Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

13/02/2012 - 18/02/2012

BATS Theatre, Wellington

04/09/2012 - 15/09/2012

Production Details

“A family forged, even in the darkest of places.”

Music and Me, a riveting new work by Manurewa-based emerging playwright Victoria Schmidt will be having its world premiere at the Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku in February.

Music and Me is raw and poetic, but it is also funny, with fantastic lines and guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings.

The story tells of the harsh realities of four individuals, struggling to survive in a forgotten world of prostitution, mental illness, substance abuse, depression and risking all for a dream that is in the eye of the beholder.

“The play highlights universal themes through deep, heartfelt and outspoken characters,” explainsVictoria. “On the whole, this story is about survival, broken hope, and the importance of friendship.”

New Zealand-born and of Samoan background, Victoriais an acting graduate of the UNITEC School of Performing Screen Arts. She has been seen in numerous theatre productions, most recently in The Factory by Kila Kokonut Krew in 2011. However, Music and Me is her first, full-length, professionally produced play.

“This show is about creating awareness of every day people, surviving in the only way they know how,” she says.

Directed by Asalemo Tofete (Toi Whakaari acting graduate, The Minister’s Son, Angels in America Part I: Millenium Approaches, Polyzygotic, The Factory). The production features some ofNew Zealand’s best seasoned and upcoming Pacific talent. The cast includes Iaheto Ah Hi (Sione’s Wedding, The Market, Matariki, Running With the Bulls,Tautai. Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business), Toi Whakaari acting graduate Natano Keni (Privates VS Ninjas, Once Were Samoans), the playwright Victoria Schmidt (Sione’s Wedding, Running With The Bulls, Othello Polynesia, Tautai, The Factory) and recent Pacific Institute of Performing Arts graduate and choreographer Amanaki Lelei Prescott-Faletua (Mixed Nuts, Pollyhood in Mumuland, VOGUE).

A resident ofManurewa,Victoriasays it was important to set the play inSouth Auckland, to support the story and to reflect our unique society that is full of colourful characters.

Funded with the support of the Auckland Council Creative New Zealand Communities Scheme, *Music and Me* will be on show at the Mangere Arts Centre from for a five-night season, opening on Tuesday 14 February.

Music and Me by Victoria Schmidt

14- 18 February 2012, 8pm

Tickets: General Admission $20, Concession $15

Venue: Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku,Corner Bader DriveandOrly Avenue, Mangere,Auckland

Phone: 09 262 5789


 Tickets available from the centre or from 

About the Show:

Music and Me follows the lives and friendships of four outcasts living on the same poverty-stricken street – an old man sinking deeper into dementia, a male hustler-addict always looking to make a quick buck, a street poet who finds solace in gracing the public with her passion for rhyme, and a business-minded drag queen who runs the local beauty parlour.

This is a story that reveals how music can soothe a troubled mind and the desperate measures taken to be able to survive in a forgotten world. 

Music and Me Wellington season

Tuesday Sept 4th – Saturday Sept 15th, 6.30pm
BATS Theatre
1 Kent Terrace

Bookings call: 8024176 email:  

Iaheto Ah Hi
Natano Keni
Victoria Schmidt
Amanaki Lelei Prescott-Faletua 

Wellington cast:
Iaheto Ah Hi
Asalemo Tofete
Amanaki Prescott-Faletau
Suivai Autagavaia 

Where most fear to tread

Review by Lynn Freeman 21st Sep 2012

“Living in this city is a curse”, this city being South Auckland in Victoria Schmidt’s play about four friends, all damaged and all trapped by poverty, illness and/or addictions.

Iaheto Ah Hi plays a desperate male prostitute, perpetual liar and lousy excuse for a friend to the other three. It’s a hellish role to take on but he hits the mark during his character’s monologue which explains the tragic events that have shaped him.

