CRINGE WORTHY 80s!

Centrepoint, Palmerston North

06/11/2021 - 11/12/2021

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

21/05/2022 - 11/06/2022

Production Details



Cringe Worthy is back, baby!

Cringe Worthy 80s is a righteous, stellar, fantabulous blast from the past that is equal parts nostalgic and hilarious. Taking you back to NZ in the 1980s, it’s a feast of contagious, kiwi songs served with a side of spandex and a huge dollop of cheesy comedy!

Brought to you by the creators of NZ’s favourite girl group, The Beatgirls.

Centrepoint Theatre, 280 Church Street, Palmerston North
6 November – 11 December 2021
Wednesday • 6.30PM
Thursday • 7.30PM
Friday • 7.30PM
Saturday • 7.30PM
Sunday • 4PM
Opening Night: Saturday 6 November
Q&A: Saturday 10 November
TICKETS
Student • $30
Subscription Package • $40
Concession* • $42; Early Bird $40
Adult • Full $50; Early Bird $45
Dinner + Show • $85 – $95
*Seniors and Community Services Cardholders. Valid I.D. is required.


Starring: Andrea Sanders, Caitlin Penrose, Devon Neiman, Matt Mulholland


Theatre , Musical , Cabaret ,


Cringeworthy and so much fun

Review by Sarah Catherall 23rd May 2022

I haven’t laughed this much in a long time. On Friday night at Circa Theatre, Andrea Sanders – the Beatgirls founder and singer – takes us on a nostalgic trip through the decade in which I was a teenager: the 80s.

Her three cast members – Susie Dunn, Matt Mulholland and Devon Neiman – weren’t even born when Sanders and I were singing along to Jenny Morris and The Crocodiles’ hit ‘Tears’.

Cringeworthy – The 80s is a musical comedy showcasing some of the bands and Kiwi songs we heard on our airwaves and two TV channels in the 1980s. [More]

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A unique blend of warmth, humour and spirit

Review by Donna Banicevich Gera 21st May 2022

It’s a cold, wet, windy night in downtown Wellington. Mist sits over the harbour, and the odd electric scooter light disappears into darkness, taking people home.

Exit outdoors. Enter Circa Theatre. Lighting change.

The stage is set. Cringeworthy – The 80s, presented at Circa 1, is here. A wonderful return to the world of live performance, absent for a lot of us for so long now.

And this is wonderful.

A voice somewhere whispers: “1988 was the best year of my life – I’m so looking forward to this.”

And so it begins.  Nothing beats sitting in a theatre, hearing audiences laughing, singing, making comment, and moving to the music, while watching a cast give their all. Haven’t we missed this?

Originally commissioned by Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North and now being performed in Wellington, Cringeworthy – the 80s is created, directed, and performed by the incredibly talented Andrea Sanders. He supporting cast is Devon Neiman, Susie Dunn and Matt Mulholland.

All deliver skilled, committed, highly charged, energetic performances. There is strength in their individual voices and dance routines, but when they mix and merge they mount a magical collaboration, a widely engaging performance, and a unique blend of warmth, humour and spirit.

The show spans 10 years, overflowing with a range of hits by New Zealand and overseas music makers that have stood the test of time. You know these songs. You know these bands. You know these musicians – even if you weren’t alive in the 80s.

While the first half focuses on a range of work by local artists, the second half moves offshore, combining local talent with international. The music of Jon Stevens, Neil Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Jenni Morris and Sharon O’Neil, and the work of local bands including The Mockers and the Dance Exponents – just to name a few – have people on their feet, dancing along the back wall.

The performance of Devon Neiman has won the heart of the person behind me. “I just love him,” they say. And one has to agree, he is a delight.

Alongside the powerful vocals and slick choreography though, a clever narration takes us on its own pathway through history. The show twists and turns back on time with joyous humour, a wee bit of lycra, a few shoulder pads, and lots of big hair. The exuberance on display is intoxicating. The casts wide-eyed openness for fun is all on show. Supported by lighting designer Joshua Tucker and set design by Shiloh Dobie the package is complete.

