Coasters Theatre, Hinemoa Street, Paraparaumu

07/10/2016 - 08/10/2016

Production Details

A group of Kapiti residents have recently teamed up to create a new theatre company called Blue Bird Theatre. Rhonda Edwards, a retired teacher has written an adaptation of The Emperor’s Nightingale as a family show.

Apparently the original nightingale was the opera singer Jenny Lind, who Anderson was besotted with. Unfortunately his love remained unrequited, although they did later become friends. 

Our Nightingale is played by thirteen year old actress Holly Middlemiss, who recently starred as Jane in the local show Mary Poppins. She dances to the Nightingale’s music.

Our Emperor loves her music and is distraught when she leaves, after he replaces her with a mechanical bird.

The script is accompanied by a full musical score of dance and song, composed and recorded by local composer Michelle Scullion. “I composed and recorded the score here in my studio on the Kapiti Coast – filled with all sorts of sounds and various performances on an array of my flutes, and classical and funky instruments.”

The colourful show for Children, and “the Whole Family” is presented by actor Frank Edwards, a veteran of stage and television as the Emperor, Anna Burns from Capital E as the Narrator, and Lucy Edwards and Matt Clayton as the loyal servants – both experienced performers.

Also featuring Nik Edwards as the School Teacher.

The Edwards family recently moved to Kapiti and teamed up with their talented friends to create a fun show suitable for all the family at Coasters Theatre.

Coasters Theatre, 15 Hinemoa Street, Paraparaumu.
(The theatre is situated over the railway line and first turn to the left, and down the road a wee bit.)
Friday 7 October and Saturday 8 October 2016
11.00am and 1.00pm for both days. 
Bookings – phone or text Anna on 021 0243 0430.
Or, email:  

Starring Frank Edwards, Anna Burns, Matt Clayton and Lucy Edwards - AND - featuring Holly Middlemiss and Nik Edwards

Theatre , Musical , Family , Children’s ,

Energetic, enthusiastic, atmospheric fun

Review by Emily Regtien 08th Oct 2016

Storytelling for theatre is an art form which requires passion, enthusiasm and a subject matter chosen from the heart. The audience is required to use their imagination and enter this world willingly.  For children so much of today’s modern entertainment is technology based and does not require this engagement.  As a performer and mother myself, the wonder of a four year old reaching out to you as you run around on a stage “just to check if you are real” is magic.

The Emperor’s Nightingale is a story about an Emperor who acquires a nightingale and loves its music.  When a bejewelled mechanical bird is sent as a gift from another ruler, he becomes distracted by its beauty and single song.  The nightingale is forgotten and leaves. 

It is only when the mechanical bird breaks and the Emperor is ill that his servants seek the nightingale, capture it and bring it back to the palace. The nightingale cannot sing from a cage, but promises to share its song in freedom. The Emperor learns the lesson that real things matter and the nightingale is released.

Rhonda Edwards’ clever adaptation of this classic story brings fun, humour and the odd modern reference. Physicality-inspired character names like Lim Ping and Obsequious allow the actors full range to play. Audience participation and interaction, song, dance, puppetry and colourful bright costumes – all the hallmarks of children’s theatre are interweaved. 

What is unexpected is the Nightingale itself performed by a child (Holly Middlemiss), who dances but does not sing.  In fact when she does speak at the play’s close it is a lovely surprise and gives her message more weight.   

The cast is ably led by Frank Edwards’ Emperor Lim Ping in fine form (my children aged 3, 7 & 10 kept calling him “the funny king”) and Anna Burns, the narrator who draws us into the story with her words and presence.  The ensemble cast, completed by Lucy Edwards and Matt Clayton, are energetic, enthusiastic and demonstrate apt improvisation skills in coping well with the challenges of a children’s audience (i.e. crying baby).  

Michelle Scullion’s eclectic musical score provides wonderful atmosphere and is a highlight. However I wonder if having some music played live as part of the performance might add another element of interest and delight, particularly for the younger audience members.

The Emperor’s Nightingale is the first production of Bluebird Theatre a new company comprising a new-to-Kapiti Coast family and friends, who aim to bring us magical and very entertaining children’s theatre. Kapiti welcomes you and looks forward to the next instalment. In the words of my three year-old, upon leaving the theatre, “Next time can we go there again? That was fun!” 


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