Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

11/04/2015 - 18/04/2015

Production Details


Watch out for The Lolly Witch

Auckland Theatre Company is taking audiences, young and old, back to the wacky world of Mumuland in the April and July school holidays. 

The talented writer of 2014’s hugely popular Polly Hood in Mumuland, Lauren Jackson and co-writer Lolo Fonua have dreamed up another raucous adventure in the madcap wonderland. However, while Polly Hood was based on the Little Red Riding Hood story, The Lolly Witch of Mumuland takes its inspiration from Hansel and Gretel.

Co-directed by Polly Hood‘s Alison Quigan and Troy Tu’ua, The Lolly Witch of Mumuland will have two seasons; the first at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku from 11 – 18 April and the second at Selwyn College Theatre from 9-14 July. 

Twenty-first-century kids Hans and Gertie, hungry for food and adventure, go on a journey to save their family from the breadline, but unfortunately end up in the clutches of a wicked, Zumba-dancing witch! With a little help from talking pigs, magical fairies and racing snails, and the always fabulous and ever-hilarious Aunty Sila, can Hans and Gertie sing and dance their way out of trouble, or will they end up as the Lolly Witch’s next sweet treat? 

Starring Faamanu Vaueli (Sinarella, Mixed Nuts) and Lavinia ‘Uhila (The Factory) in the lead roles – Hans and Gertie – and the hilarious Kate-Louise Elliot (Calendar Girls) as the infamous witch, The Lolly Witch of Mumuland is a new New Zealand work that, like Polly Hood, is set to become a classic Pasifika comedy for kids and adults alike. 

The supporting cast will form somewhat of a reunion from last year’s Polly Hood in Mumuland, as alumni from The Pacific Institute of Performing Arts take the stage. Other cast members include Samson Chan-Boon as Dad (Polly Hood in Mumuland, Goodbye My Feleni), Unaloto Funaki as Aunty Sila (Polly Hood in Mumuland), Tavai Faasavalu as Poaka Piggy (Polly Hood in Mumuland, The Factory, Tartuffe), and Luse su’a as Prudence Piggy (Polly Hood in Mumuland, Homes). Music will be performed by Joseph Taouma. 

With a chorus of 25, including children aged 10-15, consisting largely of young South Auckland talent, The Lolly Witch of Mumuland promises to deliver one of the zaniest journeys across Auckland. With a little bit of help from younger patrons, and a lot of imagination, audiences will be transported away from the mundane to a magical world. 


Dates: Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku a
11 – 18 April;
Tickets: or (09) 309 0390

Gertie: Lavinia 'Uhila 
Hans: Faamanu Vaueli 
Lolly Witch: Kate-Louise Elliot 
Aunty Sila: Unaloto Funaki 
Dad: Samson Chan-Boon 
Poaka Piggy: Tavai Faasavalu 
Prudence Piggy: Luse Su'a 

Musician: Joseph Taouma

Co-directors: Alison Quigan and Troy Tu'ua 
Set Design: Rachael Walker 
Costume Design: Sara Burren 
Lighting Design: Andrew Potvin   

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

Consummate showmanship and spirited vitality

Review by Nik Smythe 12th Apr 2015

This is my first foray into Mumuland, the magical Pasifika fairy world setting for this Auckland Theatre Company production.  The colourful adaptation of the classic Grimm Brothers folktale Hansel and Gretel is magical indeed; the sheer amount of energy, hilarity and music packed into one hour is simply incredible. 

Conceived by Lauren Jackson and Lolo Fonua, The Lolly Witch of Mumuland has two hungry siblings and a child-eating witchypoo with a house built from confectionary, but that’s about where the similarity to the source material ends, both narrative-wise and stylistically. It goes without saying that this rendition is generously ingrained with Pasifika culture, language and all-round flavour. 

With no money or gainful employment to sustain their family, Hans (Faamanu Vaueli) and Greta (Lavinia Uhila) take it upon them selves to venture into the Deep Dark Forest with their well-dressed pet pigs Poaka (Tavai Faasavalu) and Prudence (Luse Su’a) to find their entrepreneurial aunty in the hope she can give them work. 

The valiant protagonists’ playful turns are augmented by an accomplished supporting cast, including loving but anxious Dad (Samson Chan-Boon), the pig’s pint sized party-animal pal Popo (Aaron Ryan) and the aforementioned hefty, forthright Aunty Sila (Unaloto Funaki), twin sister of Hans and Gertie’s dear departed mother.

If a story is only as good as its villain, then the quality of this outrageously madcap tale is assured by Kate Louise Elliot’s eponymous Lolly Witch: sinister yet deviously charming, as needs must, with great singing chops to boot.  It’s impressive that her hatefulness stops short of actually terrifying the tinier kiddies in the audience; the overt cannibalism references, among other dark themes, are effectively balanced by the absolute fun-ness of everything that’s going on. 

Performing with joyful passion and consummate showmanship, the cast numbers over 30 – including the band, the fairies, the singing /dancing chorus – and ranges from first-timers to twenty-year veterans.  Judging by the sheer quantity of spirited vitality, it would seem directors Alison Quigan and Troy Tu’ua probably had more of a job reining in the players’ manic, infectious energy than needing to build any up. 

Musical directors Nastassia Wolfgram and assistant Sefa Taouma have created and curated an extensive soundtrack of classic and modern songs, plus a handful of original compositions, which altogether would easily fit a double album.  The awesome band features bass, guitar, two percussionists and multi-talented DJ ‘Flip the Script’, backing up the onstage action with deft musical prowess.

For a deep dark forest there’s a lot of colour going on in Rachael Walker’s appealingly ostentatious set design.  Costume designer Sarah Burren’s flamboyant collection likewise comprises a plethora of bright colourful spectacles, the trophy winner being Aunt Sila’s lurid sparkly yellow onesie in which she busts out the breaks in the climactic winner-take-all dance-off battle.

Predictably, The Lolly Witch of Mumuland unapologetically exploits the inherent sweet tooth in us all; no dietary-fable type overtones here.  The only clearly stated moral message is about the importance of allegiance to one’s family: a fine message indeed, along with other attendant themes like fighting for your freedom and not eating your best friends even if they’re pigs.


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