Te Auaha - Tapere Iti, 65 Dixon St, Wellington

07/07/2021 - 10/07/2021

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

11/08/2020 - 11/08/2020

Production Details

A solo cabaret celebrating the work of female and non-binary musical theatre writers, That’s All She Wrote intersperses songs from recent Broadway hits (Hadestown, Fun Home, Waitress), underrated indie gems (Murder Ballad, Runaways, Heterotopia) and original music with tales from musical theatre history.

Performer and writer Cassandra Tse (The Bone Thief, Under, M’Lady) tells her own story of a journey from musical theatre performance to writing and celebrates the women and non-binary writers who have come before her.

Circa Two
11 Aug 2020 [12-15 Aug cancelled due to Covid-19 Level 2 resitrictions]
5 shows only! (Development Season)
Post-show Q&A – Weds 12 Aug!
$25 – $35
Book Now!

Note: ‘Concession’ price (Community Services Card, Gold Card or student ID required)

Praise for Cassandra Tse:

If/Then (2018)
“The role demands Tse’s near constant presence onstage and an ability to jump between timelines with fluidity, which she achieves with ease… [her] effortless vocal performance delivers both quivering vulnerability and intense power.”
Aimee Smith, Broadway World

Spring Awakening (2018)
“The bittersweet duet ‘Don’t do Sadness/Blue Wind’ between Ilse and Moritz (Cassandra Tse and Konrad Makisi) is sung with absolute conviction and perfectly stylised vocals.”
Jo Hodgson, Theatreview

If/Then (2018)
“…we are propelled into two story paths starring Liz and Beth – both played brilliantly and with exceptional vocals by Cassandra Tse.”
Jo Hodgson, Theatreview


Not the end for That’s All She Wrote, a musical theatre cabaret celebrating female and non-binary writers

The cast and crew of That’s All She Wrote were devastated at being forced to close on opening night last year, due to a COVID-19 alert level change. “It was a massive blow,” says director James Cain. “ Everyone was so excited, there was such a buzz in the room and we were heading for a sold out season. Then people started getting notifications on their phones.” By midnight the country was back in Level Two and the team were unable to perform safely.

Despite an unexpected one night only performance, the production received incredible reviews. Theatreview described performer and writer Cassandra Tse as a “force of nature… a born entertainer” and Wellingtonista found the production to be a “love letter to women who decided that they deserved to stop hiding and let their writing out into the world.”

“It was so bittersweet to see that audiences and reviewers had connected so strongly with the material, only for there to be no means of showing it safely,” says Tse. “That’s why we are so excited to have the opportunity to bring the show back this July at Te Auaha.”

The Artistic Director of Red Scare Theatre Company, Tse is fresh from directing Auckland Theatre Company’s smash hit Single Asian Female at the ASB Waterfront Theatre and has returned to Pōneke to star in a return season of the company’s original show, a solo cabaret celebrating the work of female and non-binary musical theatre writers.

Written and performed by Tse, with music arranged and directed by Katie Morton and directed by the other half of Red Scare, James Cain, That’s All She Wrote intersperses songs from recent Broadway hits (Hadestown, Fun Home, Waitress), underrated indie gems (Murder Ballad, Runaways, Heterotopia) and original music with tales from musical theatre history.

Tse has performed some of the largest roles in musical theatre, from Mimi in Rent to Ilse in Spring Awakening and she’s written many musicals of her own (The Bone Thief, M’Lady, Bloodlines, Right Dishonourable). Despite being fully immersed in the world of musical theatre, she’s never written a role for herself and certainly never played herself onstage. “It’s definitely uncharted territory, but being a musical theatre writer myself, it felt right to be championing other women who have come before.”

A 2017 West End report found that male musical theatre writers outnumbered women nine to one and the role is still very much perceived as a man’s domain. Female musical theatre writers often have to make a name for themselves as performers before they can be ‘trusted’ to be writers and creators. “It’s sexism, plain and simple,” says Tse. “Things are slowly changing, but when it took until 2015 for an all-female writing team to win the Best Musical Tony, it’s clear we’ve got a long way to go.”

