The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

25/09/2006 - 07/10/2006

The Pumphouse, Auckland

11/04/2011 - 30/04/2011

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

16/04/2016 - 30/04/2016

Production Details

Based on the books written by Ronda and David Armitage
with text by Ronda Armitage and adapted for the stage by Tim Bray
directed by Tim Bray

with an original song by Christine White
incidental music by NICK GARRETT


Tim Bray Productions presents ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch’
with text by Ronda Armitage and adapted for the stage by Tim Bray.

Based on the hugely popular series of stories of Mr Grinling the Lighthouse Keeper, Mrs Grinling and Hamish, their cat. This show cleverly blends the different stories into one entertaining show. Reproduced by kind permission of Scholastic Ltd, London, UK.
Group and family concession prices available at box office and via phone booking – group and family concessions are not available online.

Event Details
Date: Monday, 25 September 2006 – Saturday, 7 October 2006
Time: 10.30am & 12.30pm daily. No shows Sun 1/10
Location: Takapuna, North Shore, Auckland
Venue: The PumpHouse Theatre

Booking Info
Cost: All tickets $16.90. Family conc. $62.00+BF
Booking website:
Booking phone: 09 489 8360, Tues-Fri, 10am-2pm

2011 season
Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch Marks 20 years of Children’s Theatre for Tim Bray

The delightful tales of the Lighthouse Keeper, his wife Mrs Grinling, Hamish the cat and the greedy seagulls comes to life on the stage in the April school holidays.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch is at the PumpHouse Theatre in Takapuna from 11-30 April. The stage show is a humorous adaptation of Rhonda and David Armitage’s much-loved series The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Tea and The Lighthouse Keeper’s Rescue. The three tales are cleverly blended into one entertaining and funny show.

The play stars four of the five original cast members from the 2006 production of the show; Paul Norrell as Mr Grinling, Madeline Lynch (Snake and Lizards) as Mrs Grinling, Natasya Yusoff (The Twits) and Jonathan Martin.

Jonathan Martin was due to appear in a production at the Court Theatre in Christchurch, however following its cancellation after the recent earthquake, he found himself in Auckland at a loose end. Fortunately for him, just as rehearsals were to commence, another actor pulled out of the show and Jonathan found himself with a job.

Also featuring in The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch is James Kupa – new to Tim Bray Productions, as well as TV3 newsreader Hilary Barry who makes a cameo appearance as herself in a television clip.

Children are encouraged to dress up as characters from the play and join an onstage parade to show off their costumes. Additionally, older children are encouraged to make lighthouse models to exhibit in the art exhibition displayed at The PumpHouse, while younger children are encouraged to create a collage of food inspired by the Lighthouse Keeper’s lunch basket.

The production marks the 20th birthday of Tim Bray Productions, a theatre company which specialises in presenting professional children’s theatre. Formerly known as The Central Theatre, the company began in 1991 following the closure of The Auckland Youth Theatre. Former student, teacher, director and performer, Tim Bray took over the lease and set up The Central Theatre in honour of actor and drama teacher Mary Amoore’s theatre in Remuera. In 2004 the name of the company was changed.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch
The PumpHouse, Killarney Park, Takapuna, Auckland
11-30 April at 10.30am and 1.00pm daily
Special gala opening on Saturday 16 April at 4.00pm.
There are no shows on Sundays, Friday 22 April and Easter Monday/ANZAC Day 25 April.

To book, phone 09 489 8360 or visit

Generous discounts are available for school and early childhood centre groups.
For more information on Tim Bray productions visit

On Stage in Auckland for April 2016 School Holidays

“It’s worth simply reiterating how entertaining and worthwhile this show is for all ages – some parents were as vocal as the kiddies!…another terrific holiday event from the master and his team.” Nik Smythe, Theatreview

