Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

06/07/2012 - 21/07/2012

Production Details

Next Big Thing Festival supports budding actors, designers and crew to strut their stuff on and off stage.

Auckland Theatre Company proudly presents the première of CHECKOUT CHICKS – THE MUSICAL, a wickedly funny new work by Rachel Callinan and Julia Truscott, which opens on Friday 6 July, at The Basement, as part of the Next Big Thing Festival, a two-week season of the best of local and international work for young audiences.

Global versus local in this hilarious new kiwi musical, set in a supermarket.

Elizabeth aka Tashandra lives a dangerous double life. Tashandra is a loved and respected checkout operator at Shop’ n’ Pay; Elizabeth studies law and is set to make mega bucks in corporate land. It is only a matter of time before secrets are unveiled, shopping trolleys collide and everything comes to a head at the annual Checkout Operator of the Year competition. 

Will Elizabeth/Tashandra finally sing about who she really is? Will Shop’ n’ Pay be forced to close and make way for mega conglomerate Food Planet run by the nefarious quick stepping Peter Frackwit? 

Simon Coleman and Jason Te Mete direct an exciting young cast from The NEXT BIG THING, a year-long youth company, open to anyone 15 – 25, based at Auckland Theatre Company that provides a bridge from high school to drama school and between full-time training and the professional industry. 

“It is a hothouse for new talent: a place to develop new work and new ways of working.” Says Lynne Cardy, Auckland Theatre Company’s Associate Director.

Auckland Theatre Company presented a rehearsed reading of CHECKOUT CHICKS – THE MUSICAL, directed by Simon Coleman and Jason Te Mete, as part of the Making Scenes: Play Readings, in March 2012.

Tickets can be purchased from Auckland Theatre Company on 309 3395.

06 – 21 July, 9pm
The Basement 

Crystelle L'Amie – Diane
Hazel Tansley-Broad – Tashandra/Elizabeth
Reuben Brown – Simon Young
Darryl Wrightson – Peter Frackwitt
Leilani Dane-Elzepati – Hope
Lane Twigden – Jah
Kalyani Nagarajan – Margaret
Caleb Wells – Luke
James Collyer – Ben
Daksh Juneja – Four Square Man
Rachel Smith – Ensemble
Jo Olsen – Ensemble  

Choreography: Amanaki Prescott
Designers: Jessika Verryt, Caitlin Brogan, and Tim Williams 

Feel-good hilarity

Review by (critic uncredited) 11th Jul 2012

Checkout Chicks: The Musical, as its title suggests, is several kumara truckloads of fun. If you’ve “lost your smile”, definitely “take a trip down the aisle” at Shop N Pay at Paru Bay. A high energy 75 minutes written by Julia Truscott and Rachel Callinan, and directed by Simon Coleman, this is an undemanding piece of feel-good hilarity, featuring long onion strings of quick-fire quips set to catchy show tunes.

The dozen great comic characters (trying not to be eggs) include pensioner-age checkout chick Margaret (Kalyani Nagarajan) whose past includes “the SAS, NASA and macrame”; the all tap-dancing, sequin-wearing rival supermarket heir Peter Frackwit (Daryl Wrightson); an uptight lawyer mum (Crystelle L’Amie); and schoolboys (James Collyer and Caleb Wells) chasing an ever-elusive bottle of Scrumpy. [More


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High energy and fast pace in Kiwi comedy with catchy tunes

Review by Melisa Martin 07th Jul 2012

Last night Auckland Theatre Company’s youth initiative The Next Big Thing presented the world premiere (preview performance) of Checkout Chicks: The Musical by Rachel Callinan and Julia Truscott. 

Having been somewhat unforgiving initially, of an inexperienced cast, I was left with a dry taste in my mouth after the final number, which ended with a few off-notes and breathlessness. 

That said, I was the first to be caught singing the catchiest lines to ushers as I exited the theatre, into the foyer where hordes of young people gathered, excited, pleased and fulfilled with their evenings entertainment. 

The story centres around Elizabeth aka Tashandra (Hazel Tansley-Broad), a well-loved checkout operator at the local Shop ’n’ Pay, which is set for demolition after a few months of not being able to make the rent. 

The Checkout Operator of the Year competition is coming up though, which gives Shop ’n’ Pay one last chance to come up with the $100,000 they need to stay open; and forces Tashandra to decide once and for all between her privilege-paved life as a law student, and her life as an under-paid checkout chick.

I expected slightly more from the ATC production, after director Simon Coleman’s acclaimed production of Fitz Bunny’s Lust for Glory, (Young & Hungry 2010) voted one of The NZ Herald’s top 5 musicals that year.

However, what the show lacked in a very simple set, and what seemed like some first-timers playing up laughs to their friends and families, was made up for with remarkably high energy and fast pace. 

Rachel Callinan’s repertoire of clever dialogue and easily relatable language, coupled with Julia Truscott’s fine balance of show tunes crossed with almost every music genre you can imagine, is New Zealand comedy at its best.  

A highlight of the show is Darryl Wrightson as the formidable Peter Frackwitt, head of the supermarket opposition. Complete with tap-dancing shoes and a sparkly jacket, he often steals the show with his delightful theme and ridiculous man-purse. 

Also worth mentioning are Lane Twigden as bag boy Jah, and Crystelle L’Amie as Diane Fritata, Elizabeth’s over-bearing, single mother, who both give excellent performances and stand out as ones to keep your eye on. 

Checkout Chicks is a musical for people who wouldn’t usually enjoy a musical, and would go down a real treat as a production for high schools. 

[Note: Tusk Tusk, the other Next Big Thing show, will be reviewed tomorrow.] 


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