Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

16/11/2019 - 22/12/2019

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

02/01/2020 - 11/01/2020

Production Details

Created by Simon Leary and Gavin Rutherford

Curiouser and Curiouser

It’s Panto time again at Circa!

Join Alice and our favourite Dame in a madcap adventure down the rabbit hole. Why is Wellington in peril? Is it because the Queen of Hearts is threatening to unleash the jabberwock?

And what about those magical tasty tarts?

Alice, the White Rabbit and Dame Majori are joining with the Mad Hatter and friends in a crazy adventure of ups and downs and Pantomime fun. Will Alice rescue her frantic furry friend?


Will our Dame find happiness, fame and fortune?

Meet these iconic characters as they sing and dance their way through this madcap, wacky tale cleverly set in the present-day capital, Wellington.

A stunning cast, Natasha McAllister, Simon Leary, Jonathan Morgan, Sarah Lineham, Susie Berry, Andrew Paterson together with all-time favourite Gavin Rutherford as the Dame will provide children and adults alike with a night of great entertainment.

There will be lots of opportunity to cheer the ‘goodies’ along the way and make sure they know when danger approaches … the jabberwock!

Director, Susan Wilson and Musical Director, Michael Nicholas Williams combine forces once again and Choreographer Leigh Evans completes this outstanding team. With plenty of topical jokes and toe-tapping tunes, Circa is delighted to bring you this year’s Panto. 

Hurry! Hurry! Don’t be late! Make sure you are booked for this very important date!

Our audiences say: 

“Fun, witty, intelligent, something for all ages, we all came out trying to remember the best jokes – we were aged from 8 to 72”

“This is the first panto I’ve ever seen why have I wasted all these years!”

“I loved the show so much I went twice and took more family members and  told everyone I know how wonderful, entertaining, professional and funny it was”

CIRCA THEATRE, 1 Taranaki Street Wellington
16 Nov – 22 Dec 2019 & 2-11 Jan 2020
Tues To Sat 6.30, Sun 4pm
Extra Matinees Sat 7, 14, 21 Dec at 2pm
$18 – $52
Bookings: 1 Taranaki Street Wellington
04 801 7992  

Panto Family Pass:
Pop four “Panto Family Pass” seats in your cart and get two adult and two child tickets for $122 (one child free!) Only available in groups of four.


Alice is There – The Fourmyula
Something in the Water – Brooke Fraser
Nobody Else – Rikki Morris
Fade Away – Che Fu
Out on the Street – Space Waltz
Renegade Fighter – Zed
Nature – The Fourmyula
Bliss – Th’ Dudes
Maybe – Opshop
Love, Love, Love – Avalanche City
Tears – The Crocodiles
Dirty Creature – Split Enz
I’ll Say Goodbye – The Dance Exponents

Gavin Rutherford:  Dame Majori 
Natasha McAllister:  Alice
Sarah Lineham:  White Rabbit/Caterpillar
Andrew Paterson:  Tweedle Dum
Susie Berry:  Tweedle Dee, Voice of Cheshire cat
Jonathan Morgan:  The Queen of Hearts: 
Simon Leary: Mad Hatter  

Set Designer – Lucas Neal
Costumes – Sheila Horton
Lighting Designer – Marcus McShane
Sound Operation – Paul Lawrence  

Theatre , Family , Pantomime ,

1hr 45mins incl. interval

Great panto fun for all the family

Review by Sharron Pardoe 18th Nov 2019

Enter the pantomime world of Simon Leary and Gavin Rutherford – two talented artists who as well as writing this decidedly Wellington take on a classic, also act, sing and dance in it.

From the moment the panto opened until the finale, my face was split with an ear-to-ear grin. Rutherford as Dame Majori set the scene for the night with the first Wellington clanger – arriving on a pink scooter and saying it could be chucked in the harbour “along with the rest of them”. [More


Make a comment

Memorable fun for all

Review by John Smythe 17th Nov 2019

What a gift to have Wellington band The Fourmyula’s 1968 hit ‘Alice is There’ on the record (so to speak) to kick off ALICE IN WONDERLAND The Pantomime – sung live, of course, by the super-talented cast to Michael Nicholas Williams’ one-man-band. And Williams cleverly sneaks in a few bars of his very own ‘It’s the Pantomime Whirl’ to really get us in the mood.  

The song list of 13 Kiwi (mostly) classics is a big plus in this Wellington-to-Wonderland-and-back-again adventure, written by Simon Leary and Gavin Rutherford. Newcomers to play writing, they are nevertheless pantomime acting stalwarts – Rutherford especially, whose Dame marks a decade in the role of “poor lonely widow woman”. And this is Susan Wilson’s 15th panto in a row since she, playwright Roger Hall and musical director Williams revived the tradition in Wellington with Cinderella in 2005.

