Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

15/11/2014 - 13/12/2014

Production Details

Join this all-star cast featuring actors from Shortland Street, Jono and Ben at Ten, Outrageous Fortune and Hercules, as Dunedin becomes a city you will never forget.

Dunedin, six redundant mechanics, motorbikes, baths, electric guitars, an exotic dancer, drag queens, fighting, dancing, BBQ’s, backyards and beer. The stage is set for Fortune Theatre’s final show of the year, Ladies Night. This production promises to be the year’s funniest night out as these real kiwi blokes try to get to grips with the finer points of seduction, stripping and the perfect wax job. Barry and the boys, boldly going where no bloke bloody wants to go!

Featuring: Stephen Butterworth, Ashley Hawkes, Toby Leach, Ross McKellar, Paul Metreyeon, Colin Spicer, Sara Georgie Tunoka and Siale Tunoka 

Ladies Night celebrates our roots: Dunedin, New Zealand with the sounds of the 80s and 90s and fashion to match.

Ladies Nightfeatures the incredibly talented and sexy Ashley Hawkes, balletic Stephen Butterworth, revved up Ross McKellar, tenacious Toby Leach, spicy Colin Spicer, fashion icon Paul Metreyeon, and the delightful Sara Georgie Tunoka, appearing alongside (her real-life husband) sizzling Siale Tunoka.

Directed by Lara Macgregor on an incredible “I can’t believe they are really doing that!” set by Peter King – a suburban ‘man space’ that transforms into the theatre of a niteclub. Add in all your favourite 80s, 90s and current music selected by Matthew Morgan, costumes by Maryanne Wright-Smyth (that look best when dumped on the floor) and a grand finale so spectacular that it could only be described as a cross between the Olympic opening ceremony, the Rugby World Cup, Riverdance and a night at Showgirls!!

Ladies Nighthas been playing almost continually since its premiere at the Mercury Theatre, Auckland, in 1987. Translated into seven languages, it has an on-going life in NZ, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina, England, Germany, Scandinavia, Finland and Canada. In 2001 the French production won the Moliere prize for the best stage comedy of the year.

A comedy about male attitudes towards sex, females and personal grooming, Ladies Night is as relevant now as it was when it first hit the boards. Alas, in spite of the best efforts of New Zealand women, the typical Kiwi male still appears to be as up-tight, repressed and ignorant as ever! 

Production Dates:  15 November – 13 December, 2014
Venue:  Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin
Performances:  Tuesday, 6.00pm, Wednesday-Saturday, 7.30pm, Sunday, 4.00pm
(no show Monday) 
Tickets:  Early bird special (first 5 shows) $34, Adults $42, Senior Citizens $34, Members $32, Tertiary Students $20, High School Students $15, Group discount (10+) $34
Bookings:  Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin 
Box Office 03 477 832303 477 8323 or visit


Lunchtime Bites / Thursday, 6 November, 2014 – 12.30 at the Dunedin Public Library, ground floor. The cast will perform an excerpt from Ladies Night with an opportunity to win tickets, followed by afternoon tea. This is a FREE event.

Ladies Night Opening Night / Saturday, 15 November, 2014 7.30pm, Fortune Theatre.

Members’ Briefing / Sunday, 16 November, 2014 – meet at the Fortune bar at 3.00pm and join Director Lara Macgregor for a lively informal chat about Ladies Night.

Forum / Tuesday, 18 November, 2014 join the cast and crew for an open question and answer session following the 6.00pm show.


Barry:  Ross McKellar
Gavin:  Paul Metreyeon
Wes:  Siale Tunoka
Craig:  Ashley Hawkes
Grahame:  Colin Spicer
Norman:  Toby Leach
Glenda:  Sara Georgie Tunoka
Bernie:  Stephen Butterworth

Choreographer:  Stephen Butterworth
Production Manager:  Lindsay Gordon
Set Designer:  Peter King
Set Build:  Peter King, Richard Clark
Lighting Designer:  Marty Roberts
Costume Designer:  Maryanne Wright-Smyth
Sound Designer:  Matthew Morgan
Stage Manager:  Monique Webster
Properties Master:  George Wallace 

Accidental extras stay clothed

Review by Barbara Frame 17th Nov 2014

Strong men were needed, and strong, uniformed men came running. “Get it off, get it off!” yelled some audience members. The strong men smiled, and kept running. 

