Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

21/12/2017 - 23/12/2017

Production Details

Wanaka gets its own pantomime 

(Oh no it doesn’t … oh yes it does!) 

Cindy and the Villanelles, a two-act ‘panto’ based on the story of Cinderella, but with local and topical twists.

For those unfamiliar with the genre of pantomime, there is much to discover and love in this form of theatre. Based on the harlequins of old, you’ll find cheesy jokes, a villain to ‘boo’ at and fun for all the family. Two things to look out for in every good panto: the chase scene where the audience yell out at the villain “look behind you,” and the good-natured banter that goes on between members of the cast, of “oh no you can’t” and “oh yes he can.”

The local all-star cast includes recent school-leaver Ella Moore as Cindy and Kim Nichol, Gabriel Schwarz and Merle Schlüter as the Villanelles, assistants to the villainous property developer played by Richard Elvey. Rich is also producing the play, which is being directed by Gilly Pugh from a script by Liz Breslin. “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it,” says Gilly, which may or may not be a nod to just how many song lyrics are embedded in the script.

The team are looking forward to bringing laughs and Christmas cheer to
the Lake Wanaka Centre,
from the 21st-23rd December at 7pm,
with a 2pm matinee on the 23rd.
Tickets, at $19 for adults and $9 children, are available from Eventfinda.
Door sales will be available on the day at $20/$10. The Facebook page for the event is Wanaka Pantomimers, which will keep you updated with who’s playing who in the cast and general pantomime goings on.

(Please note that there won’t be a bar but there will be plenty of Black Peak Gelato icecream to purchase.)

Theatre , Pantomime ,

Ticks all the panto boxes

Review by Sue Wards 22nd Dec 2017

Hawea playwright Liz Breslin, after telling a cynical Canadian friend she was writing a Christmas pantomime, was challenged to include the line, “We reject your heteronormative realities.”  

She not only manages that with ease, she has written a pantomime which challenges the heteronormative narrative of most fairy tales, sprinkled lightly with pink roses, kale lollies, a mischief of rats and some dancing sugar plum recycling fairies. 

Cindy and the Villanelles, a two-act panto based on Cinderella (directed by pun-loving Gilly Pugh), ticks all the panto boxes: over-the-top costumes, singing and dancing, cross-dressing dames (the dangerously buxom local GP Simon Brebner), audience interaction, local themes and endless jokes of mixed quality. The Lake Wanaka Centre rings with hisses and boos, gales and groans of laughter on opening night. 

As well as impressively adept larger-than-life performances (fairy godmother Samantha Stout, Richard Elvey as an evil property developer with a name strangely familiar to locals, the day-dreamy prince Stefan Schwarz, and the charming Hugo Ayre), Wanaka’s local talent is also on show in strong but subtler performances, such as Ella Moore’s Cindy. 

Background colour includes a cameo appearance by a Wanaka celebrity chef who wanders into the wrong stage kitchen to prepare his rhubarb and custard gnocchi, and Wanaka’s answer to a young Roy Orbison. 

Sometimes dubbed Little Britain, Wanaka is a great place to revive the UK’s Christmas pantomime tradition. Breslin, Pugh and producer Richard Elvey bring Cindy and the Villanelles to the stage with the support of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Creative New Zealand CCS scheme and the Upper Clutha Community Arts Council.

“It’s the best pantomime I’ve ever seen,” says one British expat after the show, “and I’ve seen loads.” 


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