Schmidt possibly wrote her role for herself, she certainly fits it like a glove, as a good-hearted young female street poet/ rapper trying to earn enough to support herself and her wheelchair-bound friend, Mr Jenkins. Mr Jee has dementia and keeps waiting for his daughter to return, though he’s constantly told she never will, and Natano Keni plays the part with just the right amount of pathos mixed with attitude. Amanaki Lelei Prescott-Faletau is wonderfully assured and OTT as the flamboyant but hard-bitten transvestite salon owner, Deshanel.

Asalemo Tofete’s direction is solid, if a little awkward at times, but that is probably down to issues with the script from this young and unquestionably talented young writer.

Music and Me takes a long time to gain momentum but when it does, and as the characters’ back stories are painfully revealed, the production comes into its own. It will make you feel uncomfortable, taking you onto the tough streets of South Auckland where most of us would fear to tread in real life. 


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Raw edge in tale of four underdogs

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 08th Sep 2012

It’s not often that we get to see a theatre group from South Auckland performing in Wellington. Especially with a production about marginalised people from that area who, through music and friendship, are trying to make something of their existence.

And while the situations portrayed in Music and Me by Victoria Schmidt, currently playing early evenings at BATS, are not new, the Pacific Island flavour of the play and production is quite unique.

Both the writing and the production have a raw, unrefined edge and although not without faults the honesty and sincerity that the performers bring to the piece makes for interesting theatre.

Each of the four characters are marginalised and use anything at their deposal, thieving being at the top of the list, to survive. Yet somehow they do and music is a major part of helping them get through each day.

There is Mr J (Asalemo Tofete), holed up in a boarding house, wheelchair bound and suffering from dementia, that everyone gravitates to for advice.  These include Ricky (Iaheto Ah Hi), a young lad on the game to make a few bucks and Alex (Victoria Schmidt) rapping on the kerb to her own beat to pass away the time.  Down the street in her own hair salon is transsexual Deshanel (Amanaki Lelei Prescott-Faletau), the most together of the group, grooving to Madonna but with family problems nevertheless. 

How the four interconnect and interact with eventual dire consequences is the essence of the play which although initially the various strands appear too disconnected and disjoined they do eventually come together reasonably well. 

And although the Pacific Island idiom is not always easy to follow, not helped by inarticulate delivery of lines at times, the coming together of the story at the end is clearly brought out.

Of particular note is the heart wrenching tale of Iaheto Ah Hi’s Ricky, telling how he was left to bring up his younger brother on the streets of South Auckland and, in complete contrast, Amanaki Lelei Prescott-Faletau’s delightful rendition of salon owner Deshanel who has some of the choicest lines in the play, delivered with just the right amount of put-down.  


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Great potential undercut by avoidable technical elements

Review by Uther Dean 06th Sep 2012

Victoria Schmidt’s debut as a playwright, Music and Me, tells the interconnecting stories of four people on the down and out in South Auckland.

There’s the homeless thief and street poet (Schmidt), the slowly dementing almost-father-figure (Asalemo Tofete, who also directs), the jittery drug addict and occasional male prostitute (Iaheto Ah Hi), and bitchy hairdresser desperately trying to get their business off the ground (Amanaki Prescott-Faletau). These four societal loose-ends are tied together with an unexpected kinship. But as things grow more desperate for them all, they begin to turn on each other, setting the path towards a dark, bleak climax.

This play quickly establishes, with a metronomic montage of the characters day-to-day lives and interactions, that its focus is not on plot but on the relationships between its players. So it is frustrating that a lot of new information about those relationships and the characters true views of each other and their motivations is left unrevealed until the very end. This denies the audience the catharsis of discovering how one character will react when they learn of the true actions of another.

The joy of a story focusing on character is watching those characters change or be put under pressure, and that joy is simply too delayed in this play to be in any way satisfying. Schmidt’s strongest writing is in these moments of character revelation and it is a pity that those moments are ill-placed to have a worthwhile effect on the show as a whole.

