Wānaka Community Hub, 34 McDougall St, Wanaka

15/04/2021 - 17/04/2021


Production Details

“When in doubt, sing loud.”

From playwright Ro Bright and director Kitan Petkovski, the team behind the multi-award-winning Kiwi heartbreaker Daffodils, comes a new uplifting small-town family story performed with the help of a mass choir, with songs composed by Pat Irwin (The B-52s, SUSS).

The Greer household is a battlefield, overflowing with ant armies, wine gums and decades of hoarded fashion. Alison’s universe is centred around caring for her daughter Billie and mother Tup. Surrounded by chaos, Billie discovers a YouTube video that sets the trio on a mission to find a choir big enough to make Tup’s eyes pop.

Premiering at the Festival of Colour in collaboration with Voices Aotearoa and locally-sourced community singers, The Hall brings audiences and choirs together in a ceremonious and frank story about unconditional love. 

Proudly Supported by: Marsh Family Charitable Trust

Wānaka Community Hub, 34 McDougal St, Wānaka  
April 15 & 16, 2021
Bannockburn Hall, 18 Hall Road, Bannockburn
April 17, 2021

Theatre , Musical ,

1 hr 10 mins

A sensitive and powerful insight

Review by Viv Milsom 16th Apr 2021

The Hall is a powerful piece of theatre. Set in small-town New Zealand, the Greer household is a battlefield, as Alison struggles with the chaotic challenge of caring for her mother, Tup, who has frontotemporal dementia, while at the same time caring for her teenage daughter, Billie, who suffers from panic attacks.  Both Serena Cotton as Alison and Timmie Cameron as Billie are convincing in their roles, while Donogh Rees never falters as Tup.

Set in the round, the audience is already close to the action, but this sense of intimacy is further enhanced by some glorious sacred harp singing. A traditional American form of community choral music, where the singers sit facing each other, sacred harp began in New England some 200 years ago, before later spreading across the southern states. Ro Bright discovered this powerful form of music at a convention in Manhattan, and was so deeply moved by the experience she sought to incorporate sacred harp in her own theatre work. 

Dementia patients often respond positively to music and for Tup, in The Hall, sacred harp had been an interest for her through her life. So Alison and Billie decide the best way to recapture the old Tup could be by using the sacred harp experience.  

Enter Voices Aotearoa, from Auckland, who, under the masterful leadership of Nick Forbes combine with local singers to bring Pat Irwin’s sacred harp music alive. Spread across the audience, these singers add an intriguing and powerful dimension to the production. 

Though somewhat far-fetched, Alison and Billie’s plan to take Tup to Ireland to attend a sacred harp convention in Cork leads to the play’s climax. The trip cannot reverse Tup’s dementia but it does give the family one final opportunity to experience the Tup they have known and loved, before her inevitable further decline and death. 

Dementia is the third largest cause of death in New Zealand. The Hall gives us a sensitive and powerful insight into the challenges families face in coping with this most tragic of illnesses.


Pepe Becker April 19th, 2021

Hi there, as a member of Voices NZ (named in this instance as Voices Aotearoa), I just wanted to point out that - as the name implies - the singers come from all around Aotearoa/NZ. For this particular combination of 'Voices', there were singers from Wellington, Auckland and Invercargill... not just Auckland.
Voices NZ is a nationally-auditioned professional choir that varies in number according to the vocal requirements of each concert/show/recording project. For this play, there were 9-11 of us performing; for 'Taonga Moana' (also presented at the Wanaka Festival of Colour this year), we were 16 singers; other concerts/gigs involve 24, or up to 60-70 singers.

Also, we thoroughly enjoyed being part of this amazing and moving show! I hope more audiences will have a chance to see it in future... Ngā mihi, Pepe :-)

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