A LION IN THE MEADOW and Other Stories

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

24/09/2016 - 08/10/2016

Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton

28/10/2016 - 29/10/2016

Production Details

“Mother, there is a big, roaring, yellow, whiskery lion in the meadow!”  

Join in the fun as some of Margaret Mahy’s best-loved stories are woven together into one enjoyable and imaginative show. Magical Mahy comes to life on stage.

Featuring Mahy’s stories A Lion in the Meadow, Leaf Magic and The Witch in the Cherry Tree, along with her poems, Magic and The Reluctant Hero, or Barefoot in the Snow adapted by Tim Bray, songs by Christine White.

Photo from A Lion in the Meadow and Othe Stories 2011 production 
by David Rowland / One-Image.com 

“Mahy and Bray, then, are already quite a formidable duo and rightly so, as Mahy writes wonderfully performable stories and Bray has a feel for the magic of childhood and a gift for theatrical creation that can only exist in a man who has never truly grown up … and bless him for that! Tim Bray Productions latest excursion into theatrical – and Mahy – magic is The Lion in the Meadow and Other Stories and it is immensely satisfying.In all, a delightful hour spent enjoying Mahy, Bray, The Pumphouse, some extremely charming performances, a bevy of clever effects and a bunch of spirited kids. There’s no doubt magic won the day but with this team working together this was hardly ever in doubt. After all, where would we be if there was no magic in the world” Lexie Matheson Review, Theatreview (2011 production)

TERM TIME SEASON: 19 – 23 September
10.30 am / 1 pm daily (shows approx. 1 hour long)
Public also welcome.
Generous discounts and benefits for groups – click here.

SCHOOL HOLIDAY SEASON: 24 September – 8 October
10.30 am / 2 pm daily
(no shows on Sundays)
– Early Bird discount days – 24 and 26 September – all tickets just $19.50 each
phone 09 489 8360 or order online now

We are also excited to announce that, with the support of Creative New Zealand and Foundation North, our production of ALionandaMeadowandOtherStorieswill be travelling to Northland, and Tauranga and Hamilton in October. To find out more about the tour, please click here.

Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton
Fri 28 October at 10.30am and 1pm
Saturday  Sat 29 October at 10.30am and 1pm
Ticket price range: $12 – $20 (plus relevant booking fees)
To book your individual public tickets, please click here.  

Costume Parades (School Holiday season only): Children – have some fun and come dressed as your favourite Margaret Mahy character – a lion, a witch, a boy with two shadows, Farmer McPhee …

NB: All children require a ticket as part of The PumpHouse Theatre ticketing policy. Only babies in arms can be granted free entry.

Audio Described Performances and NZ Sign Language interpreted shows available – session times TBC – see website for updates.  

David:  Maxwell Apse
Mum:  Elizabeth Tierney
Witch:  Lori Dungey
Lion:  Adam Burrell
Fish and Chips:  Lori Dungey
Tula:  Herself
Musician:  Nick Garrett  
New Zealand Sign Language Interpreters (selected shows): Melissa-Sue Sutton; Kevin Keys

Director:  Tim Bray
Set Design:  Rachael Walker
Lighting Design:  Steve Marshall
Costume Design:  Vicki Slow
Stage Manager:  Jordan Keyzer
Lighting & Sound Operator:  Josh Wilson
Leaf Magic:  Adam Burrell, Jordan Keyzer
Choreographer & Movement Coach:  Linda McFetridge
Lion Makeup Design& Training:  Natasya Yusoff
Magic Consultant:  Wayne Rogers
Set Construction:  Grant Reynolds 
Props:  Rachael Walker
Yoga Tutor:  Natasya Yusoff
Vocal Coach:  Sylvia Rands
Lighting Crew:  HLx Limited
Ushers:  Tanya Davis, Chantal Buiting, Rebecca Lynch
Teachers’ Resource Guide:  Rosemary Tisdall 
Publicity:  Sally Woodfield, SWPR
Print Design:  Stefania Sarnecki-Capper, Red Design
Photography:  David Rowland, One-Image Photography
Videography:  Chillbox Creative
‘Lion’ at Storylines Festival:  James Kupa
Illustration:  Jenny Williams   

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

1 hr

A quality theatrical experience

Review by Gail Pittaway 29th Oct 2016

Lucky children in the upper North Island are being treated this month to the double whammy of Margaret Mahy stories and poems being performed with magic, music and grace, with some great visual effects, by Tim Bray Productions, who are also celebrating 25 years of performance as a company.  

This production links three Mahy stories and two or three poems through the characters of David and his mother, from The Witch in the Cherry Tree. All the action takes place in the same beautiful set – a tree, a plot of garden and a table and chairs – all transformed, with a bit of lighting magic and imagination for each portion of the play.

The performance opens with a strong performance from Maxwell Apse as young David, singing a charming setting of the poem ‘Magic’, and leads naturally into The Witch in the Cherry Tree in which David and his mother make cakes, which a passing witch tries to steal. Elizabeth Tierney as Mum has a light touch and a good line in good-humoured common sense.

The story kicks off when Lori Dungey’s Witch drops by, stealing the show, in her attempts to steal the cakes. Despite her witchy cape, hat and broomstick, this witch is more a bag lady than a crone and her endearing lust for the sweet treats is given full voice in a great solo. Some great comedy tussles between David and the witch ensue, even funnier when Mum gets in on the act and is almost persuaded to have her cakes tasted by an ‘expert’ out of a desire to win a new magic egg beater.

