sense of William’s skills and shortcomings. Thankfully the symbolism of both their vocations is not over-stated.

Abetted by the deft touch of director Susan Wilson, the pair create a variously volatile, simmering and intimately tranquil chemistry that fully validates the nature of their relationship.

JS, Theatreview, 24 January 2010

Splendid performances from Michele Amas and Andrew Foster in Susan Wilson’s understated but beautifully controlled production …

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 25 January 2010

How could she have loved this guy, how could she love him still? That disbelief gives way, due largely to the compelling, emotionally truthful performance by Michele Amas.

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times, 27 january 2010

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

Directed by Susan Wilson, Original Music Composed by Gareth Farr

at Circa One, April-May 2011

The role of Barbara, the eldest daughter, is second only to Violet in its epic emotional range. Her sharp tongue laced with her father’s dry wit makes “Barb” a very apt name. Thinking she has made the break – to academic and married life in Boulder, Colorado – the avalanche that brings her crashing down has already started, before she returns, with her husband’s infidelity. That combined with her stoner daughter’s teenage hormones, the recurring nightmare of her mother’s drug addiction and now her father’s disappearance make this the most challenging phase of her life, and Michele Amas meets the challenge brilliantly.

JS, Theatreview, 3 April 2011

Jane Waddell as [Violet’s] sister Mattie Fay gives one of her finest performances in a long and illustrious career on stage in Wellington as does Michele Amas in her role as the eldest daughter Barbara. Totally convincing in the emotional roller coaster each goes through, they have lines of dialogue that actors would die for on stage and which they play to the hilt with power and energy.

Ewen Coleman, Dominion Post, 5 April 2011

The second two shorter acts are electrifying at times, to the point where I found myself not daring to breathe. This is especially so in the scenes where the mother Violet (Jennifer Ludlam in breathtaking form as this wrecked, manipulative woman), is challenged by her eldest daughter Barbara (a jaw-dropping pitch perfect performance by Michele Amas).

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times, 6 April 2011

McKenzie Country by Hannah McKie

directed by Rachel Henry at Bats Theatre, June 2011

The play takes its name from the McKenzie family at its heart (no geographic connection), comprising a single mother with six children, four of them at home, the father having died in a car crash some years earlier …

This complicated brood are all under the thumb of matriarch Margaret McKenzie (a superb performance from Michele Amas), who struggles to keep her family in line with a sharp tongue and tough love attitude.

Hannah Smith, Theatreview, 15 June 2011

The Truth Game by Simon Cunliffe

directed by Lara Macgregor at Fortune Theatre, Dunedin, October 2011

A new play needs an experienced cast to flesh it out, and the Fortune has chosen well. The play opens with a dynamic address by scintillating motivational speaker Belinda Barnes, played with superb conviction by Michele Amas. Ah, Dunedin! Michael [de Hamel, editor-in-chief of both the Akaroa Mail and the Kaiapoi Advocate] reminds me he was the first professionally to photograph Amas, here in my own production of The Taming of the Shrew.

While not exactly a shrew, Belinda, who is about to join the Advocate, is an unsympathetic character; a man’s idea of a tough, ball-breaking businesswoman. Amas, however, gives her depth, creating a multi-faceted character who is far more than the conventional, conscienceless marketing executive. Intimidating but credibly right for her job, she sees through old-fashioned crusading journalist Frank Stone. The scene in which Amas delivers his birthday cake is brilliantly realised.

Terry MacTavish, Theatreview, 9 October 2011

Belinda (Michelle Amas) seems almost a caricature, but in a positive way, because her function is to personify the intellectual and moral deficiencies of some media capitalism.

Barbara Frame, Otago Daily Times, 10 October 2011

Peninsula by Gary Henderson

directed by Jane Waddell at Circa One, February-March 2012

Four of the five the actors step instantaneously from child to adult then back again with absolute conviction, adding or subtracting nothing to or from their costumes; they simply inhabit each role and we in the audience have no trouble following the seamless flow …

Michele Amas’s know-it-all Lynette, whose family is the first to get a TV, is profoundly contrasted with Michael’s mother Valerie, who visits every high and low-tide tributary of motherhood and wifedom while the river of self flows by.

