Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

30/09/2020 - 10/10/2020

Production Details

A musical drag extravaganza for children – the first of its kind in the world!  

Fierce, fabulous and fun for the whole family. The Glitter Garden makes its way to Circa Theatre this month for a strictly limited season from September 30 to October 10.

Created by TVNZ’s ‘House of Drag’ Winner Hugo Grrrl and award-winning director Dr. Lori Leigh, this kids’ theatre show aims to educate, empower and entertain young people through the art of drag.

Join Hugo the Gardener on Pride Parade as he attempts to embrace self-care, personal growth and planter boxes, all with the help of his glittering garden buds.

“Man alive I wish my son/his peers were able to see this stuff when he was a little girl, high-school would be a completely different place…” – Naenae Higgs, Audience Feedback

Recently crowned ‘Winner’ in Playmarket’s Plays for the Young competition, The Glitter Garden is a brand new story drawing inspiration from multiple artforms. It’s a dash of panto with a dose of musical theatre, all while staying true to its drag roots, making it one of the most original theatre productions you’ll see all year. Add to that some exquisite costume design, an eye-popping set, and an original score you’ll be singing long after you leave – The Glitter Garden is shining with production value.

The Glitter Garden is also for the ‘kids at heart’ too. Taking a leaf out of drag’s nightlife origins and its roots in Pantomime, this show has been written to tickle and entertain all ages with plenty of puns, cheeky references and satire that will have both the sprouts and fully-bloomed members of the crowd giggling along.

“I made this show because everybody loves sparkles. And because if I had seen this show as a kid it might have changed my life” — [George Fowler]

At its core, The Glitter Garden is more than a kids show, it’s about seeing the most authentic parts of yourself expressed on stage. It’s about embracing all the crayons in the colouring box and letting kids find solace in their imaginations. The boom of drag is a cultural phenomenon that is sweeping the world. From RuPaul’s Drag Race to TVNZ’s House of Drag , Rainbow Readings and Drag Brunches, drag has come to the forefront of mainstream art and entertainment, and young audiences and adults are flocking to it.

“It’s drag shows that helped my son become him, it’s people like yourself and your children that help him remember the whole world isn’t all dark” – [Naenae Higgs, Audience Feedback]


This show is potted with catchy tunes and arrangements by non-binary composer Maxwell Apse. The homegrown and heart-warming soundtrack is performed live by Hugo the Gardener with his supporting cast of characters lip-syncing to the pre-recorded vocal stylings of Apse and local artists Stevie Hancox-Monk (A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs, Hole ) and Pippa Drakeford-Croad (Playshop, How to Write An Album in 12 Hours ) .


We’re all in this together. We know the positive contributions live theatre makes to people’s wellbeing and are particularly conscious of it in 2020 when live theatrical experiences have been few and far between. In keeping to its kaupapa of spreading joy and self-acceptance to as many people as possible, The Glitter Garden team have capped all tickets at $15 to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to see it.

With some careful planning for a socially distant audience we have been able to ensure the show goes on in levels 1 and 2. This makes it one of the largest and most colourful shows in New Zealand’s current theatrical landscape to flourish in spite of the current climate.

We have an option to support the The Glitter Garden and its busy bees grow and flourish. Choose to book as a “Glitter Guardian” for $50 and the additional proceeds go directly to Circa Theatre, the show’s artists, and future seasons of this production.

The Glitter Garden makes its theatrical debut in Wellington with national tours and productions in the works for 2021. Circa Theatre and The Glitter Garden team are proud to be a part of Aotearoa’s resilient and headstrong performing arts community that continues, despite the odds, to bring high-quality theatre to the Capital.

The cast features some of New Zealand’s finest drag performers including Hugo Grrrl (George Fowler), The Everchanging Boy (Bjorn Aslund), Robin YaBlind (Monique Walford) and Eva Goodnight (Nick Erasmuson). Designed by some of the industry’s leading designers including Lucas Neal, Sean Coyle, Marcus McShane and Victoria Gridley (Royal New Zealand Ballet), and produced by Nathan Mudge, The Glitter Garden is nurtured by the best.


The Glitter Garden is excited to be growing beyond the boards and blooming into a children’s book. Written by George Fowler and Lori Leigh with illustrations by the phenomenal Phillippa Clark, The Glitter Garden picture book will be available to purchase at the performance and on Hugo Grrrl and The Glitter Garden’s social media channels. Keep your ears tuned for an official soundtrack too!

The Glitter Garden stars Hugo Grrrl, Eva Goodnight, The Everchanging Boy, Robin YaBlind and features an original score by Maxwell Apse.

Circa One  
30 Sep – 10 Oct
Tues – Sat 11am & 6.30pm;
Sun 4th Oct 4pm
All tickets are $15
Suitable for all ages and aimed at children aged 3 – 8 years 

Book Now!

Become a Glitter Guardian* for $50 to support this show and help its artists flourish.

*Glitter Guardian tickets: To help The Glitter Garden and its busy bees grow and flourish, you can choose to book a “Glitter Guardian” ticket. Proceeds from ticket prices directly impact the show makers and the future of the work – we are incredibly grateful to our Glitter Guardians for the extra sparkle they gift our team.

Accessibility at Circa!
We have a Relaxed Performance of The Glitter Garden on Tuesday 6 Oct at 11am.  Please contact for more information!

Part of WTF! 2020

Developed in partnership with Auckland Live, with assistance from Playmarket. 

