Centrepoint, Palmerston North

12/11/2022 - 17/12/2022

Production Details

By Thomas Sainsbury and Chris Parker
Directed by Tessa Waters

A small-town community theatre group has just 24 hours to rehearse their show and get it ready for opening night – the biggest highlight on Levin’s calendar. Tensions run high as the show’s Broadway-aspiring director pushes for a new high-concept, Santa-free drama, while love blossoms backstage, and the stage manager plans a coup.

From the minds of Tom Sainsbury and Chris Parker, join us for an ‘opening night’ you won’t soon forget!

Please be aware this show may contain the use of smoke or haze machines, some flashing lights and some coarse language.

Please be aware that tickets are non-refundable. Any tickets for exchange must be returned to Centrepoint Theatre at least two days prior to the performance date. Under no circumstances will tickets be exchanged after the

Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North
12 November – 17 December 2022
Cheap Tuesday 22 Nov, 6.30pm
Wednesdays, 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday, 7.30pm
Sunday, 4pm
Student • $30
Subscription Package • $40
Concession* • $42; Early Bird $40
Adult • Full $50; Early Bird $45
Dinner + Show$90 – $95


Carrie Green (Ngāti Porou/Kāi Tahu)
Kate Louise Elliott (Rongowhakaata)
Andrew Paterson
Tom Knowles (Rongowhakaata)

Director: Tessa Waters
Set Designer: Sean Coyle
Lighting Designer: Henrique Beirao
Costume Designer : Sean Coyle
Set Construction: Harvey Taylor
Stage Manager: Belle Harrison
Operator: Jack Tankersley  
Sound Designer: Carrie Green, Jack Tankersley

Theatre ,

Cornball caper a cheesy Christmas cracker

Review by Richard Mays 23rd Nov 2022

Any show purporting to be about the preparation of a play for production never ever portrays rehearsal reality.

There’s little magic in the rehearsal process for any audience – which is why at the end of it all there is an event commonly referred to in the trade as ‘Opening Night’.

Opening night in this instance is the next day, when in front of a pre-booked full house the Levin Community Players are presenting the town’s annual Christmas pageant.

Christmas has to be the cheesiest corniest time of the year, and the reason Tom Knowles’ Russell Bush is so blasé about the one-day rehearsal is that he’s played this gig as Santa many times before.

Meat merchant (i.e., butcher) Russell knows just how to bring the house down with Santa’s trademark cheek spreading, backside blasting, bloomer bursting ‘fartissimos!’.

Joined by Carrie Green’s ingénue Sheree Mudge, the pair’s rehearsal expectations are overturned by director/writer/dramaturg Rosa-Lynne Martin Shanks played by Kate Louise Elliot, who has arbitrarily decided to do something a little more avant-garde this year.

‘Born-again’ luvvie Rosa-Lynne has been inspired by the ‘artistic and vibrant’ theatre scene in nearby Palmerston North and wants to expose the theatregoers of Horowhenua to her new visceral take on the festive season.

If only rehearsal could ever be this much whacko anarchic fun.

Now, despite the propensity for larger centres to mock smaller ones, let me point out that the Levin community theatre scene as lampooned in this show bears little resemblance to the actual ‘state of the play’ in that town.

Not only does Levin boast performing arts talent a-plenty, its practitioners also show an excellent appreciation of theatre styles and modern production values. Just sayin’.

Mind you, the ONBC cast also take the odd sly dig at themselves and their own pretentions.

So, back at Centrepoint’s ‘Pantoland’ – because while not panto in the traditional sense, that’s probably the nearest related genre – Rosa-Lynne’s new dramatic direction also takes Andrew Paterson’s stage manager Glenn Innes by surprise.

The resentful Glenn then spends much of the show indulging in what can only be termed litigiously malicious compliance, sabotage that includes reporting Rosa-Lynne to the Federated Amateur Rural Theatrics society.

Yes, them.

On Sean Coyle’s clever community hall set with its free-standing closed-door restroom on one side and utilities cupboard on the other, the characters push their hidden agendas and unleash their inner demons.

Rosa-Lynne is an underappreciated theatre visionary; Glenn a frustrated wannabe but talent-free actor; Russell a perpetual member of the lonely-hearts club; and Sheree an aerosol-huffing good-time gal pining for her glory days as the nine-year-old face of the ‘I Love Livin’ in Levin’ promo.

The performers handle these character tropes and slapstick opportunities with vivacious free-flowing aplomb – and then, enter the ‘name’ guest performer.

With a new personality every night, guests are given limited preparation time.

While lines are fed to them using a variety of ingeniously funny ‘art of coarse theatre’ cribbing devices, and are physically steered around the stage by Glenn’s ninja-clad stagehand, there’s plenty of opportunity for ad-lib improv larking about.

Guests have so far included the play’s co-writer, comedian Chris Parker; actors Sophie Hambleton and Maaka Pohatu; Alan Dingley and Leona Revell from improvising troupe Spontaneous; and former Centrepoint artistic director and actor Simon Ferry.

Numerous others are no doubt teed up in the wings, with each given a spot on the back page of the spoof programme for Rosa-Lynne’s Shadows of Levin: The dark side of Christmas.

For Centrepoint’s well-attended ‘Cheap as chips Tuesday’ it is cheeky Manawatū More-FM breakfast co-host Gareth Pringle, who acquits himself mischievously in a variety of makeshift roles.

Not even Rosa-Lynne’s attempt to explore ‘the dark side of Christmas’ by adding social commentary, gritty rap, a Christmas elves’ revolt and ‘death by mime’ can prevent this merry Advent romp from cheerily delivering its can of feelgood Christmas corn.

Oh, and the costumes do ‘look good’. And I could see all the actors – except at the beginning of act two when the lights failed to come up. Was that intentional? Glenn!


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