The Emperors New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

06/07/2009 - 18/07/2009

Production Details

Magical Children’s Stories on Stage In Auckland For School Holidays

Two brilliant tales from one of the world’s leading storytellers, Hans Christian Andersen come to life on stage in July in Takapuna, Auckland.

Tim Bray Productions presents The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling at The PumpHouse, Takapuna from 6-18 July with a special gala opening on Saturday 4 July. A season for schools and pre-schools will run from Monday 29 June to Friday 3 July. The Mazda Foundation and the Becroft Foundation have funded tickets for low decile school children to attend the shows for free.

The show brings together two of the best known stories by Hans Christian Andersen – the hilarity of the pompous Emperor who gets swindled by his own pride and foolishness and the beautiful poignancy of the ugly duckling who is born into the wrong family, rejected and lost and eventually finds acceptance among her own kind.

Tim Bray Productions first staged the two stories in 2005 to mark the 200th anniversary of the writer’s birth. "We’re looking forward to bringing these wonderful stories back to the stage," Tim Bray says.

Adapted for the stage by Tim Bray, the plays are directed by Amanda Rees and star Donogh Rees, Li-Ming Hu, Lori Dungey, Sam Berkely and Dane Dawson with original songs by Christine White and plenty of audience interaction.

Children are encouraged to come dressed up and can also enter their work into an art exhibition held in the PumpHouse Theatre foyer.

The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling is the second in a series of professional children’s theatre productions presented by Tim Bray Productions in 2009. September will feature the adaptation of Joy Cowley’s book Snake and Lizard, and December will feature the return of the ever-popular The Santa Claus Show.

The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling
The PumpHouse, Killarney Park, Takapuna, Auckland
from 6-18 July at 10.30am and 1.00pm
with a Gala Opening on Saturday 4 July at 7.00pm.
No shows on Sundays
Children are encouraged to dress up according to the themes of the shows.
To book, phone (09) 489-8360 or online at 

Special love and sparkling fun

Review by Jessie Kollen 08th Jul 2009

It’s difficult to describe this Tim Bray Production of these popular fairy tales without unleashing a flight of over-used adjectives:  The production was "magical" and "delightful", the Ugly Duckling was utterly "charming" and the Emperor was a lot of "pompous" fun.  But actually such adjectives are indispensable, because the production was magical and delighted its audience of all ages.  Especially the many youthful members of the audience at the Pumphouse Theatre in Takapuna, for whom it was the first time hearing the tale of the little ugly duckling or the story of a vain emperor who is tricked into revealing his foolishness…

Tim Bray’s adaptations of these stories were written in 2005 for the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s birth, and remain in the spirit of the original tales.  The five actors give lively interpretations of their characters, but the period costumes lend a sense of traditional narrative and the bold lighting provides colour and depth to the stage where there are few props and a simple backdrop.  Tim Bray is an experienced playwright, especially for children’s theatre, and the momentum of both stories carries the audience from slapstick to song (composed by Christine White) and doesn’t miss a single beat.

The Ugly Duckling (played and sung in a wonderfully gangly/graceful manner by Li-Ming Hu) is the first half of the performance and more suited to the little ones aged from three to five years old.  My daughter (four years) told me without hesitation that this was her favourite.  It was harder for me to choose my favourite part because there were heaps of laughs for the adults; I loved the fluffy yellow ducklings, Dane Dawson and Lori Dungey, whose perfect peeping and cheeping made me think that Dawson especially must have engaged in some serious method acting to prepare for the role…

Lori Dungey is great with her superb facial expressions as the swindling Dr Diddle in The Emperor’s New Clothes, just as Sam Berkley gives an excellently aristocratic and idiotic Emperor who shrieks, giggles and brims with extravagant frivolity.  Indeed, one of the highlights of the production is the scene in The Emperors New Clothes when all five cast members are on stage singing "Lots of Money".  Dane Dawson (who has an excellent voice) and Li-Ming Hu play guitars and sing on the one side, while on the other Dr Diddle and Mr Swizz (played by Donogh Rees, also wonderful as Mother Duck) make the Emperor’s ‘new clothes’ while gloating in song over how much money they’ve managed to defraud.  Meanwhile, the Emperor himself appears from the wings and sashays in a series of hilarious poses across the background every time his name is mentioned…

The Ugly Duckling captures a sweet note of the special love between families and the need to belong, while The Emperor’s New Clothes sparkles with fun and reminds us to be ourselves.  With such a combination of sensitivity, good laughs and an experienced and committed cast, you can’t really go wrong with this kind of family theatre experience these school holidays -I’m still smiling!
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Tim Bray July 9th, 2009

I'd like to acknowledge Amanda Rees as director on this show - she worked with me on a revision of the script, and brought a wonderful vision, a great cast and some deft creative touches to the show, and worked with Michael Knapp and Chantelle Gerrard our designers, for a great look.

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