JS, Theatreview, 26 February 2012

Live At Six by Dean Hewison & Leon Wadham

Directed by Conrad Newport at Downstage Theatre, Wellington, 2012

Over at TV3, Michelle Amas reprises her formidable turn as the ruthless news producer Sue Austin, while Tim Spite brings entertaining detail to the rather creepy news anchor Gordon Millar (played by Phil Vaughan in 2009).

JS, Theatreview, 14 April 2012

Calendar Girls by Tim Firth

directed by Shane Anthony at Fortune Theatre, November-December 2012

Most poignant of all is Michele Amas as the newly widowed Annie. She is so touching and true in her interpretation of a woman bravely concealing her own pain, to give smiling support to her dying husband, that almost palpable waves of sympathy emanate from the audience. My friend wants to hug her.

Terry MacTavish, 12 November 2012

Peninsula by Gary Henderson

directed by Paul McLaughlin at Centrepoint, Palmerston North, July-August 2013

As Michael and Ngaire’s dad Jack, [Phil Vaughan]’s a straightforward ordinary joker, of his time. Which means that – even when reminded of it – he simply doesn’t notice the daily drudgery he leaves to his wife Val, played by Michele Amas as a decent woman who worries about things, and would like wider scope. She’s also good keen school-girl Lynette.

John C Ross, Theatreview, 22 Jul 2013

Throughout, the transitions are faultless. The characters that the team of actors Phil Vaughan, Michelle Amas, Laura Hill, Stephen Papps and [Jason] Whyte create are perfectly pitched, thoroughly believable and singularly memorable.

Richard Mays, Manawatu Standard/Tribune, 24 July 2013

Watch by Uther Dean

Directed by Uther Dean & Meg Rollandi, STAB at BATS November-December 2014

Back-stories to do with the women’s parents emerge – and it has to be noted here that on this … night a pre-recorded Skype session between Grace and her seriously unwell mother, Ruth (Michele Amas), disappeared from the pre-set and didn’t screen. Such are the perils of a technology-reliant production, although technology has also allowed Uther to email the YouTube clip to the critics so we, at least, can see what we’ve missed.

JS, Theatreview, 22 Nov 2014


Adapted & Directed by Jane Waddell at Circa One, February-March 2016

To begin at the end, I find myself unaccountably moved by this play and production; I’m surprise to find myself unable to speak without choking up. Something has worked at a deep level and although I still don’t know whether it’s personal or universal, it would be remiss not to mention this. …

If Honora’s condition has sapped her of emotion, Michelle Amas’s doll-clutching Doris has the opposite affliction with her tendency to well up at the slightest slight: a beautifully pitched performance. Her rest-home caregiver, Audrey, is wonderfully astute in handling tricky situations, and newcomer Olga is brief but emphatic.

JS, Theatreview, 28 Feb 2016

Joyful and Triumphant an incidental epic by Robert Lord

directed by Susan Wilson at Circa One, April-May 2016

All seven actors come to inhabit their roles and wear their aging with such conviction it would be all too easy to take them for granted. …

Michele Amas’s unmarried Librarian daughter, Rose, whose fiancé didn’t return from the war, becomes more and more poignant as the years roll by and her entrenchment in the thankless role of caregiver deepens. The changing attitudes to her highly successful Percy Piwaka children’s stories offer an especially insightful – and therefore amusing – commentary on our cultural perceptions, values and neuroses. …

Footnote: In the original production Jane Waddell played Rose, Catherine Downes played Brenda and Michele Amas played Raewyn. All were memorable then and it is a mark of their talents that they claim these new roles with equal conviction.

