The Civic – THE EDGE®, Auckland

28/04/2013 - 01/04/2013

CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch

20/04/2013 - 23/04/2013

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

09/04/2013 - 13/04/2013

Trafalgar Centre, Nelson

17/04/2013 - 17/04/2013

Production Details




COROnation Street ON STAGE! – the hysterical new stage play by award-winning playwright and Coronation Street scriptwriter Jonathan Harvey — specially commissioned by ITV to celebrate Britain’s longest-running and most-loved soap – is coming to New Zealand in March and April 2013.

COROnation Street ON STAGE! condenses the programme’s 50-year history of births, deaths, marriages and other dramatic events into one action-packed two-hour show, which won enormous critical acclaim throughout Britain.

And who better than to take us on this journey than the journeyman himself: William Roache – aka serial groom KEN BARLOW.Roache, who has been there right from the beginning and honoured by the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest-serving television actor, has been released from filming duties as a special thank you to the soap’s loyal New Zealand fans.

COROnation Street ON STAGE! follows the fortunes of two of Weatherfield’s finest families: the Barlows and the Platts, and features all your favourite characters past and present including Edna Sharples, Hilda Ogden, Hayley and Roy, Richard Hillman, Jack Duckworth, Bet Lynch, Steve, Karen, Becky and many more.

Relive your favourite moments from The Street – see Tony Gordon’s tangled web of relationships with the Connors unfold, the tram run over Alan, Richard kill Maxine and Gail marry Brian, Martin, Richard and Joe. Directed by Fiona Buffini, COROnation Street ON STAGE! features over 55 characters.


Afunny and affectionate romp through 50 dramatic years, COROnation Street ON STAGE! is written by award-winning playwright and Coronation Street scriptwriter Jonathan Harvey (Canary, Beautiful Thing, Closer to Heaven, Gimme Gimme Gimme),and directed by Fiona Buffini (The Two Gentlemen of Verona – RSC, Dinner – National Theatre and West End, The Playboy of the Western World – National Theatre and 39 Steps (West Yorkshire Playhouse and West End).



VENUE:  The Civic 
SEASON:  Thursday 28 March to Monday 1 April 2013
TIMES*:  THURS 28March, 8pm
        SAT 30 March, 2pm & 8pm
        SUN 31 March, 2pm & 7pm
        MON 1 April, 2pm and 7pm
TICKET PRICES: From $59 + booking fee
0800 BUY TICKETS or 
Group Bookings 12+ SAVE! 
Telephone Group Bookings or email

VENUE:  St James Theatre

SEASON:  Tuesday 9 April to Saturday 13 April 2013

        WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2pm & 8pm
        THURSDAY 11 APRIL 8pm
        FRIDAY 12 APRIL 8pm
        SATURDAY 13 APRIL 2pm & 8pm
TICKET PRICES:  From $59 + booking fee
0800 TICKETEK or 
Group Bookings 12+ SAVE! 
Telephone Group Bookings or email 

Wednesday April 17th – 8pm 
VENUE:  Trafalgar Centre, Nelson 
SEASON:  Wednesday 17 April, 2013
TICKET PRICES:  From $59 + booking fee 
Everyman Records 
Trafalgar Street 03-548-3083
Group Bookings 12+ SAVE! 

VENUE:  CBS Arena 
SEASON:  Saturday 20 April to Tuesday 23 April, 2013 
        SUNDAY 21 APRIL 2pm and 7pm 
        MONDAY 22 APRIL 8pm 
        TUESDAY 23 APRIL 8pm 
TICKET PRICES:  From $59 + booking fee 
0800 TICKETEK or 
Group Bookings 12+ SAVE! 
Telephone Group Bookings or email 

* Performance times may be subject to change without notice.

Exercise in reduction thrills fans

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 11th Apr 2013

A confession: I haven’t watched a complete episode of Coronation Street since Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner were the queen bees of the Rovers Return. The few bits I have seen since then have been when I have been channel hopping. 

This 50th anniversary celebration stage show condenses the fifty years into short revue sketches performed very much as if it were a panto. It followed a year after there had been in the UK a musical version, Coronation Street – Street of Dreams, which had a character flying over the audience singing a song about longing to be in a cross dressing dance troupe!

The sketches include a student-like ballet (the complicated Connor family romances) and a mimed silent movie, both of which reduce convoluted plots that probably took weeks of television time into a few minutes. The show starts with the Narrator on duty at the Pearly Gates welcoming Blanche and it ends with Elsie, Ena and Minnie looking down on the street from above.