Despite the many liberties they take as writers, to make it local and topical, Leary and Rutherford do stay true to the key characters, plot elements and dialogue tropes created in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. They also pluck Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee and the Jabberwock from its sequel, Through the Looking Glass. I am therefore disturbed to see no mention whatever of Lewis Carroll (pen-name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) in the programme or media release.

Set designer Lucas Neal uses playing cards as the rather flat scenic context for both locations. Given Wonderland is described as an upside down version of Wellington, I’d have thought starting with city buildings and flipping them into playing cards would have been a simple option. As for the ‘rabbit hole’, making it a square gap on a low rostrum allows for little illusion when people drop through it.

It’s Sheila Horton’s superb costume designs that contrast the classic blacks of Wellington with the riotous colours of Wonderland – abetted by Marcus McShane’s lighting design, operated by Deb McGuire with Paul Lawrence on sound and stalwart stage manager Eric Gardiner wrangling the Jabberwock among his other clandestine duties.  

Rutherford’s engagingly chatty Dame Majori Banks Street has lost her husband Kent Terrace to the tarty Courtenay Place and befriended her neighbour Alice (a splendidly focused Natasha McAllister), who is studying Maths and History. Her being the niece of Peter Jackson is of special interest to Majori, who sees herself as an actor, singer and hand model. A potential day of fun with her other friend, White Rabbit (a sprightly Sarah Lineham in fine voice), proves too tempting for Alice, however …

Despite White Rabbit’s being forgetful, late for a very important date, and delivering constant warnings to “beware the Jabberwock”, it does emerge that getting to the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with a box of tarts she knavishly found all on a summers day, is extremely important because the once-benign Queen of Hearts (Jonathan Morgan, in more than one excellent voice) has become evil.

Tweedle Dum (Andrew Paterson) and Tweedle Dee (Susie Berry) bumble about and sing beautifully together. But being in the employ of the volatile Queen and wanting to keep their heads, they blindly obey her orders – and get little sympathy when they offer that as an excuse.  

The eccentric Mad Hatter and the somnambulant Dormouse, unaccountably named David Duchovny (am I missing something?) are brought to contrasting life by Simon Leary, in excellent form. No panto is complete without a love interest for the Dame and the Mad Hatter fulfils this role – or does he? Suffice to say there’s a good twist in that part of the tale.

Sarah Lineham doubles as the Caterpillar. And for most of the show the Queen’s pet Jabberwock is fearsomely heard but not seen, being kept at the end of a long leash – until it’s not.

Throughout the show everyone delivers the topical and sometimes retro humour with a light touch. Some of the gags that don’t land on opening night (e.g. references to Spike Hosking and Grant Hobbitson) may hit the mark with other audiences – or not – but most of the time it’s very well judged and paced.  

The ‘eat to grow big’ and ‘drink to shrink’ tropes come in to play with puppet Tweedles Dum and Dee helping to make Alice seem big and AV projection showing us what a river she’s crying. The Cheshire Cat (voiced by Berry) is also a cleverly utilised series of projections.

Dum and Dee crash the Mad Hatter’s tea party disguised as the Mock Turtle and Walrus, a rousing rendition of Th’ Dudes ‘Bliss’ ramps up the party mood – and the White Rabbit finally makes it to this very important date – with the tarts. But when the White Rabbit is arrested for stealing them, they’ve disappeared – and we know where if we’ve been paying attention. So we go into interval knowing an injustice has been done and must be corrected.

Bringing the Queen back to her kind and caring self for the wellbeing of the White Rabbit, indeed of everyone, becomes the essential quest. And this is where the kids get to come on stage and make a difference by holding up the Cheshire Cat faces (on the back of the programme) and joining in the chorus of ‘Love, Love, Love’ (Avalanche City). It must be noted here that Rutherford’s Dame has a wonderful way with the more tentative children.

When the strategy works, Dame Majori observes this could be the shortest second act on pantomime history, but fear not, just one roar from the Jabberwock sees her revert. The Flamingo she’s been playing croquet with on the parliamentary lawn turns out to be an e-scooter. She’s only liberal with her mallet-like gavel when presiding over the trial of the White Rabbit and channels the recent speaker of the British House of Commons in calling for Order. Alice’s stepping up as counsel for the defence to ensure a fair trial threatens to backfire until the tarts’ special properties are revealed …   

Political satire is fairly low key. There’s a hint that the cards are a wall to keep outsiders out, built by order of the Queen. We are asked to consider the possibility of no longer judging ourselves and others by what we/they look like but on what we value. And once or twice the Jabberwock’s role in turning the Queen bad seems to refer to our current government but that’s only made specific at the end when the now-tamed beast is named (guess who).

The Dance Exponents’ ‘I’ll Say Goodbye’ brings it all to a satisfying conclusion – and speaking of dance, Leigh Evans has done a fine job of the musical staging. Once more Susan Wilson’s astutely assembled cast combine with maestro Michael Nicholas Williams to ensure Circa’s annual panto will be memorable fun for all. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council