Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

11/06/2013 - 15/06/2013

Production Details


Artistic Director: Jonathan Hodge  

What’s more choice than Short+Sweet?  

Short+Sweet in association with Development Programmes at THE EDGE presents Short+Sweet – Dance, Song and Theatre 2013. 

28 May – 30 June, at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE. 

Short+Sweet is back and it’s taking over Auckland ten minutes at a time! 

Come join us for five weeks of fast and furious, bite sized performances featuring some of Auckland’s best writers, directors, choreographers, dancers and actors.

And to celebrate our fourth year of Short+Sweet we’ve got something new for you. We’re not only bringing back Short+Sweet Dance and Short+Sweet Theatre but we’re premiering our new favourite, Short+Sweet Song – it’s musical theatre time!

Whichever genre you choose, it’s a night at the theatre where you never know what’s going to happen next and you get to vote for your favourite performance at the end of the night.

Short+Sweet – The biggest little festival in the world – produces hundreds of the best ten minute plays, dance works and musical theatre pieces from across the globe each year and hits Auckland for its fourth year in a row this May/June.

Each night Short+Sweet presents ten performances, each no longer than ten minutes. A feast of styles and subjects, the next new work is only ever ten minutes away and there is always something for everyone.

‘It’s exciting; it’s a great night out for the audience and it’s the perfect taster for someone who might never have been to dance or theatre before. It’s only ever 10 minutes to the next piece so if you don’t like that one you don’t have to wait long until the next one starts!’ Says Sums Selvarajan, Festival Producer.

As well as presenting some of the best ten-minute theatre in the world; Short+Sweet has also opened doors and launched careers of many artists across the globe.

‘It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved, to try something new, showcase their talent and work with people they may have never met before’ says Jonathan Hodge, Artistic Director of Theatre and Song.

Within the three genres of Dance, Theatre and Song the performances are split into groups. Dance and Theatre both have a top 20 split into Week one and two and one wildcard group performing once only on the middle Saturday. Song has one just one week for its premiere season. 

The Top 20 (or 10 for Song), perform from Tuesday – Saturday (ten shows per week) while the Wildcard shows (Dance and Theatre) get one matinee performance on Saturday to strut their stuff and wow the audiences and judges as they decide who makes it through to the Gala Final.

On the final Sunday the best ten of the season (decided by the audience and judges) are performed one last time. The judges choose their best production, playwright, director and actors and the people’s choice award for the whole season is also announced.

‘The audience play a huge part in picking the winner. It’s very exciting for everyone and it’s going to be a fantastic three weeks’ says Jonathan ‘So make sure you are there to cast your vote’.

If you prefer watching the 100 metre sprint to the full marathon, love the drama of Project Runway, the pressure of Master Chef, and the talent of X Factor get down to Short+Sweet.

Funny, moving, absurd, touching and now musical, you can expect the unexpected with Short+Sweet — so are you in, or are you out?

Full Festival programme available here

Ticketing Information 

Tickets $25 adult, $20 concession (concession available for 65+, students and children under 14 years) and $35 Gala Finals from 0800 BUY TICKETS or (service fees apply) 

Group Bookings (more than 6 people) – Call 09 357 3354. 

For media enquiries, please contact Alex Ellis on 0275026542 or

Performance Schedule 

Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 June and Sunday 30 June 

Everything is better with a Soundtrack. Short+Sweet Song is where singers, musicians and composers present punchy musicals in just ten minutes! Expect the unexpected in a night that mashes up rock, musicals, pop, indie and event opera. 

Week 1

Tuesday 11 June – Saturday 15 June 2013 (Tues – Wed 7pm, Thurs – Sat 8pm)

Gala Final  Sunday 30 June (3pm & 7.30pm)

This program is still changing but at this stage here is some of what you can expect from the Short+Sweet Song showcase this year.

ITC: Dial One
Title: Annie & Joshua
Director: Thomas Sainsbury
Composer & Musical Director: Robbie Ellis
Writer: Robbie Ellis (adapted from Tom Sainsbury)
Cast: Bridget Costello and Callum Black more with pianist Robbie Ellis.
Synopsis: Joshua a hotel bell boy proclaims his over-the-top devotion to Annie, a hotel receptionist way out of his league. It’s unrequited love on the late shift until it becomes a marriage of two sleep-deprived minds.