The glossy programme has some mind-boggling information: it lists, along with summaries of the main events of the past five decades, all the births, marriages and deaths on the street. As of 23 September 2012 there have been 156 deaths including those of Harry the budgie and Theresa the turkey. Heart attacks and car accidents are the most common means of disposing of characters. Death caused by trams, barges, and gas explosions are exceptional and they get presented, panto-style, on stage.

William Roache as the Narrator sauntered all over the stage reading from a large book as he linked the sketches together. He also had to watch James Lailey play Ken Barlow performing scenes from some of Ken’s three marriages, his twenty-seven girlfriends and coping with his alcoholic son and his daughter who is a murderer.

The fifty-odd characters are played by six actors who are clearly expert quick-change artists, though none of them caricatured and made really funny any of the features (vocally or physically) of the characters that I can remember. The Coro fans in the audience obviously had no such problems; after all it was designed purely for them. 


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Many memorable moments somewhat marred

Review by John Smythe 10th Apr 2013

Although the first episode of Coronation Street was broadcast in the UK in December 1960, six months after televisions first flickered in NZ homes, Manchurian Tony Warren’s culturally specific and unexpectedly popular Granada TV series didn’t migrate to these climes until 1964.

For about a decade it was broadcast in black and white on our only television channel, so it was part of our cultural fabric and neighbourly conversations; it permeated the national psyche even if, like, me, you were not that inspired by it.  

Given I was only aware of its first four years before moving to Australia, where it was off my radar because it was screened as a daytime serial, and I’ve only had half an eye on it over the past two decades (well ok, my partner records it and sometimes I watch), I am astonished at the strength of my recall of its characters and storylines.  

Apparently this show was only supposed to play the UK as a 50th birthday celebration and touring it to the antipodes was at the instigation of an Australian-based son of English immigrants to New Zealand.

Writer Jonathan Harvey has done an astonishing job of compressing selected plotlines from 50 years into a two hour show (plus interval), and capturing the essence of each character’s voice in cleverly crafted sketches.

Director Fiona Buffini keeps the action flowing at a well-wrought pace on Liz Ascroft’s composite set of brick walls, chimneys staircases and doors that accommodate indoor and outdoor action, with a lighting design by Ian Scott and a sound design by Gareth Owen which together provide some brilliant effects. 

Most importantly, six actors evoke 54 characters in a wonderful array of wigs (Barbara Taylor) and costumes (Selina Nightingale), with varying results. Each hits the mark remarkably with certain characters; all bring focus, energy, humour and good timing to the sketches.

What a shame, then, that all the star-status hoopla has focused on William Roach, who trots out the laziest performance I have ever seen on a professional stage. It may not have been his idea to narrate from a large red folder but surely he could have learned his lines as the St Peter-like character who – in a cute book-ending device – welcomes Blanche to the ‘pearly gates’ (characterised as the gates to Weatherfield’s Newton & Ridley Brewery). His lacklustre reading from the script sucks the energy from any scene he joins and is an offence to the others; especially Mark Sangster’s Blanche. She’d have had a thing or two to say about that, would Blanche.

Dare I say James Lailey plays Ken Barlow better than Roache ever has? His Richard Hillman is excellent too, and Jack Duckworth rings true but his Minnie Caldwell is way off the mark. It’s a good visual gag to have Minnie Caldwell and Martha Longhurst (Daniel Crowder) in drag and taller than Ena Sharlpes (Jo Mousley) when the opposite was true of the originals, but – given all the actors use radio mics – the masculine voices with no attempt to capture the timidity of Ena’s acolytes robs that recurring trio of its essence.  

While her Ena Sharples is not as stolid as I recall, Mousley’s Hilda Ogden and Deirdre are triumphs of impersonation. And Crowder is especially good as Mike Baldwin.

Claire Wyatt is an instantly recognisable Elsie Tanner, her Vera Duckworth pairs well with Lailey’s Jack, but the audience’s hearts almost audibly go out to her Hayley and Sangster’s Roy Cropper.

The most consistently good impersonator is Lucy Thackery who, without necessarily having the physical attributes, follows her splendidly voiced Gail Potter with highly creditable evocations of Rita, Raquel, Tracy Barlow and Becky.

COROnation Street On Stage concentrates on the tawdry soap-opera relationships and sends them up beautifully. I recall attending a TV symposium somewhere where Coro’s first woman producer spoke of the responsibility such serials had to address social issues; a principle they have sustained. Obviously, for a birthday celebration show, it would have trivialised such themes to attempt to include them.

I also note that only the Anglo-Saxon characters have been recreated and although one or two of the ‘immigrant culture’ characters are mention briefly, if you listen very carefully, none are represented in any of the photos in the otherwise comprehensive programme.  