The show reunites actors Paul Norell as Mr Grinling, Madeleine Lynch as Mrs Grinling and Natasya Yusoff as Hamish the Cat, who all performed in the 2006 and 2011 seasons of the show.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch is the first of four shows in the Tim Bray Productions’ 2016 season. This year Tim Bray Productions celebrates its 25th anniversary with more than 20,000 people enjoying the shows every year.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch 

the PumpHouse Theatre Takapuna, Auckland
Monday 11 April to Saturday 30 May
Gala opening performance on Saturday 16 April at 5pm.
Performance times
from 11-15 April are 10:30am and 1pm daily;
from 16-30 April at 10:30am and 2pm
(no shows on Sundays or on Anzac Day).
New Zealand Sign Language signed performances are on Thursday 14 April at 10.30am and on Saturday 16 April at 5pm.
An audio described performance and touch tour is on Friday 15 April at 12pm.

To book, phone (09) 489-8360 or online at

Children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite character for the onstage costume parade at every school holiday season performance.

Paul Norrell as Mr Grinling
Madeline Lynch as Mrs Grinling
Natasya Yusoff
Jonathan Martin
James Kupa
Hilary Barry (in TV news clip) 


By arrangement with Scholastic UK Ltd and Playmarket


Mr Grinling:  Paul Norell
Mrs Grinling:  Madeleine Lynch
Hamish the Cat:  Natasya Yusoff
Seagulls / Whales:  Rutene Spooner, Hadley Taylor
Inspector / Coastguard:  Rutene Spooner
Sam:  Hadley Taylor
Musician / Fisherman:  Nick Garrett
Simon Dallow:  Himself

(at selected Arts Access performances)
NZ Sign Language Interpreter:  Melissa-Sue Sutton
Audio-Description:  Kevin Keys

Director:  Tim Bray
Set Designer:  Rachael Walker
Lighting Designer:  Steve Marshall
Costume Designer & Construction:  Vicki Slow
Choreographer & Movement Coach:  Linda McFetridge
Stage Manager:  Jordan Keyzer
Set Construction:  Grant Reynolds, Zorp Films 
Whale Design and Construction:  Becky Ehlers, BE Creative 
Props:  Rachael Walker, Sarah Jansen, Kasia Marcisz 
Vocal Coach:  Sylvia Rands 
Lighting Operator:  Joshua Wilson, HLx Ltd 
Production Crew:  Joshua Wilson, Luke Finlay, Zach Howells, Austin Macein – all HLx Limited 

Front of House Manager:  Alana Hawkes 
Ushers:  Tanya Davis, Rutene Spooner, Hadley Taylor, Brittany Cole, Rebecca Ansell, Dominique Ansell 
Video Footage:  TV1 and Chillbox Creative 
Teachers’ Resource Guide         Rosemary Tisdall, Getting Kids Into Books 
Publicity:  Sally Woodfield – SWPR
Publicity Photography:  Nick Clarke, Nick Clarke Photography
Rehearsal Photography:  David Rowland, 
Trailer and full length video:  Chillbox Creative 
Illustration:  James Stewart 
Website Design:  Austin Digital
Print Design:  Stefania Sarnecki-Capper, Red Design

Theatre , Musical , Family , Children’s ,

Nautical nostalgia for the ever young at heart

Review by Dionne Christian 21st Apr 2016

My heart nearly broke when, last year, my firstborn announced she was “too old” for children’s theatre now she’d reached double digits but there was solace in Miss Six saying she’s not too old and intends to keep going “forever”.

She’s doubly sure of that after Saturday evening’s performance of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, produced by Tim Bray Productions which, for 25 years, has been making excellent shows for young theatre-goers and the adults fortunate enough to accompany them. [More]


Make a comment

A very satisfying theatrical experience for everyone

Review by Leigh Sykes 17th Apr 2016

Tim Bray productions is celebrating twenty-five years of producing theatre for children, by bringing back some favourite shows from their repertoire. The gala performance begins with a costume parade and ends with a raffle, some heartfelt speeches and a chance to mingle with the cast and crew. In between, we have a show that hits the mark with all sections of the audience. 

