Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

10/03/2023 - 11/03/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details

William BJ Robinson

The Pandemusical Diaries recounts the Spring 2020 shelter-in-place life for a queer arts educator, who often pairs parody and show tunes as their own sort of music therapy.

This 45-minute show is filled with laughter, tears and quite a few musical earworms!

San Diego Tour Ready Award Winner 2022.

Hannah Playhouse, 12 Cambridge Terrace, Te Aro, Wellington
Thursday 9 March, 7.00pm
Friday 10 – Saturday 11 March, 9.30pm

Theatre , Solo , Cabaret , Musical ,

45 min

A musical masterpiece we can all relate to, laugh and cry along to

Review by Talia Carlisle 12th Mar 2023

The thought of reliving the 2020 lockdown seems an unpleasant idea to avoid at all costs. But it’s the Fringe Festival and nothing is as it seems.

The Pandemusical Diaries delves into a much discussed topic that has and still is impossible to avoid – The Covid pandemic – and translates our trauma into a musical masterpiece not to be missed. So watching an original pandemic-themed musical on a Friday night is definitely the best idea, and certainly the best possible place to be, far away from my house, my work and my worries.

Such gatherings became forbidden in 2020 after March brought us all news that would forever change our lives, relationships with courier drivers, and our credit card balances in an instant.

Hearing the lockdown experiences of San Diego music teacher William BJ Robinson during this time, in The Pandemusical Diaries at Hannah Playhouse, this is a reminder of our past Covid drama and trauma we all share, and one person’s way of dealing with it, so that we can all relate, laugh and cry along.

The Pandemusical Diaries shows the possibilities and importance of how we frame our thoughts and experiences, by demonstrating how William chose the thoughts and actions that saw him struggle and strengthen up through isolation – and also enabled him to create something poignant from the experience: a musical masterpiece we can all relate to, laugh and cry along to.

He sings to us through parodies of Hamilton and other musical favourites, while singing along to his own social media posted videos that demonstrate his ‘Shot’ or ‘Test’, to pull through to better days.  

It is therapeutic to gather the emotions, memories and trauma we all felt in some way during lockdown, and compile them into where we end up today, together at Hannah Playhouse. These therapeutic elements for William come through in the music, comedy and parody of songs, and spread through his loyal followers on social media, some of whom are in the enthusiastic crowd tonight.

Where others saw only desperation, William saw an opportunity to turn his troubles into YouTube videos, and turn many, many Hamilton songs into Covid parodies, which uplift the social media world, and get the entire Hannah Playhouse on their feet for a standing ovation. The Pandemusical Diaries demonstrates one life, but also all of our lives during this time, with detailed reminders on the impacts it had, on nurses, protestors, Trump supporters and the rest of the world.

All 50 of us in tonight’s performance hang onto every word and sequined or rainbow outfit, captivated by William’s conviction, charisma and courage in a dark and unknown time. Wellington Fringe-goers (and Victoria University students) next to me clap, cheer and “aww” over William’s heartfelt and melodic delivery in this beautiful open venue I’m grateful to be in after its long closure – which suddenly seems not as long as lockdown felt.

As a musical theatre performer and writer, I am always intrigued to see new musical works and Fringe is the perfect opportunity to see something fresh. I will be following William’s Instagram page closely from now on for more musical and melodramatic content which we can all benefit from. You can too by following @willbjrob to a brighter, more musical and sparkling world.


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