Te Papa: Soundings, Wellington

14/03/2018 - 18/03/2018

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland LIVE, Auckland

09/11/2017 - 09/12/2017

New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2018

Production Details


It is absolutely the Peter and the Wolf that you remember from your childhood, but it’s different. It’s not an orchestra, it’s an indie band. It’s not a forest, it’s Auckland’s vibrant CBD. It’s not horns, it’s electric guitar. Silo’s remix of this beloved orchestral fairy tale places Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in the here and now. Premiering at the Herald Theatre from November 9 – December 10.

“Peter’s not supposed to leave his grandfather’s house. There’s a wolf lurking outside, and it’s not safe. But Peter can’t stay inside forever and when he finally adventures out into the surrounding park, it’s not long before the wolf appears.”

In Silo Theatre’s electric reimagining of Sergei Prokofiev’s classic tale, Silo Artistic Director Sophie Roberts (The Book of Everything, Boys Will Be Boys) and composer Leon Radojkovic (Amadeus, BREL, Boys Will Be Boys) bring together a glittering musical adaptation with a six-piece band, puppetry and live videography.

From David Bowie to Dame Edna Everage, Peter and the Wolf (not to be confused with The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Red Riding Hood) has seen an eclectic line-up of narrators throughout its celebrated history. In this original production, a rotating cast of Silo favs and well-known local personalities will narrate a performance each. Confirmed narrators include Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, Moana star Rachel House and other industry luminaries – Michael Hurst, Rima Te Wiata, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Nathaniel Lees and Thomas Sainsbury. From popular broadcasters to local comedic geniuses, watch this space for further announcements in the coming weeks. 

The design team is also a mixture of Silo favourites and new faces. With lighting design from Rachel Marlow (Boys Will Be Boys), set design from Dan Williams (Hudson and Halls Live!) and puppets from NZ puppet master Jon Coddington (mastermind behind the worldwide sellout Fringe hit Puppet Fiction), making his Silo design debut. The company is also working with students from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and Massey University to complete the intricate and stunning design for the world of the show.

Director Sophie Roberts describes how the story has been updated for Auckland now: “The story is set today and begins with our Peter moving from Russia to Westmere to live with his Grandfather where he struggles to fit in and make new friends. When a wolf escapes from the Zoo, Peter sees an opportunity to become a hero and joins forces with a motley crew of animals. Their adventure to capture the wolf takes them across Auckland City at night.”

Travel deep into the woods, vanquish your fear, and don’t look behind you. Peter and the Wolf promises to be the magical, mixed media, spectacle that will delight both young and old.

*Recommended for ages 7 and up, the wolf may be a little scary for some 🙂

Herald Theatre, Auckland Live
Thursday November 9 – Saturday December 9.
Tuesday & Wednesday@ 6 pm; Thursday – Saturday @ 7pm and Sunday @ 4pm.
Matinee: 18 & 25 November at 2pm.
Book at Ticketmaster

More info at  

New Zealand Festival 2018

Soundings Theatre, Te Papa
Wed 14 – Sun 18 March 2018
(see times below)
Recommended for ages 5+

The performance on Thur 15 Mar at 11am will be a relaxed performance. To book for this show, please call the Festival on 04 912 0411 or email

Wednesday 14 March, 06:00pm: Nathaniel Lees
Thursday 15 March, 11:00am: Shelagh Magadza
Friday 16 March, 11:00am: Dame Kate Harcourt
Saturday 17 March, 11:00am: Mayor Justin Lester
Saturday 17 March, 06:00pm: Kim Hill
Sunday 18 March, 11:00am: Jo Randerson 

Theatre , Music , Family ,

55 mins

Modern puppet show tells simple story in a complex way

Review by Ewen Coleman 22nd Mar 2018

An increasing trend these days is the way traditional stories are being updated and adapted with modern settings for modern audiences and Silo Theatre’s Peter and the Wolf is no exception.

This well-known “symphonic fairy tale for children”, written by Sergei Prokofiev in the 1930s, has been very cleverly rearranged with an Auckland setting by Sophie Roberts (who also directs) and Leon Radojkovic who also adapted the music. [more


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Mystery and magical adventure in full visual and aural splendour

Review by Jo Hodgson 16th Mar 2018

Mystery and magical adventure in full visual and aural splendour

Peter and the Wolf is a timeless classic for all ages, all of which are represented in the capacity audience at Soundings Theatre at this opening night festival performance.

Prokofiev’s story and composition from 1936, which was originally written to teach children about the instruments of the orchestra, has seen many incarnations over the years. A whole host of featured narrators have brought their own flare and flavour to this familiar story and sometimes the stylistic genre has been adapted, from classical to rock or jazz for example.

Performances in this Wellington season will see a range of known Wellingtonians from the mayor, to radio hosts and theatre personalities. Tonight veteran actor and director Nathaniel Lees takes the podium.

Silo Theatre’s creative team, director Sophie Roberts and music director Leon Radojkovic have masterfully adapted the story, setting it in urban Auckland after Peter has travelled from Russia to live with his Grandfather.

The story takes us deeper, learning more of the protagonist’s character as he struggles to settle into his new environment, school and making friends. This relocation makes him more relatable and facing challenges we can empathise with (rather than those that occur in the distant and romanticised isolation of deepest Russia).

It is not change for the sake of change though and there is enough that stays true, with the familiar musical themes and motifs depicting a lonely boy and his animal friends who become heroes when they capture and save a wolf, much to the chagrin of his Grandfather.