My nine-year-old companion is intrigued from the moment we sit down. The set (designed by Rachael Walker), with its red and white striped lighthouse in one corner, and a bed with its red and white striped cover in the opposite corner, looks bright and exciting. It is lit (by Steve Marshall) brightly and colourfully, emphasising a cartoon-like quality that is echoed in a very good way throughout the rest of the show in the characters, their costumes (designed by Vicki Slow) and their performances.

There are plenty of small items on the set to draw our attention and make us wonder what will happen during the show. My young companion is especially interested in the small boat moored at the front of the stage and guesses – correctly as it turns out – that it will be able to move once the show gets underway.

The sound of waves and seagulls invites us into the small but perfectly formed world of Mr and Mrs Grinling (Paul Norell and Madeline Lynch): the Lighthouse Keeper and his wife. Both performers skilfully tread a line that makes their characters attractive to both the young and older members of the audience.

The younger people appreciate Mrs Grinling’s attempts to stop her husband snoring and enjoy the silliness of Mr Grinling struggling to solve the problem of carrying two pots of paint and a paintbrush at the same time. Later in the show, the older audience members appreciate the sense of pathos both Norell and Lynch manage to bring when it looks like they might have to leave their beloved home and lighthouse.

The Grinlings share their cottage with Hamish the cat (Natasya Yusoff), whose behaviour is instantly recognisable to any cat owner. He gets underfoot and yowls pitifully when hungry, he hogs the bed and falls asleep anywhere, and goes slightly loopy when playing with a squeaky toy. Yusoff does a marvellous job in making Hamish an integral part of the household, and manages to steal quite a few scenes along the way. 

Mr and Mrs Grinling have a comfortable routine, with Mr Grinling rowing his small boat to the lighthouse every morning. The audience loves the fact that the boat is cleverly ‘rowed’ across the stage, and I love the fact that Mr Grinling is visibly safety conscious and makes sure his life jacket is on every time he climbs into the boat!

Once Mr Grinling is at the lighthouse, Mrs Grinling begins the task of preparing the loveliest lunch for him. Unfortunately for her, getting it to him becomes the central problem of the first of the three stories that are cleverly woven together to make up the show. 

Using the wire pulley between the cottage and the lighthouse, Mrs Grinling sends her beautifully packed basket off, only to find that the local seagulls (Rutene Spooner and Hadley Taylor) are keen to steal the food she has so lovingly prepared.

Spooner and Taylor become instant audience favourites with their mixture of ‘slacker’ seagull speech and contemporary/jazz-style movement. Their joy at stealing the food is infectious and, although we feel a little sorry for the hard-working Mrs Grinling, we look forward to the seagulls’ arrival and their catch-phrase of “Let’s fly”.

In a classic comedy structure, Mrs Grinling’s first two attempts to stop the seagulls from stealing the food fail, with their entrances becoming more and more detailed as the scene goes on. On the third attempt, Mrs Grinling finally finds a solution to the problem, much to the disgust of Hamish and the seagulls, while the audience finds the effects on the seagulls extremely funny. 

The second section of the show sees a tired Mr Grinling falling asleep on his way to the lighthouse and having to be rescued by the coastguard. The consequences of this introduce us to the Lighthouse Inspector (Rutene Spooner), whose physicality and behaviour is a source of delight for the entire audience. The Inspector is not a sympathetic character, but Spooner makes him a memorable one.

The props (courtesy of Rachael Walker, Sarah Jansen and Kasia Marcisz) in the scene that follows are a joy. Manipulated by Spooner and Taylor, the whales bring a real sense of theatrical magic to the proceedings that allows us to be fully drawn into the action. The Grinlings’ encounter with the whale, ably assisted by Hamish the cat, leads to a One News report hosted by Simon Dallow (as himself): a real highlight that has the audience roaring with laughter. 

The final section of the show introduces us to Sam (Hadley Taylor), the assistant lighthouse keeper, who allows Mr Grinling to have some much-needed leisure time. Mrs Grinling struggles to cope with both Mr Grinling and Hamish under her feet, and so Mr Grinling decides to learn some new skills. 