Overall there are many memorable moments offering nostalgia for aficionados and entertainment for those who like ingenious staging – e.g. the simple use of a tea-trolley, the way a tram is brought on to despatch a character, and the way a car is seen to plunge into the canal and go underwater. 


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Take a trip down memory lane to Coro St, chook

Review by Janet McAllister 30th Mar 2013

My co-reviewer, Iris, has been watching Coronation Street since the first episode 52 years ago, and could be dragged away from her telly for the stage show only because she had Coro on auto record. “But I’m not a fanatic!” she says.

Still, as I’ve never seen an episode, she knew a smidgen more than me – useful because this show is one for the fans. A trip down the Street’s memory lane, it depicts highlights of the programme’s history. [More]  


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Coro remembered and mocked panto style

Review by Adey Ramsel 29th Mar 2013

Love it or loathe it, it’s here. With an undeniable – and, in some areas, enviable – rich history of 63 years, two thousand storylines, 92 marriages, 156 deaths and too many to mention affairs, births, abductions, kidnappings and pints pulled and downed, it looks as if it’s here to stay, on our screens at least. 

It seems ironic that Coronation Street the stage play should open on one of only two nights that New Zealand gets the actual programme on TV. Those dedicated enough to be at the theatre had to make do with last night’s programme second hand. Maybe they should have screened last night’s instalment live on stage and started the show at 8.30pm – now that would have been a good curtain raiser and maybe got the audience settled in quicker. 

Understandably, we are a bit lost to begin with, last night, not knowing exactly what we are getting. With the trend to adapt Brit sitcoms to the stage lately, what does this adaptation have in store? A staged episode or two? A musical, revue or the story of Coronation Street the programme, ‘how it came to be’? 

What we are given is a kind of ‘The Complete Works of Coronation Street, abridged’, with actor William Roache, aka our Ken Barlow as Narrator. Once the opening night audience has realised that’s what they’re getting – complete with multi-playing cast, quick changes, composite set, cross dressing, puns and piss-takes – they settled down.

Kicking off with a scene ‘in’t corner shop’ with Ena Sharples from the first episode establishes the pattern of the cast recreating momentous scenes from the past 50 years, interspersing it with characters who wrap up their entire career on the street with flair and wit.

Playwright Jonathan Harvey is an established award winner and his slick style and eye for satire runs rampant down the Street. Not taking itself seriously has served the Street for over 50 years and it works well here. The play laughs at the show, storylines are mocked and characters are sent up, wherein lies the success of the play. 

This is one for die hard fans. Having been subjected to the TV show from an early age and always managing to grab an episode once a week means I can keep up and I am surprised how many storylines I actually remember first hand. The audience covers a diverse age range and two young ladies down from me frequently comment that they’ve “seen this bit on YouTube”.

It’s definitely a show you watch to talk along to; no quiet study of human nature this, or theatrical hypnosis. Those around me are oohing and aahing and nodding agreement that they’ve seen this bit, remember him, hate her, all thoughts which just have to be vocalised.

Once into its stride, appearances are queried and predicted and a quick, very vocal, guessing game begins as to who is who when someone new appears. If you like Coro St then you have to go, not just for the walk down memory street but the sheer fun of it. The laughter may be more from reminiscing than wit but it’s heart-warming and full of joy.

The cast of six do an amazing job switching between periods and character. Top marks to Lucy Thackeray for her eerily accurate Gail; Daniel Crowder for his spot on Steve McDonald, and Jo Mousley for her beautiful caricatures of Hilda and Deidre.

William Roache – how many would have booked without him in the cast? – narrates us through with a ‘This Is Your Life’ big red book, but it feels as if he could engage more with us. Between him and Jonathan Harvey I’m sure they could have come up with a few fond, or maybe not so, Ken memories to spread the smile even further. 

Original set design is attributed to Liz Ascroft: cobbled street, railway arch, back alley, solid wooden front door all play host to the comings and goings, helping the cast recreate in panto mode tram crashes, deaths, murders, muggings, births and sexual shenanigans. 

Selina Nightingale is credited with Costume Co-Design, who, along with Jen Shepherd (Wardrobe Mistress), Campbell Stodart (Wardrobe Assistant) and Dressers Jade Berg and Gregory Shepherd are to be commended for their contribution towards the look and feel of the show; the lightning costume changes adding to the pace and style of the show in no small measure. 

I do hear one woman state that she’s never seen an episode but loves the play. Not sure how many people would agree to that as it’s hard to see the play for the TV series but even if you know the concept I’m sure there’s fun and a giggle to be had at the over the top panto style, expertly delivered under the watchful eye of Director Fiona Buffini. 


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