A terrific night out delivered with panache. With a running time of 1 hour 45 minutes, this is just damn good entertainment – it’s time to get out of the house.

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Lightweight nostalgic up-tempo musical cabaret

Review by Richard Mays 07th Nov 2021

Arguably Kiwi arts and entertainment has taken the greatest hits from Covid as a year of uncertainties and shutdowns continues to exact a toll on the sector.  

It’s appropriate then, that a selection of the greatest Kiwi hits provide the platform for this splashy theatrical outburst of coloratura, choreography, costume and comedy – even if we have to time-warp back to the pre-Covid 80s to get it.

The brainchild of Beatgirls co-founder Andrea Sanders, Cringeworthy works familiar covers territory; this time recreating energetic stylings and arrangements for well-known 80s songs performed in cozzie over a backing track and strung together by a wisecracking narrative.  

From the beginning this takes on semi-documentary overtones, opening with Blam Blam Blam’s There is No Depression in New Zealand from 1981 – a year overshadowed by the apartheid-era Springbok rugby tour.

As well as fashion reminders (shoulder pads, legwarmers), the four-member cast is resplendently attired the garishly toned outfits of the day – along with references to spikey mullets, Billy T. James, TVNZ’s Gloss, Poi E, jazzercise, anti-nuclear legislation, the ’86 crash, the advent of Lotto and TV3.

It’s a pity the minimalist programme notes aren’t more forthcoming about the performers or the context inspiring this production.

The 80s was the era when Kiwi music, arts and film began to shrug off New Zealand’s collective cultural cringe and assert themselves – hence, I assume, the title.

While the likes of Split Enz, Crowded House and Sharon O’Neill achieved international success, despite stifling radio airplay restrictions on homegrown music, some local acts did manage to break through and score highly on the Kiwi charts.  

Among them were Jon Stevens, Peking Man, The Holidaymakers, Dave Dobbyn, Mi-Sex, The Mockers, Margaret Urlich, Dance Exponents, Jenny Morris and the Crocodiles. Arrangements of their songs are lovingly recreated.

Included is the little nugget that Split Enz co-founder Phil Judd wrote 1981’s Counting the Beat for The Swingers while visiting Palmerston North.

With Sanders and her three sidestepping sidekicks Matt Mulholland, Caitlin Penrose and Devon Neiman achieving vigorous and mostly snappy presentations, Cringeworthy is a beautifully arranged, co-ordinated, staged and well-lit foray into the era.

That’s despite the sound mix initially being too toppy.

And even if some of the verbal jokes fall flat, the physical humour and ongoing vocals gags work a treat, with Neiman in particular dextrously adopting personas that are thoroughly embedded in every routine.

Penrose has a wonderful voice – beautifully showcased in O’Neill’s song Maxine and in her second half Total Eclipse of the Heart duet with Sanders – whose vocal chops, fancy footwork and creative vignettes were all over everything.

Mulholland takes full advantage of the plentiful opportunities to show off his remarkable versatility, and as for that flashy first-act suit – oh my!

The flavour of the decade is also captured in Shiloh Dobie’s set design, which provides a nice nod to TVNZ 70s and 80s music shows Radio With Pictures and Ready To Roll.

Singing and moving with such concerted energy, it’s inevitable that the performers occasionally run out of puff, but even rehearsed breaks for taking an on-stage breather have been worked into the musical skits.

The only disappointment is the second half detour away from Kiwi music into 80s Brit Pop (including the inevitable ‘Rick Roll’), the New Romantics, international stadium rock and power ballads.

Given that New Zealand-written and recorded numbers were often denied airplay by these very songs, there’s an irony that they manage to successfully invade this pitch as well.

Maybe the performing rights to The Chills, The Clean, Th’ Dudes, The Verlaines et al simply weren’t available.

But, with the opportunity for phone-torch waving and singalongs, this lightweight nostalgic up-tempo musical cabaret offers a slick antidote to the Covid Delta blues, even if the audience is socially distanced, masked and confined to their seats.

The countdown to Christmas is on and with these dynamic performances this as good a place as any to gather, enjoy and (hopefully) acknowledge 2021’s “we’ll say goodbye (even though we’re blue)” swansong.

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