The show’s central aim is celebrate women and non-binary musical theatre writers through song. Tse is supported by Katie Morton (keys, accordion), Ellie Stewart (violin, backing vocals), Jevon Wright (drums, guitar) and Rachael Hinds (bass, double bass) in an ensemble dubbed the No Man Band. Through this evening of joyous musical theatre, the team hope to embolden more women and non-binary writers to take up the pen.

That’s All She Wrote opens at
Te Auaha
7 -10 July 2021
Tickets are available now


Performer: Cassandra Tse

The No Man Band
Keyboard & Accordion: Katie Morton
Violin & Backing Vocals: Ellie Stewart
Double Bass & Electric Bass: Rachael Hinds
Drums & Guitar: Jevon Wright   

Director: James Cain
Writer: Cassandra Tse
Music Director: Katie Morton

Set Designer: Rachel Hilliar
Lighting Designer: Ruby Kemp
Sound Designer: Patrick Barnes

Stage Manager: Abby Lyons
Photographer: Roc+ Photography

Song List:
Lullaby From Baby to Baby - Runaways (Elizabeth Swados)
Eurydice Meldey [Road to Hell/All I've Ever Known/Gone, I'm Gone/Flowers (Eurydice's Song)/Wait for Me (Reprise)] - Hadestown (Anais Mitchell)
Edge of a Dream - Heterotopia (Lainey Schooltree)
Changing My Major - Fun Home (Lisa Kron, Jeanine Tesori)
Taylor, the Latte Boy (Marcy Heisler, Zina Goldrich)
The Crying Scene - Murder Ballad (Juliana Nash, Julia Jordan)
When He Sees Me - Waitress (Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson)
Old Friend - I'm Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road (Gretchen Cryer, Nancy Ford)
So Little Time - Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope (Micki Grant)
Race You To The Top Of The Morning - The Secret Garden (Marsha Norman, Lucy Simon)
Take My Hand - Flatline with Two Sugars (Laura Gardner, Katie Morton)
Lioness - Miss You Like Hell (Quiara Alegria Hudes, Erin McKeown)
Not a Love Story - The Bad Years (Kait Kerrigan, Bree Lowdermilk)
Ring of Keys - Fun Home (Lisa Fron, Jeanine Tesori)
That's All She Wrote (Cassandra Tse)
She Used To Be Mine - Waitress (Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson) 

Theatre , Musical , Cabaret ,

1 hr 15 min

Puts the ladies of musical theatre in the spotlight

Review by Ines Maria Almeida 10th Jul 2021

The phenomenal Cassandra Tse in a slinky green number buttressed by a full No Man Band (that’s their name, not my wit here) of talented women is my idea of a perfect wintery, Wednesday night.

Red Scare Theatre Company’s smokey cabaret That’s All She Wrote is a feast for the eyes and salve for the Wellington arts lover who is a little tired of the status quo.

The heart of the story is a deeply personal one: Tse wants to highlight “how women and non-binary artists have to hide their work because they don’t see a place for themselves”. Do they have to hide, or are they deliberately hidden by an industry where male writers outnumber female writers 9:1? [More]


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Would not be out of place as a headliner at the NZ Arts Festival

Review by Dave Smith 08th Jul 2021

As writer Cassandra Tse puts it, on stage, the odds of a woman or non-binary composer having a show on Broadway are 1-9 against. The barriers are, and have been, all the more disabling for being invisible ones. That is outrageous but Ms Tse’s feisty response has been ‘don’t get mad – get creative’. Hence this marvellous show (which ironically, in terms of barriers, got rudely closed at Circa 2 last year because of a sudden Covid alert).

The Tse project’s recipe cannot be criticised for lack of ambition. Take about a dozen shows written by women/non binary folk that have mainly received scant recognition (only one Tony for best show) because of the gender of their provenance.  Then, in 90 minutes or so, do a number or two from each, rendering them so peerlessly well the audience feels they have actually seen the shows – one of them being a powerful local musical that is by no means a token hometown ‘ring-in’.

This prescription is breathtakingly bold and would daunt the best of operatic singers, who would of course only be required to sing. Ms Tse has had to research a regrettably massive subject then come up with an appealing stage narrative as well. She succeeds with distinction. I would put her in the ‘Cleo Laine doing Noel Coward characters’ class.

