TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

09/09/2014 - 13/09/2014

Production Details

Short Sweet Song offers full-flavoured works in bite-sized time slots  

Short+Sweet Song 2014 swings into Auckland city with nine bite-sized musicals performed each night. 

Short+Sweet Song is part of the four-week Short+Sweet Festival and kicks off on Tuesday 9 September at The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC). 

With no single performance longer than 10 minutes and each being a complete work in itself, a night at Short+Sweet Song is one where you won’t know what’s coming next.

This year Short+Sweet Song features nine mini-musicals including Love And Other Mysteries by Patrick Kelly, Cushion by Rex McGregor and Asian Karaoke by Jun Bin Lee. At the end of each night the audience votes for their favourites.

Short+Sweet Song Artistic Coordinator, Robbie Ellis, says the event, now in its second year, has taken on a life of its own. “I’m stoked that Short+Sweet Song has now reached the ‘terrible twos’. This part of the festival is now a rambunctious two-year-old toddler, banging its hands on every musical style in sight: energetic funk rock, wispy singer-songwriterism, heart wrenching music drama, Asian karaoke and many more,” he says.

“Our all-singing, all-dancing performers are talented, funny, and keen to bring you nine concise pieces in a night’s entertainment. New musical theatre is alive and well in Auckland!”

Over the course of the four-week festival, Short+Sweet boasts an incredible 35 plays, 27 dance performances and nine musical works involving 50 directors, 40 playwrights, 30 choreographers, nine composers and close to 300 performers.

Short+Sweet Song
TAPAC, 100 Motions Rd, Western Springs, Auckland
9-13 September.
Book at
Find out more about the whole Short+Sweet Festival at

Monopoly – The Musical!
Writer, Director & Musical Director: Vicki Millar
Arrangements & Music Production: Cliff Bradley
Costumes: Barbara Hart
Choreographer: Alexandra McKellar
Cast: Merrin Cavel, Alexandra McKellar, Anika Perese, Whitney Channings, JP Watson & Bill Crisp
Produced by Vicki Millar Creative
The classic board game bursts into song as 1930s Londoners fight for property supremacy.
Monopoly © 2014 Hasbro. Used with permission.

The Might of Aphrodite
Writer: Erica Barlow (NSW)
Director: Julian Toy-Cronin
Musical Director: Rob Simpson
Choreographer: Rebecca Smith
Cast: Rebecca Smith, Brandon Rhoades & Amanda Burnett
A modern musical of ancient wrath. Though she was the Goddess of Love, mythology leaves no doubt that Aphrodite was not to be trifled with. Two friends discover just how creative a goddess’s vengeance can be.

This Paper City
Script Writer & Director:  Natalie Beran
Lyrics: Cliff Hedley
Music: Cliff Hedley & This Paper City
Cast: Daley Winterstein & Natalie Beran
Voice: Daniel Watterson
Produced by Mercury Jane Productions
Detective Andy Brennen takes the lead on a new case, his partner… an old flame. While he works to solve the case, he’ll have to try to solve another mystery – love.

A Girl Like Maria 
Scriptwriter: Tim Butler
Lyricists, Composers & Music Producers: Tim Butler & Natalie Cowan
Director: Johnny Givins
Musical Director: Andy Manning
Choreographer: Tanya Paliakova
Designer:  Valentina Serebrennikova
Director’s Assistant: Rick Schaeffers
Cast: Johnny Givins, Kyle Holtz, Alani Lewis, Min Kim, Niwa Whatuira, Danny Bailey, Tharina Bouwer & Rebekah Palmer
The story of William’s first love and sex as a 15 year old, which takes us back to the halcyon days of innocence and the need to get laid.

Writer: Rose Duxfield (WLG)
Director: Katie Flood
Co-Composer, Musical Director & Pianist: Zac Johns
Cast: Anna Haydon, Megan O’Reilly & Lexi Clare
Sophia’s a vegan, Jo’s a carnivore and Lucy just wants someone to do the dishes. 

Karaoke Heaven
Writer & Music Producer: Jun Bin Lee  
Directors: Jun Bin Lee, Amanda Grace Leo & Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho
Cast: Amanda Grace Leo & Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho
Produced by The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts
A musical about the beauty of karaoke, the most wonderful thing ever invented. 

Writer: Rex McGregor (AKL)
Director: Alex Walker
Musical Director & Pianist: Amy Hsu
Cast: Anna Haydon, Nicole Steven, Courtney Abbot, Caleb Ryan, Tainui Kuru & Todd Waters Trish deals with a predicament in the only way she knows how.

Love and Other Mysteries
Writer, Director & Musical Director: Patrick Kelly 
Cast: Alexandra McKellar
Produced by Harmonious Events Publishing
From the date night, to the accidental pregnancy, to the two years later. You wonder: how much of it is love and how much was just circumstance? 

Henry & Hyde
Book Co-Writer & Composer: J.M. Eisenman (USA)
Book Co-Writer & Lyricist: Thomas Adams (USA)
Director: Andrew Potvin
Musical Director & Keyboardist: Sam Jury
Cast: Lane Twigden, Matthew Carr & Olivia Shaw
Produced by Andrew Potvin Design & Management
A down under retelling of the Jekyll & Hyde story.

