TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

08/07/2016 - 22/07/2016

Production Details


The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) is excited to announce the return of Dexter these July school holidays. This time he’s going to Africa!  

After a successful season of Dexter’s Deep Sea Discovery, which won the NZ Playmarket 2015 Plays for the Young award, critically acclaimed writers Jess Sayer (Mason Playwriting award 2015 winner) and Darlene Mohekey (TV1’s Facelift), are back July 8-22 to wow audiences of all ages once again.  

“The show is for all ages, containing fun interaction for kids, modern jokes for teens/tweens, and some jokes that crack up the adults.” – Theatreview’s Loki Smythe on Dexter’s Deep Sea Discovery.  

Dexter’s Amazing African Adventure is an interactive pantomime taking children, preteens/teens and adults to a different world full of creativity, imagination and exploration. However Dexter also battles bigger issues for children growing up in a complex world.

“With this work, we explore the concept of bullying, the feelings of not being good enough and the tall poppy syndrome” say writers Jess Sayer and Darlene Mohekey. 

The play aims to inspire and entertain through the art of storytelling, and features an extraordinary line up of award-winning New Zealand talent, including Amanda Tito (TV2’s Step Dave, The Book of Everything), Bryony Skillington (Shortland Street), Jason Chasland (Showstoppers, The Hot House), Hadley Taylor (Shortland Street) and Estevez Gillespie (Power Rangers). 

About Dexter:  

Dexter loves animals and the zoo, sometimes wishing he could live there. So he doesn’t think twice when a bratty baboon asks to switch places for a night. Dexter soon learns that animals in Africa are being hunted by a dangerous poacher and if no one helps soon, there won’t be animals left.  

With the help of his new furry friends, Dexter is magically transported to the plains of Africa on a super silly safari that will test every ounce of his courage. This crazy, hilarious show full of Hip-Hop Hippos, Elegant Elephants and Flaptastic Flamingos cannot be missed. Will Dexter save the animals?     

Dexter’s Amazing African Adventure 

Dexter’s on a super silly safari that will test every ounce of his courage. This crazy Pantomime show full of Hip-Hop Hippos and Elegant Elephants cannot be missed. Will Dexter save the animal? BOOK NOW to find out.  

Dexter’s Amazing African Adventure plays in Auckland
at TAPAC theatre, July 8-22 
Tickets: $15 Earlybird Family Pass (for four, until June 24): $50. Family Pass (from June 25): $55. Book:
or 09 845 0295. 

For more info: 
Website –
Facebook –   

Reviews for Dexter’s Deep Sea Discovery 

“The hip soundtrack, surprisingly stellar acting and the feel-good story running through the centre make Dexter’s Deep Sea Discovery not only a fun watch but yet another discovery of TAPAC’s awesome talent and charisma. These shows always end on a high and leave audience members buzzing as they walk to their cars.” – Nicholas Brookland, Keeping Up With NZ 

“From the moment the fabulously talented Jason Chasland burst on to the stage as Crabulous in a hilarious scene arguing with Siri on his phone, the sold-out audience was won over. So parents, grandparents and other caregivers, stop putting up with grisly bored children and book your tickets.” – Kelly Mahika, Rotorua Daily Post 

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

Glued to the Stage

Review by Matt Baker 20th Jul 2016

Written by Jess Sayer, one of New Zealand’s grittiest adult playwrights, and Darlene Mohekey, the creative and musical genius The Blue Baths, Dexter’s Amazing African Adventure follows Dexter’s journey (a year after his deep sea discovery) to save the last African Black Horn Rhinoceros. It’s a simple premise with little conflict, but Sayer and Mohekey extrapolate on it to provide a thoroughly entertaining show with genuine heart these school holidays.