JS, Theatreview, 3 April 2016



Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Michele Amas

directed by Jane Waddell (with KidzStuff Theatre for Children) at 4 Moncrieff St., Mt. Victoria, Wellington, June-July 2012

Just when it seems clear this entertainment would bear no resemblance to the age-old tale (yes, bare-faced bear puns abound), the classic lines in their repetitive pattern play out. Meanwhile a highly accessible story has unfolded.

In Michele Amas’s version, the Bear family has entered the ‘What Bears Have Talent?’ quest and Goldilocks invades their space by trying to enter as well. She is the unpopular new girl at the same school Baby Bear goes to.

Although she does get lost and break into their house, devour the “just right” bowl of Mother Bear’s delicious porridge and topple a chair before falling asleep in Baby Bear’s bed (“You have some explaining to do, young man!”), it all works out well in the end with many more life lessons packed into it than the original has.

JS, Theatreview, 30 June 2012

… Unfortunately, one of the contestants, a young girl called Goldilocks, is not eligible to enter because she isn’t a bear. Even disguising herself as Goldibear doesn’t help and so she is banished from the contest and wanders through the forest until she comes across an empty house with amongst other things, three chairs, three bowls of porridge and three beds.

This clever and innovative way of beginning Goldilocks and the Three Bears based on our current penchant for reality shows is the work of writer Michele Amas who breathes much needed life into the age old story of Goldilocks and her encounter with the three bears.

Ewen Coleman, Dominion Post, 4 July 2012

Mother Goose: The Pantomime by Michele Amas

Songs by Paul Jenden & Gareth Farr

Directed by Susan Wilson at Circa One, November-December 2013

Mother Goose is a bit of a watershed for Circa pantos. Instead of Roger Hall, Michele Amas has stepped up with a fresh new style … The plot, humour and characters are sharper, funnier and more original than in the past … We laugh ourselves silly and there are plenty of audience participation moments …

Redemption, comeuppance and cleverness rewarded are essential for the moral satisfaction of both kids and adults alike, as are the two levels of humour: one for the kids and one that flies over their heads for the benefit of the adults. Amas has truly honoured all of these elements. Her script allows characters to get into peril, her villains to be truly villainous, her heroes to be heroic. And the adult humour is more pointed than ever – so much so I doubt any of the children would have a clue what the adults are laughing at. I hope not anyway!

Maryanne Cathro, Theatreview, 17 November 2013

It is certainly the most consistently funny panto I have seen in a long time. It is taken at lightning speed that rarely lets up and it reaches a climax in the second half that is worthy of the Marx Brothers as a villainous Russian count, who knows a thing or two about Faberge eggs, gets his comeuppance in a rugby game which seems to be refereed by Carmen Miranda (Google if you’re under 40) while the audience does a Mexican wave.

What’s more it’s a traditional panto … There is plenty of trad audience participation and a non-stop stream of topical and corny jokes. And hidden among them (you have to be quick) are some very risqué ones but they will sail safely over the heads of the young.

Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post, 18 November 2013

The Pink Hammer by Michele Amas

Directed by Conrad Newport at Centrepoint, Palmerston North, November-December 2014

“I am woman! Hear me snore!” Good line, eh? How lovable is raucous snoring? Here are three thoughts this play prompts. Feminist gender solidarity may be all very well, yet some women – not the four onstage, but a couple offstage, for example – can be more rapacious, vicious, and generally bastardly than some men. Assuming other individuals don’t have hard stuff to deal with may depend on your not yet knowing enough about them. Shit does happen, sometimes, and you just have to make the least worst of things.

Clearly, then, this is not entirely straightforward feel-good comedy, although it does offer quite a lot of good laughs, grins and smiles. It does get fairly dark, especially later on, and this production does justice to both sides.