The (Sweet) Team 

Festival Artistic Director: Jonathan Hodge 
Festival Producer: Sums Selvarajan

Artistic Coordinator (Theatre): Ahi Karunaharan 
Artistic Coordinator (Dance): Jessie McCall
Artistic Coordinator (Dance): Lydia Zanetti 
Artistic Coordinator (Song): Robbie Ellis

Associate Producer: Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee 
Tech Adviser & Web Development: WhySquare Ltd
Marketing & Publicity: SWPR (Sally Woodfield)

Sweet & sour selection

Review by Kathryn van Beek 10th Sep 2014

The Short + Sweet Festival 2014 has already given us ten-minute plays. This week it’s giving us ten-minute musicals (and next week, ten-minute dance works). On the way to TAPAC we wondered what horrors and delights might await us. As it turns out, there are plenty of both in Short + Sweet Song, which features nine musicals by different writers, composers and actors [click title above for details].

Monopoly – The Musical!, set in 1930s London, is a classic piece of musical theatre featuring moral and financial battles between the upper and lower classes. The themes and music style will have Andrew Lloyd Webber fans turning up in droves if writer Vicki Millar extends the piece beyond ten minutes.

The Might of Aphrodite is a sweet tale that tells the story of Echo and Narcissus. The piece is slightly rough around the edges, but that’s part of its appeal. The music is charming and the actors delightful.  

This Paper City explores the little-known ‘cop drama musical romance’ genre with results as varied as its influences. Although the pace of the story is a little slow, tension could be drawn out by making the most of Cliff Hedley’s atmospheric, potentially hard-rocking songs.

From the moments the lights rise on the gigantic floral heart in A Girl Like Maria you know you’re in for something a bit different. This piece is the genre-busting pornographic musical you never knew you always wanted to see. Despite having a nasty little edge, it is ten minutes worth of laugh-out-loud fun. The knock-out performers know how to rock an amazing array of musical styles… and leather pants.

Flatmates explores the tensions that arise when a vegetarian, a meat-eater and a neat freak share a kitchen. This one-trick pony of an idea is flogged for the full ten minutes but gets a lot of laughs of recognition from the audience. (Personally I think if your worst flatting experience is having a dirty kitchen you’ve got off lightly.)

Karaoke Heaven features the owners of KTV Heaven selling us on the life-affirming benefits of karaoke. It’s impossible not to be swept away by the hyperbolic story-telling and the obvious enjoyment of natural performers Amanda Grace Leo and Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho as they sashay about the stage. They’re both fabulous singers and are bound to have annihilated the competition on the karaoke stage themselves.

The laughing stops in Cushion, a melodrama with themes from the 1800s uncomfortably superimposed onto a modern setting (though it would make a fabulous short story). The singers in this piece are fantastic and it’s a shame they don’t have more opportunity to let loose.

Love and other Mysteries is a one-woman show bravely and ably performed by Alexandra McKellar. The first song (about being twenty minutes late all through the day) is one of the highlights of the evening.

The showcase closes with Henry & Hyde, a surreal tale that answers the question – what happens when an uptight accountant and a porn star meet at a laundromat?

When the curtain comes down on this sweet and sour selection you’re asked to vote for your favourite piece. Our top three are Karaoke Heaven, The Might of Aphrodite and A Girl Like Maria, but each musical has special moments. Check the showcase out for yourself and see what tickles your fancy. 


Matt Baker September 15th, 2014

I’ll use a quote or two from Kathryn’s review purely because I’m commenting on this page to illustrate my point.

If you examine A Girl Like Maria under the terms of a musical as opposed to a “song performance”, which many Short+Sweet Song pieces tend to be, it is not really “genre-busting” in any way, as it complies implicitly with the “rules” of musical theatre. Its script was incredibly well structured for a 10-minute musical. The songs were initiated from the text, varied, and allowed both story progression and character development. The acting was perfectly pitched .The set, props, and costumes were extravagant verging on gaudy. The choreography and direction was clear and detailed. Tim Butler clearly understands how to construct a musical.

What he clearly does not understand is feminism. A Girl Like Maria was the most misogynistic piece of theatre I have ever witnessed. Its “nasty little edge” came in the form of reducing women to sexual objects (or prudes) whose primary focus is getting fucked (the focus was on the men fucking them and the men coming), and promoting its message to “bone that bitch.” Literally. That’s literally the message at the end of the piece as spoken by the narrator.

I wish I could get a copy of the script to quote more, because I was so disgusted with its content I couldn’t even note anything down. Let me be clear, I was not shocked; I was disgusted. I’m all for shocking an audience, but that shock should come via exposing them to ideas that make them confront their own perspectives. If this piece was genuinely intended to expose misogyny, it lacked the required tongue-in-cheek/wink to the audience to identify itself.

This was not parody or satire. If it was intended to be, I would love to hear Butler’s argument.

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