From Lady Gaga and The Backstreet Boys to The Clash and John Lennon, the show is full of musical numbers with adapted lyrics, an extension of the pun-laden script, providing comedic value for both children and adults. Dan Williams’ set is simple, yet effective, and as director Sayer uses the space, both onstage and off, to create the necessary sense of chaos in the cartoonesque moments of the show. [More


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Educational escapism clamorously appreciated

Review by Nik Smythe 09th Jul 2016

Riding the wave of success from last year’s holiday extravaganza, Dexter’s Deep Sea Discovery, writer/directors Jess Sayer and Darlene Mohekey’s titular hero returns this winter for a whole new exciting and hilarious adventure.  While education and awareness-building are implicit, the real order of the day is madcap entertainment, utilising all the classic panto traditions of music, dance, comedy, melodrama and audience participation. 

Amanda Tito’s Dexter, still eight, is at once naïve, inquisitive, logical, vulnerable, compassionate and brave.  Transported ‘by the power of pantomime!’ to the scorching plains of Africa, he finds himself on an intrepid mission to save the last surviving member of a particular sub-species of Black Rhinoceros.  Along the way he encounters a menagerie of animals both friendly and sinister, plus not one but two despicable villains in sore need of some correctional guidance. 

The remaining cast covers between two and several roles each.  Bryony Skillington’s audaciously larger-than-life personae include Dexter’s big sister Britney (a Kiwi Vicki Pollard), a flatulent panda and a sassy, memory-impaired wild elephant.  Estevez Gillespie is greedy poacher Benjamin Beezle with the record-breaking moustache and a gammy leg, as well as a baboon (I think). 

Hadley Taylor’s main role among many is the aforementioned Rhino-in-distress, Horn Solo, who inexplicably talks like Kermit the frog.  Jason Chasland portrays two mammalian authority figures: Edna the sagacious domesticated elephant, (whose respected reputation conveniently stretches from her home in ‘Zoolandia’ to the old country), and Noah the uber-smooth macho king lion.

Darlene Mohekey is both uber-baddie Wanda the Weirdo Witch, and Dexter’s dearly missed Mum.  Besides these mentioned, other members of the animal kingdom represented are baboons, a meerkat, flamingos, and a hippo.  In trying to retrospectively place every character with the actor that played them, it’s hard to believe there are only six players in total. 

Across the board the cast’s skills in comedy, song and dance are for the most part commendable.  Styles of humour employed include puns, slapstick, innuendo, puns, reference humour (films, music, social media etc), puns, character humour, observational irony and puns.  A similarly eclectic range of musical styles draws on the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, The Clash, Backstreet Boys, Dolly Parton, Joan Jett, Jessie J and John Lennon, et cetera.

The artistic direction appears to follow the same mandate of fun-driven absurdism as the rest of the production.  The set, designed by Dan Williams, comprises a cave, a scaffold and rope jungle gym, rocks, plants and reversible signs to denote the two main locales of the local ‘Zoolandia’ park and the wide open spaces of Central Africa. 

The impressive efforts of costume designer Sarah Burren bring a wide spectrum of colour and vibrancy to the onstage party, with too many favourite examples to mention. 

The actors draw maximum entertainment by any means necessary, appropriate or otherwise.  The broadness of certain characters – e.g. Wanda – could feasibly be construed as culturally offensive, but then so might Beezle the right-wing Pom or Britney the selfie-obsessed Kiwi teenager; indeed, just about anyone besides Dexter.  For his part, talking animals and other elaborate hallucinations would be cause for serious psychiatric concerns in reality. 

Suffice to say, this is not reality, and nobody is safe from politically incorrect stereotypification.  Even the truly devastating reality of the impending doom of some of the world’s oldest continent’s most majestic beasts is essentially glossed over in the name of escapist holiday entertainment.  Personally I have no objection to this M.O.; it plants the seed for contemplation of the tragic real-world implications once the catharsis of outrageous mirth subsides. 

Judging by the audience’s consistently clamorous appreciation, no-one else objects much either.  Potentially awkward questions for parents to field on the way home include, but aren’t limited to, whether there really is only one Black Rhino left in the world, and/or what exactly the grown-ups were laughing at so guiltily at certain points. 


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