ITC: Amplitude
Title: quiet desperation
Director& Creator: Celeste Oram (NZ)
Cast: Elizabeth Mandeno, Phoebe Borwick, Celeste Oram, James Roberson, Adam Thompson
Synopsis: Five performers.
A treadmill. A pair of boxing gloves. A skipping rope. A washing machine.
This absurd, frenetic and darkly comic piece of physical music theatre stretches the physical and vocal capabilities of each performer beyond the limits in an arresting and disturbing evocation of the modern-day rat race.”

ITC: Flashbulb Theatre Group
Title: What Love Can Be
Writer: Tamasyn Clare (NZ)
Director: Kinloch Anstiss
Cast: Cassie Baker (Emma), Liam Coleman (Jeremy)
Synopsis: Emma and Jeremy have been together for five years. Emma is beginning to realise their love doesn’t look the way it used to.

ITC: Freelance Bohemian
Title: Hole in The Road
Writer/Composer: Scott Koorey (NZ)
Director: Jonathan Hodge
TBC - changed due to illness.
There’s a hole in the road and I don’t know how to mend it … coping with shaking foundations.

ITC: The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts
Title: The Adventures of Kazu and Kengo (a.k.a. This is how Ninjas say hi…!)
Director: Gerald Urquhart
MD & Composer: Jun Bin Lee
Cast: Kazuhide Shaun Okuda (lead)
Kengo Hosaka (lead)
Hiroshi Nakatsuji (lead)
A tale of how two ninjas save the day (or try to at least). Not once not twice but thrice and all in under 10 minutes (in three acts).

Invited as part of the showcase …

Title: I Wish I Learned
Director: Matthew Grice
Composer & Musical Director: Vicki Millar
Writer: Vicki Millar
Cast: Alexandra McKellar
Synopsis: Revisiting the classroom she attended as a 5 year old, Abigail prepares to send her own daughter off to school. With another baby on the way, she talks to the little one about the things she wishes she learned in school – an alphabet of real life lessons.

An eclectic mix of fun, weird, refreshingly original, and thought-provoking

Review by Joselyn Khor 13th Jun 2013

As an art form, musical theatre is a craft all its own. Marrying the talented ear of a composer with the creative foresight of the director is no easy feat. The talent of two such artists can be successfully expressed with the moulding of human canvases to convey a lyrically spellbinding masterpiece for the senses of sight and sound.

If done right, the end result can be a sensation worthy of reflection. Even with eyes closed, the melodies, harmonies, and soaring notes can soothingly mingle with the imagination. Eyes open, performances can titillate, excite, provoke and impress.

Musicals are incredibly hard to get right. As with much contemporary art, some musicals have you scratching your head and asking, “What?” 

Leaving the audience clueless and dumbfounded may be a goal for artists deeming their work “open to interpretation,” but when this aim for a message is implanted into the musical genre, I can only scratch my head and ask, “Why?”

This conclusion I sadly have to come to when the third musical in Short+Sweet Song, titled Quiet Desperation, created and directed by Celeste Oram, is presented with five actors arriving on stage only to stare awkwardly out at the audience for what seems like an eternity. It is a truly uncomfortable moment, which does not end there.

The frenetic energy seems pointless.  Who knew amidst all that noise my brain could switch off only to be resuscitated by another creepy stare-off, coupled with heavy panting from the cast of five. 

Of course with the bad comes the good. 

Opening the scene for the first musical, Annie & Joshua, a sprightly, strikingly red-attired Callum Blackmore playing Joshua catches my attention. With the appearance of Bridget Costello’s prim and proper Annie’s, suddenly wailing, the audience is in for two great performances.

Well acted and well sung – and directed by Thomas Sainsbury – this duo plays well with Robbie Ellis’ score. A keyboard is the only accompaniment for telling this lyrical tale of romance and heartbreak.

The composition is a bit tetchy but the chaotic development of the relationship means the accordingly chaotic keyboard playing, makes sense. Keys played to a crescendo echo the rollercoaster of emotions felt by both Joshua and Annie. Their strong voices allow for great harmonizing too.

There are a few lulls but the two actors have good clear deliveries for a drastic, theatrical musical number. Their exaggerated performance and great energy makes for a lively 10 minute show.

