Flames: A Hip-Hop Musical

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

13/06/2023 - 17/06/2023

Online, Global

26/08/2023 - 09/09/2023

Kia Mau Festival 2023

Production Details

Writers: Roy Iro, Reon Bell and Sepelini Mua’au
Director: Sepelini Mua’au

Private detectives Morgan Reid and Ian Sheff attempt to solve a series of arsons across Wellington city. Their inability to cooperate forces the two to rely on outside help, unintentionally constructing a band of misfits.
Innovative in its fusion of theatre, musical theatre and hip-hop music presented through a detective drama with Aotearoa flavour, Flames is a one-of-a-kind show by Te Kura o Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School graduates Roy Iro and Reon Bell, that celebrates the whakapapa of Hip-Hop culture in Aotearoa.

VENUE: Circa Theatre (Circa 2)

DATE RANGE: Tues 13th – Sat 17th June 2023
TIME: 7:30pm

Flames: 8pm Saturday 26th August – 8pm Saturday 09th September 2023

Actors: Roy Iro, Reon Bell, Sean River

Production Manager: Amanda Joe
Producer: Taylor-Rose Terekia
Sound Designer: Reon Bell
Lighting Designer: Michael Lyell
Image Design: Danielle Mendoza

Dance-theatre , Cultural activation , Maori contemporary dance , Dance ,

60 minutes

Unique, refreshing and innovative hip-hop musical humor we all need in our lives

Review by Nitika Erueti-Satish 10th Sep 2023

Flames begins with a musical introduction to its lead characters, private detectives Morgan Reid and Ian Sheff, through comedic rhymes of cheeky digs mixed to a sick beat on turntables right in front of us. This sets the scene as we journey with the detectives to solve a series of arsons across Wellington City.

Not being able to efficiently cooperate, it is very clear that both detectives suspect each other and form alliances with external forces. As the show progresses you see all five cast members – Roy Iro, Reon Bell, Sean Rivera, Moana Ete, Gypsymae Harihona – piece together theories to uncover who’s behind the arson attacks.

Almost fully delivered musically, Flames incorporates Māori and Pacific language into the dialogue to create a sense of relatability that is easy to connect with. All cast members are musically and lyrically gifted and this reflects the musical integrity of the show as well as the level of talent amongst all the cast members.

Co-created and written by Reon Bell, Roy Iro and Sean Rivera, and directed by Sepelini Mua’au, the show is perfectly constructed. Even though I am watching a live recording, he way everything is shot for the screen – including the set, camera frames and angles – makes me feel like I am there in person.

The set (Lucas Neal) is designed according to the needs of each individual scene with props used to accompany and clearly separate storylines that are being played out in parallel time. Such a clever technique and use of space. The dimmed lighting (Michael Lyell-O’Reilly) is perfect, transforming us into the 1980s and giving American crime television series vibes.

This brilliant and innovative hip-hop crime investigation musical is full of intriguing drama – great storytelling told in an exciting way, and comedy that can only be pulled off by Kiwis. This is some musical humor we all need in our lives. A unique and refreshing show, by far miles ahead of anything seen to hit the stage in years.


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Good laughs, great vibes and fun entertainment

Review by Anya Down 17th Jun 2023

I had the privilege of watching and reviewing FLAMES and I loved every minute of it. It was so different to any show I’ve ever gone to see but so enjoyable. 

The hip hop musical FLAMES directed by Sepelini Mua’au follows the journey of private detectives Morgan Reid and Ian Sheff trying to solve a series of arsons across Wellington. They call for external help for a hand on the case but this causes unintentional conflict between the five members.

Having no knowledge of the performance beforehand, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect for a hip hop musical but they certainly did not disappoint at all.

The performance takes place at Circa Theatre Wellington in the small Circa Two theatre and this gives the audience an up close and personal experience. The use of rap in a theatrical sense to deliver the dialogue keeps the audience engaged and is super satisfying to witness, especially when it’s rhythmical. The set-up of this performance is busy which compliments the chaos of the storyline and the five outstanding performers bring elements of humour and comedy when confidently delivering their lines. Each of their characters bring a different uniqueness to the performance but work cohesively together.

I love the incorporation of Māori language inserted throughout the show and the use of different instruments as music played live by the performers.

I am curious as to how the process of this performance was developed and what they did to create such an exciting masterpiece. 

Overall, I urge you to give it a watch for some good laughs, great vibes and fun entertainment.


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