Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

02/01/2019 - 12/01/2019

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

17/11/2018 - 23/12/2018

Production Details

Written by Paul Jenden



A poor widow woman, Mrs Miller and her son Arthur live in a run-down shack in Aro Valley and dream of winning the Big Wednesday Lotto and moving to posh Karori. Arthur finds he has been left a cat in his father’s will. He and his mother are deeply disappointed but it turns out that the cat happens to be the wily, clever Puss in Boots!!!

Follow their exciting adventures as they set out to seek riches and come across a down-on-his-luck King, his feisty daughter and some marauding trolls!

Will they find fortune? Will they outwit the wicked trolls who want to destroy wonderful Wellington? Will they live happily ever after?

Meet these iconic characters as they sing and dance their way through this madcap, delightful fairy tale cleverly set in the present-day Capital, Wellington.

A stunning cast, Natasha McAllister, Jeff Kingston-Brown, Simon Leary, Carrie Green, Jonathan Morgan, Ben Emerson together with all-time favourite Gavin Rutherford as the Dame will provide children and adults alike with a night of great entertainment.

There will be lots of opportunity to help the ‘goodies’ along the way and make sure they know when danger approaches…the trolls!

Director, Susan Wilson and Musical Director, Michael Nicholas Williams combine forces once again to bring you this annual, eagerly awaited Circa Pantomime. Susan has been the director of all the Circa Pantomimes since their inception at Circa Theatre thirteen years ago and together with music maestro Michael Nicholas Williams they are an outstanding team. With plenty of topical jokes and toe tapping tunes, they are delighted to bring you this year’s Panto.

“We go to the Panto every year and always know that we are going to have a good time and smile and smile”

If Your Boots Are Made For Walkin’ then walk right along to Circa to this year’s Panto

Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street Wellington
17 Nov – 23 Decemer 2018
& 2-12 January 2019
Tues To Sat 6.30, Sun 4pm
Extra Matinees Sat 8, 15, 22 Dec at 2pm
Bookings: Circa Theatre; 04 801 7992; www.circa.co.nz

Presented By Arrangement With Playmarket 

Gavin Rutherford as Camilla Miller
Simon Leary as King Justin /Citizen
Natasha McAllister as Princess Martha /Citizen
Jeff Kingsford-Brown as Mr Brown Troll /Citizen
Jonathan Morgan as Puss in Boots /Citizen
Carrie Green as Ms Green Troll /Citizen
Ben Emerson as Arthur Miller /Citizen

Director – Susan Wilson 
Musical Arranger/Director – Michael Nicholas Williams 
Set Designer – Lisa Maule 
Costumes – Sheila Horton 
Lighting Designer – Marcus McShane 
Choreographer – Leigh Evans

Director – Susan Wilson
Musical Arranger/Director – Michael Nicholas Williams
Set Designer – Lisa Maule
Costumes – Sheila Horton
Lighting Designer – Marcus McShane
Choreographer – Leigh Evans

Theatre , Musical , Family , Pantomime ,

A great night of fun and laughs for all ages

Review by Sharron Pardoe 23rd Nov 2018

There were giggles and laughter as we entered Circa Theatre for the opening night of Puss in Boots – The Pantomime.

A diverse audience of adults and children brought a lovely buzz of expectation and we weren’t disappointed. [More


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Ideal family fare

Review by John Smythe 18th Nov 2018

Wonderful Wellington’s absolute positivity is being sabotaged by horrible Trolls with magical powers, the Citizens don’t want to take it anymore – but who will rid the city of these pests?  

Meanwhile a poor lonely widow woman, Camilla Miller, is keen to solve her pressing problem of pennilessness by marrying her parkour-loving son Arthur (yes: Arthur Miller but not the famous but dead one) off to a rich ‘princess’. And King Justin, who keeps confusing reality with the classic fairy stories, is secretly broke too, so he wants to marry his martial arts-loving daughter Martha off to a rich ‘prince’.

Arthur’s befriending of Puss could, on the face of it, solve the Troll problem except he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat and what’s more Gareth Morgan has managed to get cats banned in Wellington so he’s an illegal resident. How, then, could this possibly go right?

Although we know – because hey, it’s panto – it will all work out in the end, the script is classically structured with obstacles aplenty to generate drama, comedy and of course lots of songs to help us suspend our disbelief.