Using a beautifully mounted cabaret format, the show runs the full gamut of song types, stark emotions and dramatic situations; not relying on middle class stereotypes but rather with downtrodden waitresses, anxious young lesbians, tremulous infants and just about everyone else you never saw on Broadway. This isn’t glimpses; it’s the full Monty (women’s division). 

I well recall an Auckland journo saying that in the Supercity they go to the theatre to be entertained whereas in Wellington they go to be lectured. If there was ever any truth in that then be assured it does not apply to Cassandra Tse and her engrossing wealth of research. She is all talent, loveliness, sincerity, humanity and pizazz. And no way is this a show about a know-all on a podium with an excruciating axe to grind. It will entertain in a way you might often dream of. In a nutshell it’s an erudite bundle of all the things that make live theatre so uplifting.  

The set is well thought out and is neatly in line with the demands of the unique space. Te Auaha theatre lives more in the realm of the vertical than the eye-to-eye horizontal (where cabaret usually resides). But that is totally obviated by Rachel Hilliard’s creation. It incorporates several extra-long vertical flats that ascend into the flies/heavens; each plastered with voluminous sheet music that must have taken some patience to erect. The down-lighting complements this most effectively. The overall effect of a boxlike smoky cabaret that firmly rebuts any hint of a sterile lecture theatre.

The set envelops the musical space, which is basically a small rectangular stage encircled by closely attendant musicians and their copious gear. However, it still leaves the star ample room to wander up and down the auditorium steps, further building goodwill with an increasingly enraptured audience.  

Then there is the band, under the knockout name of No Man Band. Again, the show’s completely rounded concept shines out. Musical Director Katie Morton is on keyboard and accordion, which at one point they play simultaneously! They are joined by Ellie Stewart on violin, with Rachael Hinds on double bass, electric bass and (in effect) cello. Jevon Wright drums with innate understanding, restraint and admirable taste. All four join together at the heart with their singer to deliver unbelievably fine ‘mini-shows’. They are NOT just a backing band.  

The members of the muso ensemble put on hats, supply dialogue and do complex harmony lines while playing fiendishly hard instrumental parts. This playing is exquisite in that the women have so clearly absorbed the deeper meanings and underlying emotions of the songs. Their utter clarity is such that their most forceful playing never sounds remotely like an overpowering noise. I close my eyes when all five artists are in full flight and the richness, togetherness and range of sound convinces me I am hearing a full pit orchestra.

Furthermore, the sound design by Patrick Barnes is a joy. Like the set, and the lighting by Ruby Kemp, it supplies huge reinforcement to the dramatic themes with subtle echoes and excellent visual clarity when that is crucial; lighting and sound so good you hardly notice them as stage techniques. Director James Cain and Music Director Katie Morton have brought together some stellar supporting talents and used them brilliantly in a challenging environment. This show would not be out of place as a headliner at the NZ Arts Festival. 

In the end, though, we must needs come back to Cassandra Tse. She is a theatre woman in 10 million. The concept is hers and it is pure genius. But how often can one put on stage, in the one body, the following: a natural and succinct communicator, a charming and lovable personality, a superb vocal musician and an actress who can, on a sixpence, pivot into and out of ‘the dramatic moment’, persuading an audience that they have been seeing a dozen different performers? In every respect, she is beautifully and convincingly strong. The notes and the words are crystal clear at all times while the accents are nailed both in place and character.  I remain stunned by what I’ve seen and heard.  

The aural kaleidoscope of songs offer a range so wide this review cannot take them all in. One typically shining example will suffice. ‘Changing My Major (to Joan)’ from that lonely Tony-winner Fun Home is musically astute and deliciously droll. A young woman has headed to college and discovered, horror of Broadway horrors, that she likes ladies way better than men and wants to sing about it. The witty title says it all but the performance might well be described at winkingly lubricous. The crowd gets it in in one. Simply superb. 

We nearly all missed Woodstock, Live Aid, Elvis and the Beatles out in Godzone. You have three nights to make sure you don’t miss this big event. It’s the real deal on a scale very rarely seen out this way without a $250 price tag. That appendix operation can wait.


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A dedicated, indefatigable performance from a born entertainer

Review by Georgia Jamieson Emms 12th Aug 2020

A regular on the Wellington musical scene, writer/performer Cassandra Tse proves once again her talent and artistry as she celebrates women and non-binary composers and lyricists in this development season of her one-woman show That’s All She Wrote.  

