After the Storm

Te Auaha - Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

28/02/2024 - 02/03/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Creator & Writer: Emma Salzano
Composer, Musical Director
Director: Leigh Evans

Production: Ace Dalziel, Gabriel Bush, Aislinn Sederel

Through whirling winds and swirling ash, After the Storm is a story of love and grief through natural disaster. With an original acoustic score by Emma Salzano, prepare to be pulled at the heartstrings as a hidden tragedy in New Zealand’s own capital’s history is revealed. The cast of talented actor-musicians are the heartbeat of this moving piece, telling a tale inspired by the Italian immigrants in Island Bay. Witness the downpour of lights and the clearing of smoke to be transported into the storm that rages on.

Te Auaha – Tapere Nui
General Admission $28.00, Concession $22.00,
Fringe Addict 2024 $22.50, Ticket+5 $33.00, Ticket+10 $38.00
Tickets available on the NZ Fringe Website –

Ace Dalziel – Stage Manager, Intimacy Coach & Producer ,
Gabriel Bush – Marketing Coordinator,
Aislinn Sederel – Production Manager (volunteer),
Leigh Evans – Director,
Logan Lockyer – Lighting & Sound

Fynn Bodley-Davies – Armando,
Adriana Calabrese – Carmela,
Emma Salzano – Musetta,
Hayden Taylor – Pianist,
Rachel Mcsweeney – Luisa,
Isaac Andrews – Vincenzo,
Dom Taffs – Bartolo

Musical , Theatre ,

65 Minutes

Gorgeous melodies and top class singing convey a simple, honest love story

Review by Georgia Jamieson Emms 29th Feb 2024

It takes a lot to get this reviewer out at 9pm, but I’m so glad I did, as this is a gem of show not to be missed. Of course it will bring in the musical theatre lovers, who will appreciate the concept of a folk musical (in the tradition of Hadestown, Once, Girl from the North Country) but this time with an Italian spin rarely seen, if ever, in New Zealand.

The story is inspired by true events and stories from Italian immigrants in Island Bay in the 1930s. This is not a flashy piece, it’s a humble origin story, full of heart and soul. At its core is a simple, honest love story. We are drawn in from the very start by the vivacious performers, led by Emma Salzano who exudes energy and charisma.

Six singer-actor-musicians, beautifully anchored on the piano by Hayden Taylor, are without doubt the ‘heartbeat’ of the piece, as there is no set to speak of – just four stools transport the audience from fishermen’s boat to dance hall without fuss or confusion; director Leigh Evans allows the music and the movement of the actors to do the work, and the result is modest (like the lives of the immigrants themselves) honest and effective. Logan Lockyer’s sound and lighting was similarly simple and evocative.

The combination of instruments including guitar, mandolin, accordion, violin immediately engulf the audience into the musically rich Italian soundscape. Composer/creator Salzano – who plays multiple instruments, sings and dances as well being the narrator of the piece – is breathtaking in her versatility. She has assembled a cast that are well balanced and matched her in flair, not to mention that famous Italian passion for life. Their natural camaraderie on stage leaves one feeling great warmth towards the characters.  

The music itself is great – gorgeous melodies with the Italian flavour evident, lovely rich ensemble writing and other numbers come from the MT rulebook. Salzano has generously written to make everyone shine, in particular Adriana Calabrese, elegant and dignified as she conceals a secret grief, and Rachel McSweeney with her heartbreaking voice. The a cappella arrangement of O Sole Mio, a recurring theme in the work, is original and delicious. Traditional Italian melodies are honoured and enhanced rather than rehashed. It’s not the work of someone who is trying to be ground-breaking, edgy and clever, it’s the work of someone who is celebrating their heritage – the age-old technique of writing about what you know works for a reason.

The only criticism is occasionally the combination of English spoken with Italian accents over the instruments meant that some of the dialogue was tricky to catch. However this does not impede one’s experience or enjoyment in the slightest, nor does it detract from the excellent performances. The singing, without exception, is top class.

After the Storm makes me genuinely excited about the future of new musical theatre composition in Aotearoa.


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