Centrestage, Orewa, Auckland

29/06/2013 - 04/07/2013

TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

01/03/2011 - 05/03/2011

TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs - return season, Auckland

23/11/2013 - 30/11/2013

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details

Sisters Amy Waller and Catherine Waller have collaborated with designer, Naomi Bisley to create a new NZ work inspired by their grandmother Gloria Stanford, and her remarkable life during WW2.

GLORIA explores a simultaneously enchanting and bleak wartime world, infused with the strange logic of memory and time. This fierce and delicate taleenters into the imagination and love between a grandmother and her granddaughter. The domestic can become fantastical and stories can morph from film noir, to adventure to dreamscape, to fairytale, in the blink of an eye. 

It is a journey into the heart of a charming and vivacious woman where objects help to unravel intricate stories involving letters never received, soldiers believed dead returning home, flickering romances, love affairs with movie stars and desperate war brides jumping ship.

War bride to an American Solder, Gloria Stanford’s left–leaning views put her at odds with the American Authorities when she was forced to leave her homeland with “the contingent of New Zealand brides of American Service men” and ship off to live with a soldier who was close to a stranger. Distraught and struggling with their newborn baby, Gloria faced the American military and left the ship in the middle of the night.

This Auckland Girl’s dramatic dash from the ship made headlines around the world as ‘The bride who wouldn’t leave NZ’. Fan mail swarmed the Mt Eden letter boxes to reach the ’21 year old, attractive, medium blonde hair, Mrs Gloria Schmidt’.

GLORIA is a window into the memory of a person’s life, and an exciting journey into the heart of a woman as she recalls the secrets, struggles and adventures of her past.

The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC)
Tuesday 1st March to Saturday 5th March 2011.
Times: Tues, Thurs, Sat 6.30pm and Wed, Fri 8.30pm
Tickets: Adults $25.00, Concession $20.00
Book now at TAPAC – or 09 8450290 ext 2


Gloria returns bigger and better than ever 

Following a fabulous season premiere at the 2011 New Zealand Fringe Festival, Amy and Catherine Waller’s solo show GLORIA is set to paint the Hibiscus Coast red with the redeveloped work in its season at Centre Stage Theatre next month.

Like the remodelling of a vintage dress, GLORIA is a show for everyone. The fusion of 1940’s swing music, dancing and fearless physical theatre promises to keep you on the edge of your seat as it takes you from the domestic to Film Noir, to the fantastical in the blink of an eye. It is a fierce examination of how people change in different contexts and how events can warp and beautify through the lens of one’s memory.

Centrestage Theatre and The Vintage Collective present
at Centrestage Theatre, 60 Centreway Road, Orewa,
June 29 – July 4, 7.30pm and July 2 & 4, 2 pm.
or (09) 426 7282


“A rich, refined work that captures the nuance and texture of the period in exactitude, through movement, text and technical skill“ – THEATREVIEW

“A fascinating story and unique piece of theatre of one of New Zealand’s war brides” – NZ HERALD 

“GLORIA is a winner! A beautiful piece of nostalgia which is not old fashioned” – SWEET AF 

TAPAC Return Season  

The Vintage Collective in association with Sharu Loves Hats presents
at TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs,
23 – 30 November, 7.30 pm.
No Shows on Nov 26 and Nov 29.
36 or (09) 845 0295.

Woman’s bold tenacity caught in memorable monologue

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 25th Nov 2013

Amy Waller’s one-woman show addresses the widely felt yearning to keep alive the stories of our immediate ancestors and demonstrates how intimate family history can be translated into the language of theatrical storytelling.

In a moving tribute to her grandmother, Waller vividly captures the swirling emotions of a wartime romance that became front page news when 21-year-old Gloria Stanford abruptly disembarked from a ship that was departing for America with a cargo of Kiwi war brides.

The story comes to us in a jumbled collage of sharply defined memories and anecdotes that echoes the haphazard process by which children develop an awareness of the experiences that shaped their parents and grandparents. [More]


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Heart-felt illuminations

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 24th Nov 2013

Gloria is a lovely, nostalgic and genuine tribute to a remarkable woman, created with all the care, detail and love that you would expect from proud grand daughters Amy and Catherine Waller. 

Their empathy and admiration for her strong-willed war-bride grandmother Gloria Stanford is apparent, through both the meticulous script and a compassionate, warm, polished performance. 

Amy Waller takes on the story telling in the form of a solo-show, and 1940s upbeat swing and dance is employed, to break up the narrative. She moves with wonderful grace and aplomb, rising to the challenge of performing couples’ moves from just one dancer’s perspective.

The pace, politeness and domesticity of the 1940s is alive and well in Waller’s hands, as she takes us through everyday routines and tasks with flow and precision.

Set design by Naomi Bisley is authentic, practical as well as inventive, with many props used cleverly throughout the play. Sound design by Ben King adds great texture to the story. King captures the waves and seascape of Aotearoa perfectly. Voice-overs from Adam Gardiner and Tim Carlsen do the same with fine 1940s enunciation and tone.

My dates are two bright enquiring ten-year-olds, and I’m pleased both girls now have a good grasp of how things were on the home front for some Kiwi women during WW2. From Morse code in Mount Eden to films and flirtations at the Moodabe’s residence; from the arrival of the Yanks to save us from the Japs to the telling cultural divide and tyranny of distance between America and New Zealand, Gloria is a thorough and enlightening personal perspective from a fascinating time in New Zealand’s recent war history.