Paul Jenden wrote Puss in Boots in 2012, before his untimely death from cancer in October the following year. A great lover of pantomime, he had already written the lyrics to Michael Nicholas Williams’ music for Roger Hall’s Cinderella (2006),Jack and the Beanstalk (2007), Red Riding Hood (2008), Dick Whittington and his Cat (2009), Robin Hood (2010), Aladdin (2011) and a revampedCinderella (2012). He had also designed and performed in most of them, plus (see below).* This production is staged in memory of Paul Jenden.

It was in January 2013 that Gareth Morgan made his infamous anti-cat call, so maybe Jenden added that element, butCelia Wade-Brown was the incumbent Mayor (2010-2016) and quite a few other things have changed since then too.

“Pantos are always a collaborative process,” notes Susan Wilson (director of all 13 Circa pantomimes so far). “My heartfelt thanks go to the cast and our musical maestro Michael for bringing it up to the present day with inspirational ideas for highlighting the contemporary trends and political happenings in Wellington 2018.” 

Gavin Rutherford’s Camilla Miller totally owns the role and the stage, ensuring we have as much of a ball as she is having, while Simon Leary is delightfully ‘away with the fairy tales’ as King Justin. Both are relatively old hands at the genre and they play the old tropes at just the right comedic level.

As the ‘romantic leads’, Ben Emerson’s carefree Arthur and Natasha McAllister’s stroppy Martha (yes: Arthur and Martha) win our hearts first, by being true to themselves and resisting their self-interested parents’ ambitions for them, before finally seeing each other for what they truly are.

And that is in spite of the well-intentioned but out-of-date, romance-wise, Puss, winningly played as a diva with a heart of marshmallow by Jonathan Morgan. It’s Puss who fabricates the ‘Marquis of Makara’ myth, which arguably tunes into this – hopefully just as temporary – ‘post truth’ era.

The despicable Trolls, Mr Green and Mr Brown, are played respectively and appropriately disrespectfully by Carrie Green and Jeff Kingsford-Brown. Even the mere mention of them, let alone their entrances, are heralded with apposite musical stings by the one-man-band and musical director/arrangerMichael Nicholas Williams, who accompanies most of the songs with his lively fingers and, sometimes, his vocal chords.

Most of the songs are contemporary pop, with some ingenious mashups, a couple of originals and a nod to us oldies with a hark-back to a 1970s hit. Everyone sings very well, solo and ensemble, and they execute Leigh Evans’ choreography with style and panache. A special crowd favourite is the ‘cups’ sequence accomplished with flair by King Justin and Martha while singing ‘When I’m Gone’ (made famous by Anna Kendrick in the film Pitch Perfect).

Sheila Horton’s costumes brilliantly blend the new and the old, exemplified by the hint of steampunk in the Troll’s headwear. It all plays out fluently on Lisa Maul’s greenly botanical set design, augmented with her AV projections and lit by Marcus McShane. Crucial physical adjustments are efficiently carried out by stage manager Eric Gardiner: another crowd favourite on opening night  

While much of the humour is for adults – some of it very ‘adult’ and hopefully well over the heads of the children – the basic plot is highly accessible to all ages and when the kids are asked to come on to the stage and help out, they don’t have to be asked twice: the surge is tidal. In my observation, if my young companions are anything to go by, they are much more engaged by the action that follows once they are back in their seats.

The pendant that endows the Trolls with their magical powers is called a MacGuffin and (spoiler alert?) it’s turned against them – or, as most people would see it, in their favour. Much mirth and aroha greets the naming of those who are deemed to be Wellington’s antitheses of a Troll.

Puss in Boots honours Circa’s well established panto tradition with alacrity. Its topicality and the vibrancy of is cast and crew keeps it fresh, transcending the ‘colour-by-numbers’ feel it could lapse into with a less committed company. It is ideal family fare, an excellent introduction to the magic of live theatre and a welcome antidote to the screen addiction to which the young can so easily succumb.  

*Paul Jenden’s other Circa shows include the world-class ‘poperas’ he wrote, designed and directed, with Gareth Farr’s music: TROY The Musical, MONARCHY The Musical, ROME The Musical, The NERO Show and his cancer-confronting ‘swansong’, C – A Musical


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