The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

20/04/2013 - 04/05/2013

Production Details


Auckland’s leading children’s theatre company, Tim Bray Productions presents The Dragon of an Ordinary Family at the PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna from 15 April to 4 May.

Based on the Margaret Mahy book and adapted for the stage by Tim Bray with original songs by Christine White, the show tells the story of an unusual pet who enters the lives of an ordinary family. As the little dragon grows bigger and bigger, it becomes clear that dragons should not be kept as pets! An extraordinary, and very magical, adventure begins. 

“We’ve loved bringing Margaret Mahy’s tale to life again,” playwright Tim Bray says. “Her writing is so beautiful and it’s a pleasure to work with this story which children love.”

Tim Bray Productions has adapted a number of Margaret Mahy stories for the stage. “Margaret was an extraordinary writer and a true treasure. We like to think that we are doing our part in keeping her memory alive.”

The Dragon of an Ordinary Family features Aaron Ward as Mr Belsaki, Elizabeth Tierney as Mrs Belsaki, Todd Emerson as Orlando as well as Aruna Po-Ching and Sam Berkley with live music performed by Kristie Addison.

The Dragon of an Ordinary Family is the first show presented as part of Tim Bray Productions 2013 Program. 

The Dragon of an Ordinary Family by Margaret Mahy is
at The PumpHouse, Takapuna, Auckland
from Monday 15 April to Saturday 4 May.
Performance times: 15-19 April 10.30am and 1pm;
20 April to 4 May Monday to Saturday 10.30am and 2pm,
plus Wednesdays and Fridays 7pm, Sunday 28 April 2pm and 5pm,
and Gala Opening performance on Saturday 20 April at 5pm.
No shows on Thursday 25 April (Anzac Day) and Monday 29 April.
Children are encouraged to dress up.

To book, phone (09) 489-8360 or online at

Orlando Belsaki:  Todd Emerson
Mr Belsaki:  Aaron Ward
Mrs Belsaki:  Liz Tierney
Pet Shop Owner, Visitor, Birthday Dragon, Isles of Magic characters, Cat voice:  Aruna Po-Ching
Pet Shop Owner, Mayor, Dragon voice and puppeteer, Isles of Magic characters:  Sam Berkley
Musician:  Kristie Addison

Producer/Director:  Tim Bray
Production Manager:  Renée Casserly
Publicity:  SWPR
Set Designer:  Rachael Walker
Lighting Designer:  Michael Craven
Costume Designer:  Chantelle Gerrard
Choreographer:  Linda McFetridge
Props:  Becky Ehlers
Set Builder:  TBC
Stage Manager:  Elaine Walsh TBC
Lighting & Sound Operator:  Jaz Wilson
Ushers / Isles of Magic characters:  Margaret Bremner, Martyn Wood 

Magically marvellous adaptation

Review by Joanna Page 21st Apr 2013

To the parents throughout the country dreading yet more school holidays, fear not. Tim Bray Productions has your back.

This holiday sees a magically marvellous adaptation of Margaret Mahy’s second published story, The Dragon of an Ordinary Family. And whether you’re 2, 12, 22 or 72 years old, you’re sure to love the combination of a tale from one of the country’s boldest imaginations and the interpretation of the King of Family Theatre.

Under Tim Bray’s direction, Todd Emerson, Elizabeth Tierney and Aaron Ward bring the Belsaki family to life. It’s left to Sam Berkley and Aruna Po-Ching to transform themselves into all the other characters in the story, which they do effortlessly and with subtle, quick costume changes.

The Belsakis make a wonderful team, with Tierney’s down-to-earth voice-of-reason mother role, Ward’s verging on panto (in a good way) scatter-brained father, and Emerson’s gangly, guileless son playing off each other delightfully. And with Emerson towering over both parents, that’s quite a feat.

For the children in the audience there is no question that Dragon (who appears in an assortment of sizes) is the star. Master Two is fascinated as the tiny pet evolves into a cheeky larger-than-life force, and so is his Grandmother. It is all done with clever traditional theatre techniques and puppetry that are so smooth none of us is conscious we’ve suspended disbelief until the show is over.  

Rachael Walker’s simple three-chairs-and-a-table set and assorted props plus Chantelle Gerrard’s costumes help to keep the audience focused throughout the performance, which isn’t easy given how quickly The Pumphouse heats up with a full-house of excited children and their parents. (Wear layers when you go – especially if you have small children who like to sit on your lap.)

Often when songs are added to an adaptation they seem to miss the mark, or detract from the story, but Christine White’s work helps the story to unfold. Whether it’s explaining why Mr Belsaki would bring a dragon home, or how the family spends their Christmas holiday, the music adds a dimension which would be sorely missed otherwise. Children love a good song and the very adept musician Kristie Addison is right where the audience can see her – which the children around me find fascinating. One comments, “Look Mummy, it’s not off a computer!”

It’s fairly obvious that I’m a huge fan of Tim Bray’s productions. This doesn’t let me down at all – it builds on all the productions I’ve seen before. So if you have a chance to take the kids out for one thing these holidays, make it this: live theatre as well done as this is worth so much more than the ticket price. (And save your most fervent applause for Kelly Hodgins and Noreen Smith, the sign language interpreters – their job must be exhausting.) 


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