None of this was scripted, the strong men were not actors, and the action was happening on the street outside the Fortune, about 15 minutes before the show would have ended if a smoke machine had not triggered an alarm that led to the theatre’s evacuation. 

Eventually the firemen, still clothed, were cheered back into their fire engine, and the audience took their seats for the final segment of Ladies Night

The play, by Stephen Sinclair and Anthony McCarten, is about a group of redundant mechanics who, despite a complete absence of aptitude and talent, decide that stripping just might be a viable career. A New Zealand classic, it was first performed in 1987, became an international success and has been performed in 60 countries and 13 languages.

It’s an undemanding, predictable comedy whose raunchy naughtiness provides endless opportunities for visual humour and audience involvement, and director Lara Macgregor entertainingly exploits these possibilities. 

The actors – Stephen Butterworth, Ashley Hawkes, Toby Leach, Ross McKellar, Paul Metreyeon, Will Spicer, Sara Georgie Tunoka and Siale Tunoka – ensure that the audience has a great time by having a great time themselves, their exuberance manifest in propelling their characters from unfitness and poor self-esteem to demanding dance routines and booming confidence. 

Brash, loud, funny and updated just enough to be at home in the 21st century, Ladies Night makes a fine choice for end-of-year frivolity. The men in Saturday night’s audience clearly enjoyed it every bit as much as the women. Even the unscheduled exodus into the chilly night didn’t seem to cool anyone’s enthusiasm, most people regarding the excitement as an unexpected bonus.


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Audience response verges on ecstatic

Review by Terry MacTavish 16th Nov 2014

As soon as the stage lights go up, the chiefly female audience is in full cry.  It is positively terrifying but no doubt about it, these ladies are hot on the trail of a fantastic evening and the pursuit never lets up.  

“What have we got to lose?  Only our self-respect,” say the wannabe foxes of Ladies Night as they struggle with the concept of getting their gear off for the pleasure of a few hundred wild women. The Fortune Theatre’s opening night audience clearly doesn’t give a damn about self-respect and its extraordinary, very vocal enthusiasm is a large part of the pleasure of the evening. 

This is the traditional light-and-frothy offering for the end-of-year Staff Xmas Party, and looks certain to be madly successful.  Fortune’s inspirational artistic director Lara Macgregor, whose last production was an absolutely superb interpretation of Pinter’s The Caretaker, disarmingly confesses, “It is going from the sublime to the ridiculous.” 

Playwright Antony McCarten himself confesses Ladies Night is “a shocking, appalling piece of art but it’s a million dollar idea,” while co-writer Stephen Sinclair says, “It’s a comedy that pokes fun at how repressed and inept males are, so women find it highly amusing… and because it’s in a theatre, a lot of women who wouldn’t go to see striptease in a club will go to see it.”*

No doubt at all about that, but Cinderella transformation stories are also appealing, especially in the holiday season and it is satisfying to watch the stereotypically uptight Kiwi lads – each struggling with redundancy, failing marriages or low self-esteem – gain the pizzazz they need to become strippers.  Nothing is as sexy as confidence after all; that cheeky bounce that says, “You know I’m irresistible.”  

Macgregor has ensured the excellent ensemble cast makes the guys likable enough to have the audience cheering their successes quite as much as laughing at their inadequacies.  After their abysmal early attempts at strip-teases, handicapped by their lack of understanding of what women really want, they are taken in hand by Glenda, a cynical exotic dancer who really needs the money. 

