Musical Theatre Dunedin, 1 Sullivan Avenue, South Dunedin, Dunedin

14/03/2024 - 23/03/2024

Dunedin Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Music and Lyrics by Meredith Stepien & Mark Swiderski
Book by Nick Lang, Matt Lang, & Brian Holden
Arranged by Clark Baxtresser & Pierce Siebers

Director: Max Beal
Choreographer: Olivia Larkins
Vocal Director: Ben Johnson

Musical Theatre Dunedin

Firebringer is the viral hit musical comedy originally produced by StarKid Productions, and produced for Dunedin Fringe Festival 2024 by Musical Theatre Dunedin with 100% locally produced costumes, set and performances.

A new musical comedy following the journey of prehistoric humanity at the dawn of history. The tribe, led by the capable Jamilla, live in a world where everything is new. United, they forage for nuts and berries, watch grass grow, worship a Duck God, and shelter in a cave from the terror of Snarl.

Zazzalil, however, has made a discovery that will change the course of humanity forever. The old way of life is about to be upturned, the tribe will undergo a baptism by Fire as they unleash forces none of them can comprehend. Their lives will never be the same. Welcome to the Stone Age! Welcome to Firebringer!

Fantastically charming, this laugh a minute story is presented by 12 local actors, singers and dancers.

Boasting a score of 17 catchy songs, the music makes stunning use of satisfying close vocal harmony. Paired with excellent evocative dance, Firebringer showcases the immense quality of Dunedin performance.

Firebringer is a show unlike any other musical. Crass, irreverent, clever, heartwarming and with insightful critique, this show is a guaranteed people pleaser.

Come along to Musical Theatre Dunedin, grab a cold drink from the bar, let your hair down and laugh along with the cast of Firebringer!

March 14-23
Tickets $35

Ariana Gepte: Zazzalil
Clare Lewis: Jemilla
Harriett Moir: Molag
Lexie Tomlinson: Chorn
Hazel Simes: Schwoopsie
Jessica Gill: Emberly
Sam Kelly: Grunt
Meko Ng: Tiblyn
Mason Bouzaid: Smelly Balls
Makensie Waddell: Keeri
Jack Hollis-Wilson: Clarke, Snarl, Trunkelle
Jay Bailey - Ducker

Max Beal: Production, Props, Set
June Driver: Costume
Jordyn Williams: Costume
Sharon Wassell: Costume
Anne Gillkinon: Props
Kate Falkingham: Props

Hugo Todd: Stage
Shayne Sparks: Sound
Daniel Cairns: Lighting

Comedy , Dance-theatre , Family , LGBTQIA+ , Musical , Puppetry , Theatre ,

2 hours 45 minutes, with intermission

Huge energy and enthusiasm

Review by Judith Laube 16th Mar 2024

The Dunedin Fringe Festival is a shot in the arm for the city. All the theatres and a wide range of other venues are hosting performances and it is a treat to savour the wide range of styles and material on offer.

My first trip to Musical Theatre’s South Dunedin performance space is a fringe experience in itself as we drive to the hall navigating the protective network of one way streets that surround it. There is a warm welcome at the door and the house is virtually full. A happy buzz of anticipation fills the air and the audience remains friendly and receptive throughout the evening.

Firebringer is a comedy musical with music and lyrics by Meredith Stepien and Mark Swiderski. The book is by Nick Lang, Matt Lang and Brian Holden. It is not a spoiler to tell you the story revolves around the invention or discovery of fire and the amazing effects it has on the stone age way of life.

The tone is light hearted and comic but there are some serious ideas as well. We are asked to consider what makes a good leader; how do we find a balance in our lives between work and art; how do we face up to our responsibility for climate change and what, if anything, should we worship. Director Max Beal does not dwell on these questions but maintains a quick pace and keeps the laughs flowing. The script contains a lot of cuss words and toilet humour which does not appeal to me but most of the audience loves it.There are a few occasions when the action and actors are downstage and are obscured from sight for most spectators but they can always be heard.

Musical direction is by Ben Johnson.The soloists deliver their songs confidently and manage to clearly articulate lines with a lot of words. Lexie Tomlinson as Chorn, Clare Lewis as Jemilla and Ariana Gepte as Zazzalil are particularly strong. When the entire cast sings together it is most enjoyable. The singers harmonise well and produce a warm and full sound.

The choreographer is Olivia Larkins and she has used a small stage to great effect. The actors know exactly where to be and what to do. Their movements are natural and in time with each other. The actions are varied and apposite. This is a well rehearsed production.

All the actors bring huge energy and enthusiasm to their roles. There is an inevitable drop after the (too long) interval but they pick it up again and finish strongly. Each character has a motif to cling on to: the comedian; the food taster; the crony. This is not a drama where there will be a lot of individual growth. The survival of the tribe is the bottom line.

The performers work well together and there are striking partnerships between Ariana Gepte and Clare Lewis and Ariana and Makensie Waddell. Jessica Gill and Sam Kelly also make a charming pair as Emberly and Grunt. Meko Ng, playing Tiblyn, provides the high notes and demonstrates impressive upper body strength. Hazel Simes as Schwoopsie has a good voice and a confident stage presence. Mason Bouzaid,Jay Bailey and Jack Hollis-Wilson give entertaining and competent performances and provide a lot of comedy.

Special mention must be made of Harriet Moir playing Molag. She has the thankless task of opening the show and warming up the audience. Harriet manages this with verve and successfully interacts with the audience. Lexie Tomlinson as Chorn provides some powerful moments which must remain a surprise.

The lighting rig is basic but the lighting effects follow the storyline and are smoothly operated by Daniel Cairns. Sound is by Shayne Sparks. June Driver is Wardrobe Manager. The costumes are simple but effective. There is a pink and plain linen palette with pieces of fur and animal prints to complement the attractive set design of a savannah landscape with rocks and mountains. Max Beal, Shayne Sparks and John Finlayson designed and constructed this and it matches cleverly with the colours of costumes and lighting.

This production is enjoyable to watch. It is well put together and the cast is having a wonderful time. The audience is also having a great night.



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