The surfing sequence with Sam and then Mr Grinling is very cleverly created and the performers commit to it totally. The fun that they have is infectious and the audience enjoys seeing the characters ‘let their hair down’. 

My companion’s eyes are shining as the show comes to an end and when asked if he has enjoyed himself, the answer is much emphatic nodding. Much of the joy of this show is seeing (and hearing) the younger audience members having such fun, but it is also a very satisfying theatrical experience for everyone there.

The performers understand their characters and their audience and make sure that all age groups are included in the fun of the show. This is a lovely family experience for the school holidays and I encourage you to be part of the fun.


Make a comment

Another terrific holiday event from the master and his team

Review by Nik Smythe 17th Apr 2011

It appears to be Children’s Theatre Encore season, judging by John’s review of Badjelly The Witch in Wellington. Up our way it’s an anniversary too: twenty years since the inception at Central Theatre (now Basement) of Tim Bray productions. Since 1991 they have had original plays running virtually every school holidays, as well as performing to school groups each side of the holiday break.

It’s a sort of encore/anniversary for me too: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch was the first Tim Bray Theatre play production I ever reviewed, four and a half years ago! I wasn’t actually expecting quite such a similar show, given the cast is almost identical right down to Hilary Barry’s onscreen cameo – whom I just now noticed I’d errantly credited as Maggie (d’oh!) [now fixed – ed].

The set seems a somewhat slicker execution of an identical design (Vicki Slow), and the ingenious props and gadgetry: basket pulley, rowboat, beached whale etc, not to forget the title set-piece, a 5m tall red and white striped lighthouse that really works!

The core roles of said Keeper Mr. Grinling and his devoted housewife Mrs. Grinling are welcomely reprised and joyfully acted by Paul Norell and Madeleine Lynch. Pleasant, simple folksy types happily ensconced in their daily routine, they don’t mope around for very long when everything goes pear-shaped and Mr Grinling is particularly up for rising to new challenges.

Inevitably, and justifiably, the highlight for most of us is Natasya Yusoff’s sweetly irascible Hamish the Cat; both her feline-spirit channelling performance and the awesome ginger tom costume courtesy of Kneel Halt. 

All other supporting turns are covered with charm and wit by Jonathan Martin and James Kupa, bonus nods going to their hard case street-kid seagulls. Brad Gledhill’s lighting provides palpable visual atmosphere, such as the genuinely sleepy early morning scenes. And musician Kristie Addison’s definitive score reminds us once again that there’s no substitute for a live soundtrack. 

So that’s it really, little else to say that I didn’t cover last time around. It’s worth simply reiterating how entertaining and worthwhile this show is for all ages – some parents were as vocal as the kiddies! It also warrants mention that the Pumphouse Theatre is a brilliant little venue in its serene and picturesque lakeside locale. 

Unfortunately due to another engagement my now nearly-nine year old son couldn’t make it so I can’t compare his response to his four-year old one to the original. Nevertheless, another terrific holiday event from the master and his team; may they continue and prosper for twenty more years!
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


Make a comment

Charming, enthralling at times, with narcoleptic tendencies

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 29th Sep 2006

Based on the engaging Lighthouse Keeper series of children’s books by Ronda and David Armitage, this Tim Bray produced and directed play, brings to life some of their highlights with colour and song.

I always enjoy the fact the magic of the theatre starts and finishes in the foyer with a Tim Bray Production, with friendly costumed ushers guiding us to our seats, and some of the actors staying to entertain the young fans after the show. (Thank you Hamish The Cat: you made my daughter’s day)  

Paul Norell and Madeleine Lynch, excellent in the roles of Mr and Mrs Grinling, The Lighthouse Keeper and his wife, establish a warm rapport with the audience and each other. However, it is Hamish The Cat who has the kids enthralled. Natasya Yusoff plays the feline role superbly, and thanks to the cat creation team (Kneel Halt, Mem Bourke and Dale Taylor), she looks every bit the part as well.

Versatile musician Martin Ooi accompanies on keyboards and guitar, and while he’s still perfecting his craft, he adds a lively texture when needed, by playing Christine White’s compositions.