But David knows that if you allow a witch to come inside you’ll never get rid of her, so he valiantly tries to protect his house from an invasion. With the additions of Christine Whites’ lovely songs and Nick Garrett’s great musicianship in creating incidental music and sound effects, this is a superb version which enhances Mahy’s clever story with energy and fun.

Bray as director has adapted these separate pieces of writing into one whole production and it all holds together remarkably well.  Teirney and Apse go on to perform an up-beat song version of the poem ‘Footprints in the Snow’ and segue naturally into the story of A Lion in the Meadow which features a creature to rival the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz or any of the cast of Cats. Adam Burrell’s lion is a delight and, as with the witch, both Mahy and Bray work at making these alarming creatures quirky, fun and eccentric rather than terrifying, especially for the young audiences.  

The story Leaf Magic really has some leaf magic effects and ends with a charming transforming trick that cannot possibly be revealed, although there is a long section of leaf dancing and play which seems to be lacking in pace, just before this story unfolds, and children and adults in the audience begin to get restless.

In all this is a delightful show bringing audiences a quality theatrical experience from the genius of Mahy.

Tim Bray Productions are also to be commended for their Charity Seats Programme which invites patrons to sponsor theatre tickets to provide seats for disadvantaged or disabled children to enjoy the delights they have created. What a great idea.  


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Childhood: a time when anything’s possible

Review by Kathleen Mantel 25th Sep 2016

Kids love TV. They just do. They love moving images and sound. They love iPads, cellphones and technology. The films they watch are becoming more and more realistic. In some ways I think that rather than enhancing their imagination, it’s restricting it.

Theatre, a play, requires imagination, active participation not just passive consumption. It’s something else, it’s not life, it’s not a film with special effects. It is a story, it requires minds to engage, imaginations to participate in the story. It’s something very different for a kid to experience. 

A Lion in the Meadow and other stories is a musical production by Tim Bray productions. This year Tim Bray celebrates 25 years of putting on plays and musicals for children. The production combines three of Margaret Mahy’s best loved stories: ‘The Witch in the Cherry Tree’, the top-billing ‘A Lion in the Meadow’ and the magical ‘Leaf Magic’. 

‘The Witch in the Cherry Tree’ is a story about a boy and his mother baking on a wet afternoon. ‘A Lion in the Meadow’ is a tale about a boy called David who believes there is a lion in his back garden, and ‘Leaf Magic’ is a story about a boy who wishes he has a dog. 

Maxwell Apse plays a wide eyed David in all three plays. He embodies the role with the sense of wonder and the playful cheekiness of an inquisitive child.  

Lori Dungey’s Witch makes a great entrance by hilariously crashing her broomstick into David’s garden. Dungey and her wibble-wobbly jaw is hugely expressive as a quintessential witch all children will recognise. Her high jinks with David are wickedly funny.

Dungey is a great slapstick actor which becomes more evident in her embodiment of Fish N Chips, a drunken sailor who is a cross between The Top Twins Ken and my great uncle Jono after a few drams.

Adults don’t always see what children see. There is a sadness, a sense of loss that comes through in the play. David’s Mother (Elizabeth Tierney) is lovely and caring but she has lost the window into a child’s world. Only children have that. Their imaginations are endless.

After the play I ask my daughter if David’s mother could see the Lion. 
“No” she replied.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because she doesn’t have an imagination so she can’t see,” she replied matter of factly.

Nick Garret’s simple and evocative live music is beautiful. It brings about a sense of nostalgia and melancholy and it knits the 3 stories together seamlessly.

It is always something special going to a kids play. Kids react with total honestly when they forget to be on their ‘best behaviour’. It’s a full body experience from smelly feet perched on the back of your chair, kids murmuring – then shouting when there’s no reaction – “He’s behind you, no down low, look out!”  Watching a play with a kid you feel their wonderment, you can see it on their faces. 

The set of flowers and fallen autumn leaves is simple, thematic, and functional for all three stories. The Cherry tree blooms in spring, autumn leaves fell, sunshine, rain thunder and lightning occur; the change of the seasons, time passing, childhood passing. There is a sense of how delicate and fleeting childhood is, how precious, and how magical. 

My 7-year-old daughter Alea read ‘A Lion in the Meadow’ when she was 5 and for about a year she was scared to go outside into the garden because there was a lion in the meadow. It was a friendly lion. But that didn’t matter.

When the tail of the Lion (Adam Burrell) flicks out onto the stage, you hear a collective intake of breath and the whispers start like a wildfire. Childhood is a time when anything’s possible. Lions might be in the meadow. “Adults know there are no Lions in New Zealand,” says Alea. “But kids don’t.”

There just isn’t enough live theatre for kids and it is great to see children from all backgrounds taking in the show. Tim Bray’s shows are accessible for the deaf and blind community too. This production is a treat for the children who attend, and a reminder for their adult companions: the magic of childhood is fleeting.

More from Alea (7):  
“‘A Lion in the Meadow’ was a very good play. The thing I really liked about it is that at the end a cute little dog with only one leg comes out of a box. Do you know how the boy got the dog? Well the boy wished that he had a dog. And he hated the leaf that was always flying around the garden and annoying him. He went to go to get his friend Fish and Chips. Because he knew that Fish and Chips would help him. The boy was right. Fish and Chips did help by caching the leaf. In a few days the boy wanted the leaf back. So Fish and Chips gave him back the leaf. It was a dog now. I would rate ‘A Lion in the Meadow’ 9 out of 10.”

A Lion in the Meadow and other stories will be travelling to Northland, and Tauranga and Hamilton in October. [To find out more about the tour, please click here.]


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