28/03/2015 - 18/04/2015
Celebrating our 75th Production since 1991
“Greedy Cat sat by the big fridge door. Meow! Meow! Meow! He wanted more.”
New Zealand’s most famous cat comes to life on stage in Auckland for the April school holidays. Auckland’s leading children’s theatre company, Tim Bray Productions celebrates its 75th production since 1991 with Greedy Cat at The PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna from March 28 to April 18.
In creating the show, Tim Bray has based his script on all 10 of the Greedy Cat books by well-known New Zealand children’s author Joy Cowley, adding original songs and music for an entertaining hour-long show.
Originally staged by Tim Bray Productions in 2010, the cast for this season includes original cast members Pippiajna Tui Jane as Greedy Cat, Donogh Rees as Mum and Aunt Ann, and Phil Vaughan as Dad and other characters. Katie Burson joins the cast as Katie and Jason Smith is the musician.
Greedy Cat is the first show presented as part of Tim Bray Productions’ 2015 children’s theatre programme.
Greedy Cat is at
The PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland
from Saturday 28 March to Saturday 18 April
with a Gala opening performance on Saturday 28 March at 5pm.
Other performance times are:
30 March to 2 April, two shows daily at 10.30am and 1pm;
4-18 April, two shows daily at 10.30am and 2pm
(No shows Good Friday, Easter Monday and Sundays).
Children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite pussy-cat. To book, phone (09) 489-8360 or online at www.timbrayproductions.org.nz
Educational (Term Time) Season: 30 March – 2 April
NB: These tickets are General Admission – please see note below*
– Generous discounts and benefits for groups – Click here
– Free Teachers’ Resource Guide packed with cross-curricula activities to do before and after your visit to the show
– One free Teacher’s ticket per 20 children
– Home school groups welcome.
– Enhance your class or school’s visit to the show with a Theatre Workshop. Now available with drama, literature and art activities, Q & A with Tim Bray (diary permitting) and cast, and a backstage tour.
– Public also welcome at these Term Time shows. Educational discounts do not apply to public bookings.
Public (School Holidays) Season: 4 April – 18 April (No shows Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday)
– Early bird discount days – 4 and 7 April – all tickets just $19.50 each
– Costume Parades (School Holiday season only) – Encourage your children to dress up as their own favourite pussy-cat for the onstage Costume Parade at the start of each performance.
Gala Performance: Sat 28 March at 5:00 pm
NB: All children require a ticket as part of the PumpHouse Theatre ticketing policy. Only babes in arms can be granted free entry.
We now offer fun and hands-on workshops for children at the theatre which are anchored around the performance. Half-day and full-day workshops available during school holidays. Example of activities include drama activities, backstage tours, Q & A’s with cast and director. A ticket to the show is included in the price of the workshop. Please contact the Tim Bray Productions’ office for more information and bookings. Phone: 09-486-2261 , Email: email@example.com
Gala Opening Performance: Sat 28 March 5pm
Small post-show function with drinks and nibbles provided, giveaways for children, as well as lucky prize draws. A chance to meet the cast (out of costume/character) and crew after the show.
NZ Sign Language interpreted shows available – session times to be confirmed.
There is a free car park next to the PumpHouse Theatre which is accessed down the driveway off Manurere Ave. If this is full, there is another free car park accessed via a driveway into Killarney Park opposite Takapuna Primary School and Auburn Street with an easy walk down the footpath to The PumpHouse Theatre.
*General Admission – Schools / Early Childhood Centres only (not for Public Bookings)
These are discounted tickets for large school and early childhood centre groups in term time only and not for the general public, and the booking must come from a valid school or ECC email address. Public are welcome to attend these shows and can book A Reserve seats below.
Please note, General Admission seats are not reserved seats and your group will be directed where to sit in the theatre by the ushers in both A and B Reserve seats. Depending on the numbers of various educational groups, as well as general public who have booked reserved seats, your group may have to be seated separately on the day of performance.
If your educational group would prefer not to have the discounted General Admission tickets, and be guaranteed to sit together, then please contact The PumpHouse Box Office on 489 8360 to discuss A and B Reserve booking options.
No Credit Card? If you would like to make a school or ECC booking and would like to pay by invoice with cheque or direct credit please email firstname.lastname@example.org (NB A $20 PumpHouse booking fee applies where payment by invoice is required).
venue: The PumpHouse
Based on the books, Greedy Cat is Hungry, What Does Greedy Cat Like, Along Came Greedy Cat, Greedy Cat and the Sneeze, Greedy Cat’s Door, Lunch for Greedy Cat, Greedy Cat and the Birthday Cake, Greedy Cat and the School Pet Show, all by Joy Cowley, and illustrated by Robyn Belton.