Music and Me is, at its best, a refreshingly gritty look at what life is like for the forgotten and down-trodden in South Auckland that crackles with witty one-liners. It is sad, however, that in a production strewn with tragedy, the greatest tragedy is how little it is at its best. What could be a dense and dark look at the lives lived outside of the mainstream is just too ridden with errors and issues to be as interesting, complex or even comprehensible as it could be.

The cast, while all demonstrating moments of the profound and sublime in their performances, have all made the classic BATS mistake of underestimating the depth of the performance space so often important plot points and even establishing relationship moments are lost to garbled or inaudible (even to this reviewer sitting in the second row) dialogue. That the otherwise effective and atmospheric soundscape and score is a few notches too loud only exacerbates this problem as does the actors’ more than occasional inability to find their lights.

It should also be noted that the decision to put two of the characters in caps throughout – so that whole scenes pass with the faces totally in shadow, making it much harder to connect with the character or performance – is one that seems to have been taken far too lightly. 

That all being said, there is a lot to like about Music and Me. The cast, technical performance issues aside, all do commendable jobs. They manage to operate very well as an ensemble, which is vital with a text such as this where one performance could easily overshadow the others to the play’s detriment.

Schmidt is a very promising playwright with a remarkable ear for dialogue, and Music and Me is a text laden with an equal amount of promise. It strikes me that it simply needs another few drafts and a suitably whip-cracking dramaturg to shape it into the solid staple of the Kiwi stage it could be.

Music and Me is a show that could have been good, great even, but has sadly died a death of a thousand cuts. No single issue is big enough to ruin the whole show, and the talent on display is tangible and proven, but the sheer number of magic-breaking irritants and annoyances quickly becomes too great to ignore.

This reviewer would like to believe that these are all perhaps just symptoms of a shaky opening night, as the reviews of the Auckland season would seem to imply, but too many of them seemed too engrained in the show to be due to a ‘bad night’.

If anything, Music and Me is a cautionary tale how even a group of proven and charismatic practitioners can still severely undercut their work if they ignore some of the basic technical elements of the stage. 


Editor September 21st, 2012

Thanks for the nudge - the Capital Times review has now been properly added. 

Auckland Anon September 20th, 2012 

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Music, Me and Mayhem!

Review by Sharu Delilkan 15th Feb 2012

For Valentine’s Day evening, Victoria Schmidt’s brand new work Music and Me was an interesting choice, to say the least. Particularly since it was billed as telling the harsh realities of four individuals, struggling to survive in a forgotten world of prostitution, mental illness, substance abuse, depression [and you’ll have to come along to find out the rest].

But tell four stories it definitely did, cleverly interwoven and utilising the hilarious interplay between the characters. [More


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Courageous play a thought-provoking masterpiece

Review by Nick Bakulich 15th Feb 2012

Victoria Schmidt’s Music and Me captures the inside lives of people society often tends to forget or chooses to neglect. Their lives, as played out by a talented cast, have been the result of family neglect or family dysfunction. The director, Asalemo Tofete, describes them as “a family forged, even in the darkest places” and sees them perfectly portrayed on stage. 

The ‘family’ is made up of an interesting bunch. The salon owner, who has her own family battles, seems to be by far the one who has something going for her. The rest are not only battling to get ahead but their options are limited given their dark histories; in one case a dark history dealt a cruel blow at the hand of others.

The one person who may offer a parent figure in amongst their disorder is not only physically challenged but often forgetful: a warm generous character played by Sione’s 2 star Iaheto Ah Hi. Look out for debutant Amanaki Lelei Prescott-Faletau who plays flamboyant Salon owner Deshanel: she looks extremely comfortable and a natural for the stage.

Be prepared to not be entertained but to leave challenged, as I was, by a thought-provoking masterpiece that deserves a considered response to the social questions it raises. Music and Me gives us a window into the lives of those we know little about because that’s how the world has partly chosen it for them.

A courageous play that brings the hard lives of the desperate and forgotten to the stage.


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