The magic of this production is in the method of delivery as, depending on where we look, we are either watching a fully produced movie story, or we are on set watching the making process seamlessly unfold in front of our eyes: an interesting juxtaposition.

Three puppeteers (Rachel Baker, Jon Coddington, Ralph McCubbin Howell) manipulate Jon Coddington’s exquisitely made marionette puppets on a miniature sized stage.

The puppeteers being in full view enhances the puppets characterisation through their expressions and physical theatre.

A static camera films this ‘on stage’ action while live videographer (Julie Zhu) films a collection of incredibly detailed scenic model boxes by designer Daniel Williams, that frame the mid stage, with Rachel Marlow’s inspired lighting illuminating each individual set in miniature too.

Everything is artfully choreographed – from the timing of the narration and action with the musical score to the changing backdrops and set props transforming the story locations – to draw out the mystery and magical adventure in full visual and aural splendour.

Lighting and AV operator Stephen Paul mixes all this in real time to the larger screen above as the narrator and a band of six instrumental players bring this story and the characters’ personalities to life using a richly dense score with modern timbres of electric violin (Peter), saxophone (Bird), keyboard (Duck), guitar (Wolf), bass guitar (Grandfather) and vibraphone (Cat).

The wolf’s air of menacing presence throughout is pitch perfect, giving the younger members of the audiences time to prepare for the full reveal – a spectacular moment both theatrically and artistically. And so there is no spill-over fear after the show, there is the chance to touch and interact with the puppets afterwards.

As a lover of this story for over forty years, it is wonderful to share this new version with my family. Silo Theatre have brought it up to the modern era without diminishing the simplicity of a story of the curious and risk-taking nature of the child in all of us.  


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Kiwi Ingenuity

Review by Rachael Longshaw-Park 21st Nov 2017

Silo Theatre have taken a step in a new direction with Peter and the Wolf, throwing aside the tried and tested and really allowing the imaginations of their designers to flourish in this delightful piece of children’s theatre.

Peter and the Wolf is a musical fairy tale written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, originally intended to teach young children about the instruments in an orchestra. Each character has its own musical instrument so the children could follow the narrative. This aspect still remains in the form of a six-piece band, but Silo have developed the music into a forty-five minute visual spectacle using live animation and puppetry. The story echoes the original but this time is set in our very own Auckland city. [More]


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A wonderful, enchanting show

Review by Leigh Sykes 11th Nov 2017

Described as an “electric reimagining of Sergei Prokofiev’s beloved musical fairy tale”, this adaptation by Sophie Roberts and Leon Radojkovic brings together music, narration, puppetry and live videography to create a contemporary and utterly captivating take on what we think is a well-known story.

All the expected elements of the story are in place but they are now presented with a fresh perspective that makes this show resonate delightfully with the audience. There is plenty to appeal to the mix of adults and children in attendance, and all ages respond enthusiastically to the performance. 

Originally written for an orchestra, Radojkovic has arranged the music for a smaller band, with some radically different instrumentation. The instruments that play the various characters in the story have been updated in much the same way as the rest of the story has. Instead of a flute or a clarinet, we now have an electric guitar and a drum kit. This modern take on the music fits perfectly with the modern take on the story. 

This version of the story begins in Russia and sees Peter travel from there to Auckland, where he lives with his grumpy grandfather and has no friends. However this is not the Auckland that is familiar to the audience. Roberts and the design team of Dan Williams (sets) and Rachel Marlow (lights) have created a new version of Auckland that is recognisable yet strange; slightly scary yet magical.

The most magical element of the show is the way the performance is created live. It is a captivating experience to see what is essentially an animated movie created live in front of your eyes. The joy of seeing the elements brought together to create the images projected on the big screen is immense. It means there is always something intriguing to look at, as we marvel at the creative way the different elements are used.

The detail in the miniature sets is astonishing and make a powerful impact on the screen, but I am also intrigued by the way that realistic and potent effects are created using seemingly mundane objects such as torches. I also love watching the slick moves of the trio of puppeteers, who are always in sync and always calm and focused. 

Rachel Baker, Rebekah Head and Ralph McCubbin Howell are a well-oiled machine, bringing vitality and individuality to the wonderful array of puppets created by Jon Coddington. Although we can see exactly how the puppets are being manipulated, the effect that we see on screen suggests a reality in the characters that is engaging and charming. It is often a surreal experience to be able to see all the elements in isolation as well as the effect of their being combined.

This performance is narrated by Tom Sainsbury (there will be a rotating cast of narrators for the future performances), who captures the blend of knowing references and delight perfectly.

If this show were a movie, it would be Shrek, in the way that it effortlessly offers something delicious to all sections of the audience. Adults enjoy the knowing references to some of the more ‘interesting’ areas and characteristics of Auckland, while appreciating the message of overcoming loneliness in a big city. Children are enchanted by the puppetry and the story of Peter’s travels through a sometimes scary landscape, as he gradually makes the friends that he longs for at the beginning of the story.

My 11-year old companion is emphatic when asked how many ‘thumbs up’ he would give the show: “Two thumbs up and two toes as well.” I agree with him. This is a wonderful, enchanting show that entertains adults and children alike, so I strongly encourage you to go and see it. I imagine that each narrator will bring something different to the performance so you may want to go more than once. It is a real treat to see something that has such appeal for such a wide audience. This may be a short show, but it packs a real punch, so don’t miss it! 


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