The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

14/01/2015 - 24/01/2015

Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland

16/04/2015 - 18/04/2015

Production Details

Mrs McGinty and The Bizarre Plant debuts at The Court in January 2015. 

Multi-award winning children’s author and illustrator Gavin Bishop wrote this classic Christchurch tale. Composer and writer, Luke Di Somma has adapted the story for the stage and written the music. 

The play tells the story of Mrs McGinty who plants a tiny seedling. The attention she receives when her garden is taken over by an enormous plant helps turn her from a grumpy, friendless loner into everyone’s favourite granny. 

“The show has an endearing charm that will appeal to young and old alike,” says Luke. “People who grew up in 1980s Christchurch will probably remember this classic New Zealand story with its references to Christchurch icons like the Edmonds factory and the Catholic cathedral.”  

14 – 24 January 2015 
11am and 1pm weekdays, 11am Saturdays. 
Parking is free in The Court Theatre carpark during show times. We have a special arrangement with CCC so you will not need to purchase parking tickets from the machine. 


Don’t miss this wonderful children’s story and visual feast at the Bruce Mason Centre for six shows only.

Come early and enjoy the treasure trail from 9.45am featuring the Imagination Playground, face painting and fun activities and crafts. 

Mrs McGinty and the Bizarre Plant plays
Live at Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna
Thursday 16 – Saturday 18 April, 2015
Two shows daily, 10.30am and 1.00pm

TICKETS: $15 per person*(service fees apply)
BOOKING THROUGH or 09 970 9700

Show duration: 60 minutes
Brought to you by Auckland Live

Lynda Milligan – Grandmother
Ben Freeth – Zach
Monique Clark – Zoe

Jason Te Mete – Director
Julian Southgate – Set Design
Luke Di Somma – Sound Design
Deborah Moor – Costume Design
Sean Hawkins – Lighting Design
Celia Mann - Stage Manager
tbc – Operator
Anneke Bester – Properties 
Mandy Perry – Production Manager 

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,


Stakes need to be higher

Review by Heidi North 17th Apr 2015

Adapting a well-loved children’s book is hard work, and Mrs McGinty And The Bizarre Plant doesn’t particularly lend itself to an adaptation, especially not a script using only three actors. The whole town is supposed to get behind this enormous plant and it’s the numbers that help make the story engaging. Thus three actors roaming a huge stage at the Bruce Mason Centre feels a little lonely. Despite this, the three actors are bursting with the requisite energy and character changes required for children’s theatre.

Zoe (Monique Clark) and Zach (Ben Freeth) are naughty kids in the school holidays with nothing to do: what better than to play various games involving destroying Mrs McGinty’s (Lynda Milligan) precious garden? 

Freewheeling on their bicycles, Zoe and Zack wreak havoc with glee. They are then amazed to discover that Mrs McGinty has a bizarre plant that grows and grows. Not only that but it talks too, and they make friends with the plant and Mrs McGinty before the plant is taken away by botanists as it’s growing too big for the garden. That’s OK though because they’re all friends now; Mrs McGinty’s got friends and she’s made her street famous so she’s no longer sad and lonely.

Except, in this version she was never really sad or lonely, and Zoe and Zack were never that naughty. And this is the weakness of the production. The actors have great energy and the songs are fun, but the narrative is not strong enough. There are so many themes here, and each one teased out would make a clear and compelling piece of theatre, but there is so much plot going on – trying to follow the book and adapt it into a theatre piece – that the stakes are never high enough to make this a satisfying show that stands alone from the book.

The humour aimed at the adults is groan-worthy rather than genuinely funny. Lots of local Christchurch jokes fell flat on the Auckland audience, too.

Overall, kids familiar with the book will likely enjoy Mrs McGinty And The Bizarre Plant (although the promotional material says its suitable for 5-12 year olds, I wouldn’t think children over 8 would be interested). But with a stronger script this could be so much more.


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Dynamic glee

Review by Lindsay Clark 14th Jan 2015

Surely nowhere is the sound of excited audience anticipation more enjoyable proof of the potency of live theatre than at children’s holiday productions. In this Di Somma /Bishop /Te Mete event, that comes across strongly, even before the house has experienced the vital musical and dramatic talents of an engaging cast, or responded to clever surprises from puppets and sound design.  

As the front screen glides away, Julian Southgate’s overlay of his set for the main bill, One Man Two Guv’nors, presents a charming cottage and garden scene, itself a nod at Gavin Bishop’s clean, unfussy book illustration, allowing high jinks on the forestage and a corner where the truly bizarre horticultural spectacular can be developed.  

Enter the catalyst pair of kids on holiday, reckless havoc makers, persecutors of Mrs McGinty and trouble for her lovingly tended plot. Zoe (Monique Clark) and Zach (Ben Freeth) charge their roles with dynamic glee so that although they are undoubtedly very naughty, they are great fun to watch.  

This, of course, we are charged to do by Lynda Milligan’s colourful Mrs McGinty. She has to cope with the aftermath of pirates, dinosaurs and Robin Hood before a trip to the market brings her the little plant in a pot which will change life for everyone. 

It brings a clutch of new roles too for the resourceful actors playing Zach and Zoe. They cover these between them, including the determinedly pushy and punning stall holders, a television presenter, the former mayor and botanical experts Maggie and Barry, before the play’s final message about plants and people both needing love is confirmed.

Music is a given as the Di Somma touch heightens action and character without ever holding back the drive of the show. 

Director and production team have clearly had a good deal of fun with this little gem. In addition to those already mentioned, Deborah Moor (costume), Sean Hawkins (lighting) and Danielle Ferreira (properties) have all added detail to delight.

A refreshing change from refabricated fairy stories, the production is bound to fulfil that pre-show buzz for many a lucky one and minder.


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