Writers George Fowler and Lori Leigh

Director Lori Leigh

Producer Nathan Mudge

Consulting Producer Beth Taylor

Stage Manager Pauline Ward

Assistant Stage Manager Tyler Clarke

Marketing Manager Ben Emerson

Composer Maxwell Apse

Sound Designer Maxwell Apse

Costume Designer Victoria Gridley

Lighting Designer Marcus McShane

Set Designers Sean Coyle and Lucas Neal

Illustrator Philippa Clark

Operator Deb McGuire

Audio Mastering Jake Stokes of Apollo Music

Graphic Designer Ben Emerson

Hair & Wigs Harlie Lux

Photographer Roc Torio of Roc+ Photography

Voice Artists Maxwell Apse, Pippa Drakeford-Croad, Stevie Hancox-Monk

Costume Technician s Victoria Gridley

Alannah Martin

Costume Assistants Danielle Fredrickson

Bailey Koller Schmidt

Tui Taiaroa-Smithies

Performers Hugo Grrrl (George Fowler)

Eva Goodnight (Nick Erasmuson)

Robin YaBlind (Monique Walford)

The Everchanging Boy (Bjorn Aslund)

Developed in partnership with Auckland Live, with assistance from Playmarket.

Sponsored by Creative NZ, Circa Theatre and Victoria University of Wellington.

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

Blooming into life

Review by Jo Hodgson 01st Oct 2020

At a time when events and live performing is on very tenuous footing around the world, how wonderful is it that here in New Zealand the very first drag musical for kids, The Glitter Garden, written by George Fowler and Lori Leigh is blooming into life. What a perfect way to herald in our Spring!

Recently crowned ‘Winner’ in Playmarket’s Plays for the Young competition, Circa is all a-buzz with expectation and excitement.

On a colourful set (designers Sean Coyle and Lucas Neal) reminiscent of a glorious pop up Old McDonald’s farm book with evocatively magical lighting (Marcus McShane), Hugo the Gardener (Hugo Grrrl/George Fowler) tells us of his wishes to create the perfect garden like his neighbours, and to help it grow as he believes it should, or how everybody else thinks it should, but things aren’t going to plan.

So with the help of magical garden friends, Skipper the Snail, Honey the Bee and Maddie the Butterfly, the Mud Buds and Flower Buds, Hugo learns to follow his heart, take support from friends, be kind, respect and to ultimately trust in himself, be himself and to not give up even when it’s hard.  

Immediately the upbeat predominantly original songs by composer Maxwell Apse capture us, and combine with the inspiring lyrics (George Fowler and Lori Leigh) and the heartfelt storytelling by Hugo in a very down to earth, fun and vibrant way.

While sung live by Hugo, the characters of Hugo’s magical world, superbly lip-synch a-la drag cabaret style to the excellently pre-recorded vocals of Maxwell Apse, and local artists Stevie Hancox-Monk and Pippa Drakeford-Croad.

Every performer brings their own nuance, sass and attitude as fitting to their multiple characters. The Lumieresque frenchness of Skipper the Snail by Robin Yablind (Monique Walford), Eva Goodnight’s (Nick Erasmuson) effervescent Honey Bee and The Ever Changing Boy’s (Björn Åslund) lithe and sensual Maddie the Butterfly.  Completely self-choreographed, all the performers own the stage in all the many stylistic moves required for capturing the essence of the range of musical genres on offer.

Favourites for us are the hip-hopping Mud Buds and their Dirty Werk. The stunning balletic Maddie the Butterfly performing Spread your Wings with a very strong appropriate nod towards Rachel Platten’s Fight Song.  

With plenty of audience interaction throughout (panto style), the cast have us up and dancing in the finale Your New Buds and it feels like this opening night audience is linked together in a unity of joyful acceptance.  
Hugo Grrl is adept at fielding the various curve balls thrown his way!!

(I am assured by friends who have seen the show today, that an audience predominantly full of children are just as loud and interactive as the mainly adult theatre-savvy audience on opening)

The gentle lessons of acceptance of ourselves and others are expertly layered like a healthy compost with poignancy, cheeky humour, reflection, enormous choreographic energy, sumptuous costuming (Victoria Gridley) and a near tangible truth and belief in the message.

Even writing this review, I realise how often I am doubting myself, so I said to my kids, I need to take a lesson from the show and not become ‘frozen in a hole’ and fearful of starting and getting it wrong and to write from my own heart which is truly where this show is being performed from.

‘My perfect is my own and doesn’t have to be the same as another person’s perfect’ (sorry not quite a direct quote from the script but it is along these lines and so true).

For so many who have grown up without acknowledgement to be who they feel they are, this show gives permission. For our kids who we are guiding to trust their own heart and respect others, this show cements this message.

In a time of even more uncertainty and the ugly exchanges that emanate from this place of fear, this show is slick, real and needed.

A perspective from my 9 year old:

I loved it!! It was great because they used a lot of props and makeup to show the characters emotions to make the show realistic.
I loved how the Snail acted their sadness when Hugo was mean. I liked how the director used the three actors (playing the magical creatures) in very different characters.

Hugo learned a very important lesson. He learned how to look after the environment and believe in himself and not to underestimate people or snails, as they can be helpful eating all the rotten leaves away, not just the veges!
The music has a lot of emotion in it and I loved the ‘lip-mouthing’ and answering questions and dancing!

So download the album (Bandcamp) and get along to see this show these holidays. You will NOT regret it. In fact if the subtle change in observing our interactions as a family today is anything to go by, I think the messages sown have embedded themselves even more.  


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council