“The Cat is Greedy” – music and lyrics by Phil Hornblow
“Meow Means Now” – music and lyrics by Christine White
Greedy Cat – Pippiajna Tui Jane
Mum / Aunt Ann – Donogh Rees
Dad / Shopkeepers / Judge – Phil Vaughan
Katie – Katie Burson
Musician – Jason Smith
New Zealand Sign Language Interpreters (selected shows) – Kelly Hodgins
Director – Tim Bray
Set Design – Rachael Walker
Lighting Design – Michael Craven
Costume Design & Construction – Chantelle Gerrard
Script Editor – Amanda Rees
Stage Manager – Tru Paraha
Lighting & Sound Operator– Jaz Davis
Lighting & Sound Crew – Michael Craven, Patrick Minto, Simon Woodard, Jaz Davis, Adam Willis
Set Builder – Grant Reynolds
Scenic Artist – Rachael Walker
Props – Natasha Pearl, Rachael Walker
Makeup Design – Natasya Yusoff
Ushers – Sophie Eitle, Tanya Davis, Laura Howe
Teachers’ Resource Guide – Rosemary Tisdall, Getting Kids into Books
Publicist – Sally Woodfield, SWPR
Massage Therapist – Bryce Hatton, Return to Form, Ponsonby
Photography – David Rowland / One-Image.com
Trailer and full length video – Chillbox Creative
Illustration – Robyn Belton
Print Design – Stefania Sarnecki-Capper, Red Design
Theatre , Children’s ,
Review by Lexie Matheson ONZM 30th Mar 2015
New Zealand is in Cricket World Cup finals mode and Tim Bray is 75 not out. Not runs, but productions. I wonder how Bray and his team felt on the opening night of that first production in 1991 … Excited, I’ll bet.
I wonder, also, if Bray thought on that occasion that 25 years and 75 productions later he’d still be presenting top quality professional theatre for children, still employing the very best actors and creatives and still providing an introduction to the magic of live performance to another generation of Kiwi kids.
Greedy Cat is an excellent choice for an occasion like this. Bray is accustomed to adapting and producing Joy Cowley’s work and some of the fiddly little issues of the past are simply not evident in this production. Cowley is a literary writer for little kids so turning her narrative into text is no easy task. The erudition of Cowley for kids sees her consumed with rhyme and rhythm, quirky characters, humanised animal personalities and always, always, fantastic visuals. Lovely though this is for bedtime reading, it lacks some of the key ingredients necessary for good theatre which makes Bray’s success with this script just that much more laudable.
Finding a serious protagonist isn’t always the simplest of tasks when adapting kids’ fiction, especially if the characters happen to be animals or fantasticals but in this account Bray makes the profoundly plump puss fulfil this role without affecting our unbridled love of the mischievous moggy.
We’re met, on arrival, by a stage with three giant letters in different colours topped by an assortment of equally large comestibles. The letters spell ‘C A T’ in cartoon lingo and they’re absolutely enchanting. ‘Rachael Walker’, I think to myself quietly in the rowdy dark, and I am correct. This Walker set has all the hallmarks of this exceptional designer: it’s immensely attractive and, as the show plays out, proves to be incredibly practical as well.
All theatre needs space for movement, for action playing of one sort or another and, where necessary, to give physical meaning to the text. Rachael Walker never fails to deliver on these tenets and she’s aced them all – again. It’s not just the giant letters, though. There’s a red table and chairs which also play into the visual delights of the cartoony concept, some excellent props and the ‘C A T’ letters contain many hidden delights.
Actors appear and it’s immediately apparent that the costumes, designed and made by Chantelle Gerrard are exceptional as well. They’re functional and vivid, support the overall design concept and enhance the picture-book-come-to-life creation that is at the heart of Bray’s excellent production.
There’s no point in creating work of this nature if it can’t be seen and to this end Bray has engaged, as lighting designer, the brilliance of Michael Craven – why not employ the very best? – and his work is ably made real by Jaz Davis who handles the sound operation as well.
A Tim Bray Productions show without music would be like a clown without laughter and this facet of Greedy Cat is in the remarkable hands of keyboard genius Jason Smith. His accompaniment of the action and contribution to character is quite simply outstanding and the success of the show owes much to his exquisite timing and talents.
