Hamilton Gardens, Italian Renaissance Garden, Hamilton

19/02/2014 - 21/02/2014

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

25/09/2012 - 29/09/2012

TV3 Crystal Palace, Tauranga

31/10/2013 - 31/10/2013

BATS Theatre, Wellington

15/05/2012 - 19/05/2012

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2012

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

More explosive than puberty, minus the stains. 

Miss Fletcher; motivator, inspirer, teacher.   

She’s down, she cares and she is ready to tackle the issues. The big issues. The world issues. 

All the issues. 

In her solo debut since graduating from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, Hayley Sproull presents Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues; a musical comedy with educational benefits at BATS Theatre 15th – 19th May at 8pm.

After losing its theatrical virginity in the 2011 Toi Whakaari Go Solo season, the rest of Wellington too, is ready. Now longer, stronger and wrong…er, Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues combines the classical piano training and observational humour of an emerging, valiant comedian. 

Sproull depicts a young teacher trying to inspire a worldly opinion (her worldly opinion) in a class of unsuspecting developing young men (the audience). In teaching them about the power of music, she hopes to give them a life long tool for self-expression. Featuring songs such as ‘Puberty Express’ and ‘Mukti’s Anthem’, Miss Fletcher employs her musical ability and relentless pursuit for connection to dig herself out of a lot of self-created holes; and the holes are deep. 

 As she continues to obliviously tread through topics such as racism, homosexuality and Zambia, her inappropriate escapades lead to a passionate crescendo, where the term ‘do as I say, not as I do’ could never be more fitting.

One woman; eyes closed, breathy, passionate. One piano; proud, tuned, supple. 

As part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2012

Dates: Tue 15 – Sat 19 May, 8pm
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Tickets: Adults $18, Conc. $14, Groups 6+ $15
Bookings:  802 4175 or www.bats.co.nz

For a full line up of performances, booking details & more information, visit www.comedyfestival.co.nz  

Dates & Times: 25-29 September 2012, 6.30pm 
Venue: Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland CBD 
Prices*: $14-$18 
*Booking fees may apply 
Book Now  

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

WHEN Thursday 31st October, 08:30pm
WHERE TV3 Crystal Palace
TICKETS $40 (TECT $32)
Booking fees apply
DURATION 80mins (plus interval) 

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2014

When:  Wednesday, 19 February – Friday, 21 February 2014 @ 9:30pm 
Where:  Italian Renaissance Garden
Wet Venue:  Pavilion 
Tickets:  $30 Adults | $25 Concession 
Genre:  Comedy 
Duration:  60 minutes

Theatre , Musical , Comedy ,


An excruciating delight

Review by Gail Pittaway 20th Feb 2014

For those of us who have had the peculiar pleasure of being secondary school teachers, elements of this musical comedy show seem more documentary than fantasy. For the start, there’s the teacher, Miss Fletcher, who is dressed carefully in neat feminine clothes that are just a bit whacky.

She’s so keen to establish rapport with the boys in the geography class she’s been sent in to relieve that she says “eh” at the end of every sentence, even sometimes every phrase. As in, “It’s hard being a teenager, eh, and it’s hard growing up, eh.”  All too horrifyingly accurate. 

Then there’s the class – the audience – who Miss Fletcher addresses directly with unflinching eye contact throughout. After rallying us into the session and offering a few detentions for latecomers, she leaves us with no confusion as to what our role is to be. Sure enough several of the audience in the front row, including some women, are addressed as boys in the class.

There’s Hugh who can’t hold a tune, she supposes aloud because of arrested development. Then there’s Stewart who has to be reprimanded several times for lack of attention and finally Michael who is far too sexually advanced for a boy of his age or a woman of hers, in a professional setting. She admires his Adam’s apple in particular. 

Hayley Sproull as Miss Fletcher confesses modestly that she knows nothing about geography but as she is the music teacher and someone who has explored much that life offers, she can give a life class, using music.  She goes ahead to sing several numbers about important life elements such as puberty and moustaches, using only an electric piano as her support and some simple, catchy light changes thrown in.

Each of the boys gets a verse in one of her numbers and she rhymes and puns relentlessly with breath-taking speed and clarity of delivery.

So we get a singing demonstration but are not all made to sing, to the relief of some of the class, in a hilarious exposition on the difference between a ‘real ‘ and a ‘fake’ voice, and assured that even those who can’t sing can develop a fake style.

Miss Fletcher then riskily asks for a favourite song from naughty front row prop Stewart, who suggests Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’. This is quite a challenge but she rises, soars, rolls and ululates to the occasion magnificently.

She ropes in musical assistants from the class with a mad finale in ‘Key changes for Africa’ and memorably gives an encore with an unfinished melody about the blues of being Miss Fletcher. 

While not strictly blues based in musical style, this production is an excruciating delight of bossy repartee and clever, funny lyrics delivered with some outstanding ‘fake’ singing. Give this teacher an apple but not an Adam’s apple.


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Traditional issues feel fresh and novel

Review by Aidan-B. Howard 26th Sep 2012

The headline starts “Miss Fletcher… motivator, inspirer, teacher. She’s down, she cares and she is ready to tackle the issues…”. Well, that’s an immediate challenge. This will be either very deep and didactic or very comical. Actually, it is the latter! 

Hayley Sproull is the Wellington Best Newcomer at the NZ International Comedy Festival, and this play, Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues, is not too far from being simply a one-person, one-hour stand-up comedy routine. But it is done superbly well, full of energy, humour and interaction.

The premise is simple. Miss Fletcher is a fill-in for a geography class. But not knowing too much about the subject, she decides to take the audience in a subject which she knows better: music. But let us not forget that she is not just our teacher, she is our friend, especially in our troubled years of adolescence. She wants to talk of the world, of racism, of homosexuality, of puberty, all of them absolutely ripe for the comic’s plucking!

Most regular theatre-goers will have heard of, even if they have not seen, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The current play is not so much a derivative of this as sometimes a homage to it; sometimes a casual parallel to it. But this homage also extends to The Creed, The Cranberries and Alien Ant Farm.

The “big issues” these are not – they are staple issues – but she makes us feel as though they are important. And this is accomplished through the never-faltering level of energy and vitality which Sproull displays. 

There is certainly a boldness and a courage when any performance relies on interaction with the audience. It may not always go the way which you had hoped, and one must be ever on the ready for anything. But this is where the comic truly shows their talent, and Hayley Sproull handles this remarkably well. On the downside, this very interaction tends to be with only the first two rows of the audience. Whereas physical interaction in itself is difficult beyond that, true, the casual observation of people further back would help us in row five to feel that we too are a part of the class. But this is a small quibble.

The show went surprisingly well because, despite the fact that the ‘issues’ were the traditional ones, they felt fresh and novel, and we felt influenced by them. To paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie, “Give me an audience in an impressionable state, and they are mine for life!” Well, I am sure that Ms Sproull has her audience… for life!

Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues is a very good laugh, and when we have a good laugh, we never forget!


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Miss Fletcher cries

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 21st May 2012

Hayley Sproull’s one woman show Miss Fletcher Sings The Blues is superb.  Sproull created the character of Miss Fletcher for her solo piece at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School last year and has now developed the piece further into an absorbing and highly professional one hour show.

The audience is a group of pubescent male students waiting for their Geography lesson.  However Miss Fletcher, Sproull, turns up instead and decides to help the class “express their feelings through music”. 

Her approach however does have dire consequences at the end, not to be revealed here, but not before she takes the class through a series of songs and connecting repartee that is original, innovative and very funny. 

Releasing internal demons through a song titled I Hate It, her love of men with moustaches in Moustache Paradise and Puberty Express along with a number of other songs all show how talented and versatile Sproull is. 

Not only does she create original and witty lyrics and original music along with the dialogue but she also has an incredible vocal range and ability at mimicry and using different accents to make this one high octane show not to be missed. 


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Don't miss this Miss!

Review by John Smythe 16th May 2012

There was rapture last night at Bats, as the lights went out on actor / composer / musician Hayley Sproull’s superb formidable creation, Miss Fletcher. Her hour of fretting and strutting upon the stage, and tinkling and pounding upon the piano, is as brilliantly performed as it is conceived.

A progression from her 20-minute Go Solo show last year, it doesn’t suffer in the least from being expanded. Indeed it suggests Not In That Context, Of Course (as it was then called) was always just a taster for Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues.  

The Music teacher at an all boys’ school, Miss Fletcher finds herself having to substitute for an indisposed Geography teacher, and we find ourselves cast as her adolescent, puberty-confronting pupils. The instant she commands “No laughing!” it starts and Sproull rides it like a pro, playing us with as much skill as she does the upright.

Her mission is to help us cope with good and bad feelings – with fear, anger and love, for example; with compulsions towards violence – in a trusting environment. And she does this with songs: “Instead of getting mental, I get musical!”  

‘Songs of Hate’ bookend the show, recalling an early Rodney Rude routine but delivered with much more finesse … Can I say that when she references her Brazilian in the first song and gets very down and dirty in the last? Well yes, because the way she counterpoints her majestic feminine style with her earthy lyrics generates a lot of the comedy.

She chooses moustaches as the inspiration for a love song – ‘tache rhymes with pash when ‘Searching for a Moustache Paradise’ – and revels in comedy-of-embarrassment with ‘Puberty’. Without over-explaining it, it has to be said her deliciously complex characterisation is comedy gold.

Her insistence that anyone who can talk can sing provokes a glorious pastiche of ‘Real Fake Singing’ which doubles as a game of ‘pick the artist she’s sending up’. The animated foyer-chat afterwards suggested this included Salonga’s Princess Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin, a heavily Irish Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’, ‘On My Own’ from Les Mis and some soul-vibrating Gospel singing. (Feel free to add your own thoughts on this via Comment, below.)  

Given the necessarily overblown accents employed in this delectable mash-up, I have to add that Sproull’s use of her own strong and naturally Kiwi voice in the Hate songs strengthens the comedy of the Fake songs no end: brava to that!

Miss Fletcher’s compassionate concern for little Mukti (sp? usually a girl’s name?), who has been subjected to bullying, leads to a rousing ‘Song For India’ and then another song for the Planet – ‘Key Changes For Africa’ (nothing to do with the PM, though) – which allows for some amusing instrumental audience participation.

Most musical entertainments end with a glorious upbeat resolution to all that has gone before. Here again Sproull’s Miss Fetcher subverts our expectations, delivering an ending I am not about to give away here, except to say it too is glorious in its own special way.  

Presumably the constraints of Bats’ fast-turnarounds in a Festival slot means she cannot indulge our desire for an encore. But when this plays elsewhere – as I am sure it will – an encore or two will need to be factored in.

Meanwhile Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues follows Bombs Away and Greg Ellis is Vance Fontaine in Command Performance to complete a fabulous Comedy Festival trilogy of musical genres at Bats. What a shame Downstage doesn’t have the wherewithal to mount a ‘best of the fest’ triple bill in the weeks ahead when it seems to have little scheduled.

If you missed the other two, don’t miss this one. If you saw one or both, be assured you’ll love this Miss.   


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