Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland

28/04/2014 - 03/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details


From the team that brought you “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”, “The Gingerbread Man” and “The Great Christmas Caper”, Phineas Phrog invites you to join the fun and frivolity of The Emperor’s New Clothes, playing during the April school holidays from April 28th at the Bruce Mason Centre

Once upon a time there was a great Emperor who loved to dress up. Wonderful robes, sparkling trousers, ruffled shirts and shoes with bells on them – he loved them all! He would change three, four, five times a day and each outfit would be more elaborate and glorious than the last. He would parade and dance about and his subjects would ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ at his sartorial splendour.  

One day for his upcoming birthday the Emperor demands the most magnificent suit ever created. All his tailors and seamstresses set to work straight away but nothing pleases the picky ruler – until a strange weaver promises to make him the most extraordinary outfit ever seen… a magical outfit… an outfit so unique that only the worthy can see it!  

Will the wonderful new clothes be the most spectacular fashion ensemble ever put together? Or is the mysterious weaver playing a sneaky trick on the vain Emperor?  

Adapted by Sarah Somerville, this re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic is full of colourful characters and toe-tapping tunes – making this madcap tale a holiday treat that will entertain ten and under!

Four actors , loaded with physical high jinks, play the entire cast of kooky characters involved in this much loved fairy tale; singing, dancing and bringing some theatrical madness, ably assisted by a band of school children!  Audience participation is encouraged; imagination applauded and the opportunity is offered to meet and high-five their favourite characters in the foyer after the show.

Phineas Phrog Productions continues its vibrant entertainment tradition with another energetic theatrical romp for the whole family. Aiming to provide quirky and uplifting entertainment, the team look to make trips to the theatre a regular family event, to make their products accessible and affordable, and to keep the magic and the madness of childhood alive in us all! 

Enter the wonderful world of The Emperor’s New Clothes – full of fun, colour, and music, this tale will entertain and engage.

28th April – 3rd May, 10:30am
Bruce Mason Centre, North Shore, Auckland
Tickets: $16.00. Early bird Family pass (4 x tickets) $48.00 available until 23rd March 2014
Groups of 10+ : $13,00 (service fees apply)
Bookings through Ticketmaster – or 09 970 9700
Recommended for children ages 3-10 years of age. 

Ashton Brown – The Emperor
Claire Dougan – Grovel
Sarah Somerville – Town Crier / Pander
Keith Adams – Fashion Designer
Torum Heng – Trixie Weaver 

Music by Hamish Oliver

Theatre , Children’s ,

Excellent audience engagement

Review by Bronwyn Elsmore 28th Apr 2014

In the case of a play for children, first the Playwright then the Director has a particularly difficult task to achieve. Each must produce a product that appeals to children in the target range and at the same time has enough in it to satisfy the adults who necessarily accompany them. For the children, they should aim to provide something magical that will make them lifetime theatregoers; the adults should leave feeling the event was worth their time and money. 

Phineas Phrog productions have been offering family entertainment in Auckland for ten years now and have become a slick team. From arrival at the theatre there are activities – face-painting, balloon animals, as well as some appropriate items for sale – that add to the whole theatre experience. By the time the show starts the young audience is well in the mood for more fun. 

Consequently, audience engagement in this show is excellent – at times almost deafening in the participation and response.

On the down side, the publicity gives no mention of a playwright, and to me that’s a big No-No at any time! Furthermore, it wasn’t easy to find that information, even at the venue, given there’s no programme. If I hadn’t begged a spare copy of a cast list I wouldn’t have any idea of who was who. That seems unsatisfactory not only for those interested, but also for the actors and production staff involved – the professionals and the children who make up the chorus. 

The five principals are all excellent in their roles so deserve to be acknowledged. Sarah Somerville as the town crier has the task of soliciting audience response and achieves it admirably. The cast sheet finally reveals that she can also be credited with the adaptation and the direction, so triple commendation goes to her.

Ashton Brown as the Emperor, Keith Adams in several roles but particularly strong as Designer, Claire Dougan as Grovel, and Torum Heng as Trixie Weaver – are all well-rehearsed, confident, and believable. A dragon called Mr Snookums is unidentified though his controller is sometimes glimpsed behind the curtains, and the children are listed by their first names only. 

Two actors take on multiple roles. Co-reviewer Miss 11 is quick to spot this, first picking boots common under three costumes, and is critical of doubling – “It looks as though they can’t be bothered to find more actors.” 

The set, costumes and movement are colourful and deliberate, as suits the convention of dramatised fable. The music, attributed to Hamish Oliver, is good and not overdone by being too long. (More comment could be appropriate here but there’s no explanation of how it should be judged or acknowledged; is it original; who did the arrangements?) 

A plus for children’s theatre is that there’s only one fart joke, though unfortunately repeated and, thank heavens, they avoided stuffing the Queen Mother’s blouse with balloons. 

You can be sure that every child came with the expectation of seeing the Emperor in the nude – that is the story, after all. The only question was how would this be done? Avoiding a spoiler here, the unveiling is a disappointment. Understandable for a family show, perhaps, but there are ways a better effect can be achieved. 

From the adult point of view the Emperor’s conversion from vain egotist to more responsible ruler is rather too sudden and unconvincing, but Miss 11 and Master 9 thought the lesson implied is good so that view over-rules.

Overall, top marks for the company for providing a whole theatre experience that will certainly be remembered by the gratifyingly large audience of children present for the opening performance.


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