Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

11/03/2021 - 12/03/2021

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details

Homemade bread, teddy bears in windows, toilet paper hoarding, and endless zoom calls – sound familiar? Just some of the new normals that came from 2020’s nation-wide lockdown. 

And what do musical theatre kids do when faced with cancelled gigs, work shifts cancelled, hours of boredom, and the prospect of the unknown? – Make plans to put on a show, of course!

Ghostlight Productions presents a post-apocalyptic ‘lockdown’ edition of their debut musical theatre revue Just-A-Taste. Coming to you, live and in person, as part of 2021’s Fringe Festival on March 10, 11 and 12 at Gryphon Theatre.

Six performers will showcase hits from Broadway and West End hits: Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen, Mean Girls, Kinky Boots and Waitress. The twist? Just A Taste incorporates, weaves and celebrates some favourite hits… although we can’t present whole shows, we can give you… Just A Taste!

The musicals featured in Just A Taste were chosen to reflect a unique period of time in our history, with theatres closed, both nationwide and globally, these shows have come to a standstill. Lights are down, seats are empty, theatres are dying. Our favourite musicals may never see the stage again. As well as being some of their ‘dream roles’, each of the Just a Taste performers also have unique ties to the musicals and characters.

Jthan Morgan, creative director of Ghostlight and graduate of Whitireia Musical Theatre, tackles the persona of host and drag queen Lola, from Cindy Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s Kinky Boots – an ode to his own real-life experience as an up and coming drag queen.

Joe Mara, Ghostlight associate, Wellington performer and criminal lawyer embraces the wide-eyed, earnest Elder Price of South Park creator’s musical The Book of Mormon. Mara, in a previous life – was a proselytising Mormon missionary in Sydney Australia.

Jess Old, New Plymouth native and another member of the Ghostlight production team is no stranger to loss of close loved ones, tackles Eliza Hamilton in her story woven full of love, loss, and infidelity.

Kree McMillan, Wellington local and Ghostlight producer, brings her powerhouse vocal abilities and nuanced storytelling to the role of a woman finding her own place in the world, Jenna from Waitress.

Caitlin Penrose, a recent Te Auaha graduate, weaves her own stories into the role of the hard, misunderstood outcast, Janice from Mean Girls.

Konrad Makisi performs with heart & soul the multi-faceted role of Evan, from Dear Evan Hansen. This show-stopping collective brings their varied and extensive experience from stage and screen to bring you a jam packed show of musical theatre delights. 

Each performer brings sparkles of truth, aroha and magic woven into these iconic shows and will leave you desperate for a morsel more!

What does the future of the theatre look like with COVID looming over us all? If these characters were in a COVID world, what would that look like? It’s musical theatre as you know and love, born out of socially distanced rehearsals, zooms, and plans, full of twists and turns that promises to leave you gagging for more. 

Full of showstopping bangers, belters, tear jerkers and sing-alongs, be sure to catch the powerhouse cast of Just A Taste at the Gryphon this Fringe Festival season… rest assured a ‘Taste’ just won’t be enough! 

Gryphon Theatre, Ghuznee St, Te Aro, Wellington
10, 11, 12 March 2021

Music/songs were selected from:

The Book of Mormon
Lopez R, Parker R, Stone M

Miranda L M

Kinky Boots
Lauper C

Dear Evan Hansen
Pasek B, Paul J

Bareilles S

Mean Girls
Richmond J, Benjamin N

Konrad Makisi
Joe Mara
Kree McMillan
Jthan Morgan
Jess Old
Caitlin Penrose

Lighting design – Niamh Campbell-Ward
Lighting and sound Technician – Niamh Campbell-Ward
Musician – Hayden Taylor
Musical direction and arrangements – Joe Mara, Michael Nicholas Williams

‘Ghostlight Productions’ is made up of Jthan, Kree, Joe and Jess.
We collectively made decisions re musical staging, musical arrangements, set and costume etc

Theatre , Musical ,

1 hr

An absolute joy from beginning to end

Review by Brett Adam 11th Mar 2021

I have to confess that I have a love/hate relationship with musical theatre. I love the toe-tapping, emotionally uplifting, belt-them-to the-rafters power ballads and ensemble numbers but absolutely hate the often mawkish, twee narratives as well as the over/bad acting. Ghostlight Productions’ Just a Taste, however, has gone a long way to curing me of my aversion.

The ensemble of six incredibly talented singers – Konrad Makisi, Joe Mara, Kree McMillan, Jthan Morgan, Jess Old, Caitlin Penrose – and Hayden Taylor as their hard working accompanist, present a selection of songs from recent musical theatre hits including Hamilton, Waitress, Mean Girls, Dear Evan Hansen, The Book of Mormon and Kinky Boots.

There is not one weak link in the ensemble and each member gets a number of opportunities to display their awesome skills. We get to hear each actor’s unique vocal strength in solo and as well in beautifully blended ensemble numbers.

The intimate space of the Gryphon allows them to instantly form solid, meaningful connections with their very appreciative audience. Each actor fully inhabits the emotional world of their various characters overcoming the difficulty of presenting songs separated from their original dramatic context. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the musicals from which these songs are plucked. Each singer draws you into their world and interior emotional state with absolute, total commitment. They allow us to focus on the immediate experience of their character without having to understand the backstory or context of the song.

The show moves at a brisk pace and the songs have been ordered in a way that takes us from heart-wrenching sadness, through comic sassiness, to empowering, unbridled joy and back again in an all too brief hour. There is no attempt to link the songs thematically and the covid inspired set and bookending recordings are unnecessary but don’t distract from the overall experience.

Unfortunately, the lighting is a bit patchy which results in the singers sometimes performing in unintentional shadow. The occasionally unbalanced sound mix means that sometimes singers are overpowered by the keyboard, especially when the performers sing quietly or in their lower registers. There could also have been a bit more attention paid to their use of space and choreography as the singers, more often than not, simply stand centre stage and sing out – although again this does not affect the enjoyment of the show.

Overall Just a Taste is an absolute joy from beginning to end. If this is just a taste, then bring on the main course!


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