The entertaining seagulls – in particular Helen Barrett and Jonathan Martin – further provide an injection of liveliness. Martin is energized and suitably animated with all the characters he plays. On the technical front, set (Taylor), lights, sound & AV (Calvin Hudson), are well designed, well managed (Alana Tisdall and Barrett) and smooth.

With the added bonus of a cameo by Hilary Barry of TV3 News, this makes a charming hour of children’s entertainment, with some well directed moments, such as the interactive Whale Rider scene, that give a small group of children from the audience, a thrilling opportunity to be part of the action.

However, based on the reaction of the kids in the audience, there are pace issues compromising this otherwise delightful play. Attention spans waned as the story took too long to establish and develop. Given that sleeping dominates the plot, this was challenging for the younger members of the audience. Their wriggling and restlessness clearly indicated the moments in the play that need attention. While the moments of narcolepsy were mostly to blame, a more vivacious pace overall might keep the children’s focus throughout.

Notwithstanding the above, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch will cheerfully divert the kids these holidays and comes highly recommended – especially if your little ones love cats.


Make a comment

Sturdily tender

Review by Nik Smythe 28th Sep 2006

Greeted at the door by bright yellow raincoat-clad ushers (Helen Barrett and Maree Folwell: the first time I can remember seeing the ushers credited in a programme), we enter to behold Dale Taylor’s charmingly basic set:  Small bach-like house interior to our left, upstage on our right a stripy red and white lighthouse, and a video projection of the ocean on the large wrinkly screen that covers the back wall, all creating a timeless sort of by-the-sea atmosphere.

The title character, Herbert Grinling, is a salty middle-aged gentle giant playfully played by Paul Norell.  Madeline Lynch’s Mrs Grinling is the classic devoted wife and backbone of the home front.  The strength of their bond is clear, and strengthened further by the children’s favourite character, Hamish the ginger cat (Natasya Yussof).  Hamish is everycat: simultaneously cheeky, petulant and affable.  Whilst a bit too feminine to be a convincing tom, Yussof is nonetheless a most convincing cat, very much in character inside her enchanting costume. 

Jonathan Martin is notably versatile in three roles as selfish seagull, pompous coastguard inspector and the eminently likable Sam, the new lighthouse keeper.  Together the cast play openly to each other and the audience, delivering a matter-of-fact tale, without being patronising or arrogantly demanding attention; we are simply invited into their little part of the world.  To enhance this polite tone, the bouncy music and lyrics of Christine White, played by Martin Ooi and sung cheerily by the cast, fit the bill nicely.

The events of the story comprise three British picture-books by Ronda and David Armitage: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Rescue and The Lighthouse Keeper’s Tea;  I could tell the stories here but you can either come to the play or find the books and read them, or both; all three are on sale in the foyer for a reasonable sum. 

What I really want to talk about are the nifty props and gadgets provided by Stephanie Richardson, Anthena Hale, Emily O’Hanlon, and the obviously hard working Dale Taylor, also set & costume designer.  From seagulls on sticks and lunch-toting pulley systems to the Flintstone-style rowboat and the rotating lighthouse beam, the kiwi ingenuity is classically understated.  This isn’t Weta Workshops and it has fun not trying to be.

In general, I was struck by how quiet and unassuming this hour-long play is, in this age of manic in-your-face CGI and Xbox and so on.  Certainly this is a multimedia work with live music and the aforementioned video projection, which also presents a 3 News broadcast of an in-studio (the real studio) interview with the Grinlings and the real Hillary Barry, following a heroic whale-saving escapade.  Nevertheless, it had a very relaxed, cheerful feel enhanced by sturdily tender performances.  The children,s concentration waned more through the second half but overall I was impressed by how much attention they gave it.

Following the performance, the cast go beyond the call of duty and greet all the kids as they exit the foyer, completing the whole familial experience.  In conclusion, my four year-old son and I recommend The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch for providing effective relief from the uber-sensational hyperactive barrage of most modern children’s holiday entertainment.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council