In this key role the delightful Sara Georgie Tunoka is feisty enough to dominate the blokes, now christened The Raging Rhinos.  She is teaching them as much about women as about stripping, and the audience clearly gets this.  Glenda’s attempts to get blokes to move their hips or sexily undress each other, for instance, have the ladies hooting, but the most prolonged laughter is a response to her provocative summation: “Most of the audience are married to blokes like this – they must have seen something in them, right?!” 

Stephen Butterworth does a nice comic turn as sleazy Bernie, the nightclub owner with a Latino flavour, and he has also choreographed the engaging dance routines.  Each of the Rhinos has at least two moments in the spotlight: a dreadful audition number to precede the comparatively professional one to come in the finale.  The first, of course, is usually the funnier, demanding quite as much skill and probably more raw courage. 

Toby Leach as nerdy, earnest Norman is quite unforgettably hilarious when auditioning as a big cat (they call him a tiger but the costume is leopard and the music The Lion Sleeps Tonight!).  Similarly, Paul Metreyeon as Gavin is both funny and excruciatingly embarrassing as (I think) Bacchus, God of Wine. 

In the all-stops-out finale the standard has shot up along with the Rhinos’ confidence and, with ample encouragement, they boldly invade the auditorium.  All are really rocking it now: Ross McKellar (Barry) makes an impressively macho entrance on a motor bike.  Siale Tunoka as Wes, who fondly imagines he can be incognito as a stripper, is a simply adorable masked Zorro. 

Ashley Hawkes, who plays Craig, is a beautifully suave mover, and consequently his scorching number as a Wild West cowboy is actually erotic.  Will Spicer is credible in the less rewarding role of mean Grahame, who pulls out of the Rhinos, providing a little necessary conflict and a boost to team spirit.

Matthew Morgan has created lively musical backing with some shocking songs of the 80s and 90s, while Martyn Roberts has wrought his usual lighting miracles, especially in the strings of lights that provide the backdrop for the final strip club routines. (I like the cactus for the cowboy!)

Peter King has designed a beautiful proscenium arch over a pleasantly understated set that serves a variety of scenes and adapts smoothly to the nightclub for the extended finale, and Maryanne Wright-Smyth brings a sense of fun to the outrageous removable costumes.  The same sauciness is apparent in the after show supper, courtesy of Otago Polytechnic Food Design: meaty buns feature. 

Intriguingly the programme follows up on themes that are too lightly touched on in the text, giving the results of a survey on what women do really want.  A resounding 80% said the most attractive quality in a man is sense of humour.  Sexiest stage character is the noble fireman, which is put to the test when first night gremlins strike and the red smoke billowing across the stage sets off the fire alarms.  When the engines roar up to the evacuated crowd giggling outside the theatre, the firemen are greeted with chants of “Get it off!” 

My hand-picked guest is a gorgeous Brazilian dancer, not unreasonably named after an archangel, who has been performing in the Octagon today for Camp Pride.  Eyes shining, he laughs and cheers along with the ladies, assuring me this is much better than he expected. “I thought it would just be all stripping.”  He finds every aspect very funny but is particularly thrilled with Craig’s cowboy routine.  When I ask if he has been inspired to consider stripping as a way of earning a living, he is emphatic: “Of course, yes! It really beats retail!” 

The play may not be high art, but there’s no denying the audience response verges on ecstatic. “If you’re not having a good time,” says the dazzling drag queen compere (can’t tell you the actor: completely unrecognisable!), “you’re faking it really well!” 

No fakery needed: Ladies Night is clearly set to enchant the holiday crowds.

*I think I saw Ladies Night at the Fortune over twenty years ago, but I definitely reviewed The Full Monty (efficientlydirected at the Mayfair by Chris Fennessy) a mere six years ago: a musical based on the film that bore a remarkable resemblance to the earlier Ladies Night. Royalties were never paid to McCarten and Sinclair, but nevertheless LN has been a huge worldwide commercial success for them. 


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