The girls do get bit fidgety at the 60-minute mark, as do others in the audience (including myself), indicating that perhaps either a small trim and edit here and there, or greater variation in pace, might better serve this one act show.

However both girls remark that the play is very clever and that “Amy is a really good actor.” We all enjoy the way the journey ends the same way it starts, plus both girls really enjoy Gloria’s actual poems, which slip into the script, from time to time.

We are also all in agreement that the most engaging scene is when Gloria’s husband’s bullying friend Bernie threatens to do the unthinkable with one of the things Gloria treasures the most.

This is by far Waller’s strongest moment on stage and in script, as the jeopardy and emotion is palpable. If the same intensity had been employed during other life-changing moments in the narrative, perhaps it could have a positive impact on the pace and atmosphere of the journey.

Amy Waller has truly given this production and plays her all – she is its co-creator, choreographer, actor, co-producer, co-collaborator and co-designer of lighting. Without wanting to take anything away from that dedication and passion, perhaps sharing her wonderful work with the outside eye and perspective of a director might help to find more tangible moments within this illuminating story.

We feel very privileged to meet and share scones with four generations of Waller woman, including Gloria herself, before and after this heart-felt work. Thank you so much for sharing your story.


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A first class treat of imagination

Review by Adey Ramsel 30th Jun 2013

Will there ever be a time when we stop drawing on the stories of our ancestors for theatrical purpose? I hope not. They are a constant source of thrills, adventure, wonder and excitement, all the more special as they belong to those dear to us. Invariably they entail war, struggle and poverty, passing through major historical events. 

In as much as these stories need to be written down, they need to be performed, to show as well as tell – always the better access route to those who have no prior knowledge. 

By the same token – are we ourselves, you and I, living enough adventure, thrills and excitement to inspire future generations in this way? Hmmm. Makes you wonder. 

Gloria Stanford did wartime service in the Auckland she grew up in and married a GI, Charles. On his demob she, and a gaggle of others GI brides, were shipped to the US to be reunited with their husbands. Gloria, though, refused to go. 

Known as ‘The Bride Who Refused to Leave NZ’, Gloria got off the ship and stayed in NZ. Eventually she did join her husband but things obviously didn’t work out as she returned, re-married and lived to inspire her two granddaughters: Amy and Catherine Waller.

Amy Waller does an amazing job as solo performer, holding a very slick 70 minutes together with panache and style. 

Naomi Bisley’s excellent set and lighting design, shared with in house tech Jonathan Diggle, evokes a period of nostalgia which Waller matches with her charm and elegance. Her subtlety in portraying such a strong character shines through as she progresses and is testament to Waller as performer and her inspirational source. 

Simplicity is king here, though I suspect the tech rehearsals took both their time and toll on those involved; complicated in the build but slick, well-polished and professional to the core in execution. 

With humour, choreography, pathos and a scone-making demonstration thrown in, this is a first class treat of imagination; a one-woman show that at heart is simple and well told. Anyone will be able to access this story and Rodney residents should take advantage of the short season. 

I do find the ‘Bride Who Refused to Leave NZ’ teaser wanting somewhat, save for the quickly glossed over facts it’s a minor case of ‘all build up and not a lot of pay-off’ that leaves me wondering why she refused? And why did she eventually go? The few facts we are handed seem small fry to recreate what is, in fact, the point of difference in Gloria’s story. 

The fact that Gloria made headlines around the country over this speaks volumes, even today, and the repercussions and infamy at a time when ‘obey’ was still very much in evidence in the wedding vows, must have been widespread. More on the fall out would have fulfilled me, I think, and not left me wondering. This is the real story and one I would like to know more of.


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A wonderful tribute

Review by Stephen Austin 02nd Mar 2011

The stories of our parents and grandparents are ripe ground for interpretation and analysis; more so their contribution in times of war. It can be tricky to make such frequently trod material stand out from the crowd.

In the telling of the tale of their own grandmother, Gloria Stanford, who took a stand to not leave New Zealand to follow the American soldier she loved during World War 2, creators Amy and Catherine Waller – with designer Naomi Bisleyhave created a rich, refined work that captures the nuance and texture of the period in exactitude, through movement, text and technical skill.

Performed by Amy, with high precision and finesse, the piece begins slowly examining the everyday minutiae of wartime housewife duty through the shuffling and juggling of plates upon a table. The expression grows, in interesting and diverse ways, through items housed tidily around the stage: a pile of suitcases is used as a stove-top (which actually boils a jug, live!), cigarettes and a Zippo are discovered in a gramophone and a table and chairs become ships, nightclub dance-floors and many other locales.

Gloria’s determination to stay behind to give birth to her child and find an independent life is central to her voyage and the script and movement capture this beautifully. At times the physicality is more than enough to keep us engaged, at others we simple require clarity to be provided through text, sometimes a word or two is enough.

Lighting is suitably atmospheric and sound is integrated nicely, to incorporate other characters within the story and carry an almost cinematic series of transitions. It is these perfectly executed fast-forwards and rewinds that pull this production beyond the mundane and ignite the imagination. A couple of vocal telephone cues were slightly out of synch with the performer, but this is likely best put down to first night jitters.

A quiet nod from Amy to the front row on opening night seemed to indicate that family and possibly even Gloria herself were in the audience. This is a wonderful tribute to a fascinating, very individual woman. She has given rise to a family who care greatly and are able to express it with the rich love and attention she deserves.

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust

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