Costello has an impressive stage presence; demure but feisty with a strong voice that carries to the back of the room. Blackmore is lively and easy to watch. Comedy is a hard beast to tame but he shows promise in being able to navigate around the genre. Comedic timing is almost right. Both actors are engaging and set the benchmark for the shows to follow.

The second musical, Tamasyn Clare’s What Love Can Be, directed by Kinloch Anstiss, somewhat dampens the mood with a melodramatic tale of tortured souls within a relationship. 

Cassie Baker, playing Emma, is the only one singing and it seems the songs might have been too challenging for her range. There are a few pitchy moments, as well as notes that are a bit flat. The skill of singing and acting is a hard combination to get right. Here the challenge is evident as forced emotions mean the singing suffers. Trying to be overemotional only interferes with her voice. 

There is a tense bit of forced acting between the two actors. They’re not afraid to lock lips, but the intimacy seems rehearsed and a tad unnatural.

The third ‘musical’ is already covered above. All I can add is, it’s weird. Just weird. It could definitely not be construed as a musical. Lacking the finesse of the genre, or even any sense of coherence as a show, this piece is not at all enjoyable to watch or listen to.

The fourth musical – an excerpt from I Wish I Learned, invited to showcase – was pulled due to the actress falling sick, which leads us into the high-energy show of musical ninjas titled The Adventures of Kazu and Kengo (a.k.a. This is how Ninjas say hi…!) 

An upbeat score by Jun Bin Lee brings smiles to faces. The happy music mingling with the effervescent energy of the actors means the audience and actors alike have fun. A cast of madcap characters, led by Kengo Hosaka and Hiroshi Nakatsuji, put the audience at ease.

Being fast-paced, the plot is somewhat lost to us in the middle with a harried mix of costume changes. Given that English is a second-language to the cast, some of the lyrics are hard to understand, but the cast still delivers an enthusiastic performance that makes up for the language barrier. We are given great spirited deliveries and wonderful comedic timing.

The musical composition is played with uniquely oriental instruments, bringing originality and a multi-cultural spin to the musical genre. The masked men of mystery infuse life and laughter into their demeanours which is refreshing to watch.

The final musical, called Hole in The Road, by Scott Koorey and directed by Jonathan Hodge, starts off with choreography which uses props – brooms – in a mini dance number.

A heavy subject is broached but never openly spoken about. The lyrical highs and lows are all we can rely on with the actors telling – but not really telling – us of the struggles faced.

Here it is evident that microphones make all the difference. I am surprised to learn the female lead is Cassie Baker, the same actress who appeared in the second show. This time though, she hits all her notes.

Edgy music with electric guitar and drums emphasizes the tough subject, telling a deeper story than I had originally expected.

In this second outing, it is great to see Cassie Baker coming into her own. Her stage presence and energy is heightened. Although dealing with another weighty subject, her voice isn’t strained with the pressure of emotion as it was before. The emotion here flows well through the lyrics and through her facial expressions and gestures. It is easier to watch this performance, which surpasses that of the male’s – who has had to stand in for this show due to an illness in the cast.

Humour is attempted but falls somewhat flat. There is a subtle message about the hardship faced by fellow New Zealanders: those plagued by fissures in their neighbourhoods leading to cracks in their sanity. The tense music coupled with capable acting allows the audience to question, with such continued struggles, who could put up with being “stoic” all the time?

Overall, Short + Sweet Song is an eclectic mix of fun, weird, refreshingly original, and thought-provoking. An interesting hour of entertainment.

The concept of a 10-minute musical is intriguing. However, we can’t expect anything in-depth. Given the time frame, the actors, composers, and directors made a commendable effort trying to condense all that a musical should be, into 10 minutes. As to whether or not they succeed – you be the judge.


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Singing makes everything better

Review by James Wenley 13th Jun 2013

Short+Sweet Song is even shorter than the other editions. While the odd 10 minute Musical Theatre piece has popped up in Auckland’s Short+Sweet Theatre Festival (including the initial version of hilarious Bombs Away), this year musically inspired theatre get their own category and week, and on opening night five 10 minute works made up a brief yet eclectic evening that proved the showbiz maxim that the show must go on.

Chalk this one up to the necessary learning curve as the artists get to grips with the challenges of composing for the strict ten minute format. Most of the works are vaguely in the style of the Musical Theatre genre, and condensing the emotional roller coaster of a Musical down to ten minutes and a handful of songs is not an easy task. [More]


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