It is a great concept and with it she presents the audience a slew of mostly unfamiliar musical theatre numbers (some, Tse admits, were until recently also unfamiliar to her). It is a treat to hear new songs presented with such style, skill and sass, and Tse is so captivating that at no point does one long to hear a Broadway standard.

Accompanied by Katie Morton (keyboard), Ellie Stewart (violin), Jevon Wright (drums) and Rachael Hinds (bass), Tse takes centre stage on a raised dais with a painting easel to her right on which sits an oversized Playbill magazine. Like the Broadway version of a PowerPoint presentation, Tse turns a page for each musical number, presenting headshots of the composers and lyricists and their theatre posters.

Several of these women have been celebrated with nominations and awards for their work; most are overshadowed by bigger (male) names. It is a nasty realisation when Tse tells us male writers outnumber women on Broadway 9-1, and it was only in 2015, five short years ago, that a female writing team won Best Musical for the first time (that was Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori for Fun Home).

From the opening number, ‘Lullaby’, Tse is fully committed to each song. She is a force of nature in the weird and wonderful ‘Edge of a Dream’ from Heterotopia, and completely adorable in ‘Changing My Major’ from Fun Home. It is so refreshing to hear her sing in her own accent with tweaked lyrics in ‘Taylor the Latte Boy’; but this number, while delightful, isn’t as vocally strong as the previous ones. She is back on form however for ‘When He Sees Me’ from Waitress. Regardless of which accent she uses (American Standard, Southern, a Kiwi drawl) Tse’s diction is effortlessly clear and she moves through various musical theatre styles – from rock opera to mile-a-minute comedic patter – showing off her full vocal range.

Tse gives us a glimpse at the person behind the performer with gently self-deprecating tales of a musical-obsessed childhood, and these are the moments that one feels truly connected with her. For the most part, songs are introduced and synopses are recited and quickly forgotten. More interesting perhaps are the stories behind the writers, and how Tse came to perform the pieces. The difficulty in cabaret is having a feeling of spontaneity despite the fact that the show is well-rehearsed; it is in these moments of spontaneity that we connect with Tse and get drawn into her world.

Charming, with a great voice and undeniable stage presence, Tse is the real deal when it comes to the genre. This is particularly evident when she sings Mandy Patinkin’s role in The Secret Garden, complete with dragon sound effects. This number also uses the violin accompaniment to its best effect, supportive rather than intrusive (there was slight balance issue here). Interestingly, when Tse’s mic cuts out during this song, her voice continues to project clear and strong to fill Circa 2 – this technical difficulty does not do anything to diminish her performance, if anything it hammers home the fact that Tse has the vocal chops to hold her own without any enhancement.

Well-chosen and interesting works continue with ‘Take My Hand’ from the NZ musical Flatine with Two Sugars by Katie Morton (also playing keyboard) and Laura Gardner. This is a great song and Tse sings with conviction. She then belts out three back-to-back showstoppers, my favourite being ‘Not A Love Story’ from Tales From The Bad Years, vocally secure and in complete control of her instrument. ‘Ring of Keys’ shows us Tse nailing the ingenue role, perfectly nuanced and with great style. She treats us with an encore, ‘She Used To Be Mine’ from Waitress and completely owns it.

Hers is a dedicated, indefatigable performance, and That’s All She Wrote is guaranteed entertainment from a born entertainer. 

[Go to for updates on the status of further performances – ed.] 


Editor August 12th, 2020

Circa has now posted the following on its website:

COVID-19 UPDATE 12 AUG 2020: 

Dear valued patrons,

Due to limited space in Circa Two for social distancing, Circa Theatre and the artists of the show have made the necessary decision to postpone this development season indefinitely and there will be no public performances of That’s All She Wrote from Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 August

This decision has been made with public safety as our paramount concern: We have safe plans in place for both of our spaces – and all our artists and audiences – across all possible alert levels going forward. We are incredibly grateful for clear guidance from our government at this time and eagerly await more updates in the coming days.

That’s All She Wrote are very proactive in examining digital distribution and livestream options, including a potential livestream as soon as this Friday 14th August.

Please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for further updates.

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