Now to the cast – and what an equally astounding bunch they are. Bray’s cartoon concept needs big, fast and sassy playing and, as anyone who has tried to work like this will tell you, it ain’t that easy. It’s even harder to make the work look effortless but these actors do so and with oodles to spare.
The incomparable Donogh Rees plays both the radically absent-minded Mum and the sharp-as-a-tack, doesn’t-miss-a-trick, elderly Aunt Ann. They’re as different as chalk and cheddar and equally delightful. On the surface they’re as real as right this minute but beneath the seeming spontaneity is a craft well-honed and an actor totally on top of her game. The voice is in great nick – t his can be said about all the cast with the exception of Pippianja Tui Jane but more about that later – and we hear every word without any sense of over-work or effort.
Katie, erstwhile owner/servant of the great, gluttonous greedy-guts of the story’s title, is played with great skill by Katie Burson. Getting beyond the stereotype of an actor playing a child isn’t a simple task but Burson does it really well. She’s supported by a vastly empathic stage family and together they present the epitome of the perfect family (with a few ‘pencils in the hair’ idiosyncrasies).
Last, but certainly not least, in this human family, is Phil Vaughan who plays Dad – and everyone else. The programme underplays his contribution by simply listing his characters as ‘Dad / Shopkeepers / Judge’ but it’s much, much more than that. Vaughan is a smart comedian and instantly likeable. He’s the Dad we all wish we’d had: patient, funny (in a bizarre way but aren’t all Dads?), generous and there when you, or you cat, or your Mum, most need him. He’s a responsive actor, too, with craft to burn, and he needs it because a number of his ‘shopkeeper’ characters augment the text of this otherwise slight story, and the parents of the littlies for whom this work is made need it too.
Mum and Katie go shopping for goodies for a family birthday and they’re fortunate to find a shop that sells everything they need and, even better, has a specialist in charge of each unique foodie treat. There’s the sausage maker (Vaughan) who tells tales about his sausages only to have them pinched by the mouser. There’s Pierre, the French patisserie man (Vaughan in chapeaux) who produces innuendo-filled sticky buns only to have them pilfered by the tubby tabby. There’s Andy in the cap (Vaughn again), the Eastender who predictably produces potato crisps only to have them purloined by the felonious puss. Then there’s Efron, the gay fruiterer, with his ‘yes, we ain’t got no bananas’ showstopper – it’s Vaughan in yet another hat – and Greedy Cat, once again, departs with the spoils.
Finally there is Sebastian the chocolatier whose love of his own products alone matches the greed of our furry feline – and thus ends Vaughan’s sextet of magnificent merchants. He’s stunningly funny, physically adept, vocally nimble, and the result is many, many minutes of absolute hilarity appreciated by the whole audience but, in particular, the large number of parents, grandparents and caregivers, many of whom have become regular participants in the traditional Tim Bray opening performance.
I promised to come back to Pippiajna Tui Jane and her sublimely realised Greedy Cat so here we are. She might not have had any lines in a conventional sense but her cantankerous creature has no difficulty making himself understood. Gifted with a superb sense of mimicry, Pippiajna Tui Jane mews, snarls, purrs and yowls her way through the performance ingratiating us into servanthood even when we don’t want to go there.
We’ve all known cats like this covetous creature: they’re both delightful and a massive pain in the butt, and this actor embodies every physical and vocal characteristic imaginable. It’s a super performance and the applause for cast, crew and cat at the conclusion of the evening is heartfelt and genuine.
In retrospect this is the best Tim Bray Production of all the ones I’ve seen; the most complete. The creatives on the technical side have done wonderful work, the actors are magnificent and the whole comes together splendidly.
Our son – age 12 and for many years the proud owner of all the Greedy Cat books – says he’s really enjoyed the show but it’s probably pitched at kids a bit younger than him. I suspect he’s right. He has appreciated the theatrical stuff – the lighting, sound, set, Jason Smith’s prodigiously good keyboards and the excellent performances – but the narrative hasn’t quite grabbed him. It certainly grabs the ‘up-to-tens’ though (and it should be remembered that our son sees a lot of pretty adult theatre and is currently rehearsing the role of ‘The Magic Carpet’ in Aladdin at his school which rather changes everything. No, I don’t know how you play a magic carpet, but I dare say I will in a few months. Watch this space).
For me, I love Greedy Cat and everything about it. I suggest you will too. Grab a bunch of willing kids, book soon, and rock on up to The Pumphouse. You’ll have a meow of a time!
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer