Te Auaha, Tapere Iti, 65 Dixon St, Wellington

26/02/2021 - 28/02/2021

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details

The Pāua Ballads

Come and join a motley crew as stage a musical fuelled by backstage dramas, thriving emotions and spontaneous songs. Will they pull themselves together by opening night, or will the music of life take over? It’s a new, improvised musical every night, created just for you!

The Musical: The Musical is presented by The Pāua Ballads, a collection of Pōneke’s most talented musical improvisers from across the local improv scene. After a hit debut at NZ Improv Festival 2020 (nom. Most Joyous Moment), The Pāua Ballads are thrilled to bring you an exclusive, three night season in NZ Fringe 2021, 26-28 Feb @ Te Auaha.

Starring: Wiremu Tuhiwai, Bethany Miller, Pippa Drakeford, Matt Hutton, Austin Harrison, Malcolm Morrison, and muso Ben Kelly.

Te Auaha (Tapere Iti)
26-28 Feb 2021
Book at:

Cast and Creators:
Wiremu Tuhiwai, Bethany Miller, Pippa Drakeford, Matt Hutton, Austin Harrison, and Malcolm Morrison.

Musician: Ben Kelly
Lighting: Darryn Woods
Producer: Bethany and the rest of The Pāua Ballads

Theatre , Musical , Improv ,

1 hr

Whimsical storytelling with drama, pathos and intrigue

Review by Ines Maria Almeida 28th Feb 2021

The Musical: The Musical is the brainchild of The Pāua Ballads, a motley crew of Wellington’s most talented musical improvisers such as Bethany Miller, Wiremu Tuhiwai, Pippa Drakeford, Matt Hutton, Austin Harrison, and Malcolm Morrison (and the talented Ben Kelly on the piano).

For three nights only, the audience is the Master Director, working with the talent on stage by giving them direction on the mostly improvised script. So, as they say in their own words, “If the show sucks, it’s your fault.” Fair enough.

On our night, the loudest in the crowd manage to sway the crew into singing and dancing their way through Coriander Curry: The Musical. There are orphans and sous-chefs. Even a butcher and the Director General of Health (but Ashley Bloomfield is nowhere to be seen) are up and dancing in this choose-your-own-adventure musical. 

After the catchy intro, the musical lags a bit before picking up the tempo and finding its groove. There are too many slower ballads, though the Orphan’s song is one of the best of the night.

While everyone on stage is hugely talented, there are some standouts like Pippa, who is hilarious but needs to work on that accent (is it Dutch or British? Or is it South African?) and Bethany, whose energy seems to propel the entire show forward.

Every night, it’s a different musical, so it’s luck of the draw getting a storyline that works. In this one, our two protagonists are fighting over coriander, a polarising herb indeed. Wiremu hates it, and Bethany loves it. Drama ensues.

You know improv is getting it right when it makes you think it’s easy. These actors effortlessly take sub-par suggestions and turn them into whimsical storytelling with drama, pathos and intrigue. Even when the Covid-19 alert goes off on our phones, buzzing through the entire room in unison close to the end of the show, they manage to incorporate it with aplomb: Warning, coriander!  

Opening night is a full house and as we leave, I think about buying tickets for the following nights, just to see what The Pāua Ballads will do next. 


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