Its opening premise is that Woody’s wife Maggie – who is, like him, a builder – has organised a woodworking course, advertised as the ‘Pink Hammer’ course, and four women have paid the fee and turn up to take it. This is a little awkward. It’s scheduled to take place in Woody’s shed, which is exclusively his shed, not hers at all; his man-cave, set up as entirely his own turf. He turns up knowing nothing whatsoever about this. Maggie herself is nowhere to be seen.

Woody’s first response, naturally, is to be hugely grumpy and rude, and to try to throw them out. But they want to get what they’ve come for, and paid for, and he’s out-numbered, and before long they manage to cajole, wheedle and blackmail him into agreeing to teach them basic skills. They even get to use some of his power-tools. So far, quite humorous.

They are strongly contrasted women and have widely differing ideas as to what they hope to be able to do. … Despite a tendency early on to farcical heightening of characterisation and situation, the characters are developed in some depth. All the dialogue rings true.

John C Ross, Theatreview, 3 Nov 2014

The Pink Hammer by Michele Amas

Directed by Janice Finn at The Pumphouse, Takapuna, October 2016

[Last] night I saw Michele Amas’ fine piece, The Pink Hammer, at The Pumphouse. This is about a group of women who meet weekly for carpentry lessons … And a damn good play it is, too. Very funny. … [If] you can get to Takapuna, go and see it.

Roger Hall, 14 October 2016

(in a Theatreview comment stream concerning his play Last Legs at Circa)

… So, we have a bicycle-riding Irish expat, a Coatesville horse-breeder, a hormonally challenged nurse, and a social worker with more than a tendency to analyse and control – brought together by the Pink Hammer carpentry course. Ah, and Woody … According to Annabel, he’s intimidated, threatened; in Helen’s opinion, he’s as jumpy as a horse before gelding.

The characters are well defined from the outset and each actor does an admirable job of portraying them throughout. That’s to be expected with such a stellar cast, all of them superbly talented and experienced … To that you can add the expertise of playwright Michele Amas.

Bronwyn Elsmore, Theatreview, 15 Oct 2016

An explosive collision between old school carpentry and contemporary sexual politics sends sparks flying in Tadpole Productions’ rollicking comedy of manners, The Pink Hammer.

Playwright Michele Amas cleverly engineers a scenario that has an authentic kiwi bloke blackmailed into providing carpentry lessons for a lively quartet of women who are more interested in socialising than acquiring DIY skills.

The chippie, who has managed to remain oblivious to the decades of feminist advancement, finds the sanctuary of his shed turned upside down as the women casually deposit their emotional baggage all over his meticulously ordered work benches.

Director Janice Finn has assembled a dream cast who seize the comic opportunities in a script that makes good use of the abundant sexual innuendo lurking within the terminology of the building trade …

In the second half, the comedy gives way to a serious meditation on mortality and friendship expressed through elaborate backstories … With a tangle of plot twists confounding expectations, some momentum is lost but the comedy triumphantly reasserts itself …

Paul Simei-Barton, New Zealand Herald, 17 October 2016

Wellingtonian poet and actress Michele Amas dies, aged 55

roger hall             posted 2 Jan 2017, 11:28 AM

A fine tribute for Michelle.

A further tribute would be for Circa to present her The Pink Hammer which so far they have inexplicably failed to do.

And I’d like to suggest to amateur groups throughout the country that they consider it  4f 1m, one set. All good parts, very funny but with serious content.  (Maybe one problem is that, as far as I can tell, Michelle was not a client of Playmarket…so where do people go to get a copy of the script?

Editor    posted 2 Jan 2017, 04:48 PM / edited 2 Jan 2017, 04:49 PM

May I suggest anyone wanting a script of THE PINK HAMMER should contact Playmarket asking them to contact Michele’s husband, Ken Duncum.

info@playmarket.org.nz <info@playmarket.org.nz>;

clientpromotion@playmarket.org.nz <clientpromotion@playmarket.org.nz>;

Editor    posted 10 Jan 2017, 10:33 PM

We are now advised that Playmarket does represent the plays written by Michelle Amas.

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