Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

01/02/2017 - 05/02/2017

Production Details

A new family-focused Musical premiering in February from a new organisation and registered charity Bacchus Theatre Trust  

The Queen of Tarts tells the story of the hunt for the thief who has stolen the Queens’ own made tarts. Although the audience knows it is the Three Blind Mice the evidence unearthed by the King and Knave of Hearts, and the army generals, the Dukes of Pork (Lord Bacon and Lord Trotter) points to Humpty Dumpty being the thief.

After a search throughout the land, during which we meet other Nursery Rhyme characters, Humpty is arrested and put on trial. Eventually his innocence is proven and the chase begins to catch the real culprits.

The little flowers are learning their dances and being watered by Mary Contrary, the Ladies-in-Waiting (all Whitireia Music Theatre graduates) are combining their singing and dancing skills, and the Three Blind Mice are bumping in to the furniture.

The Queen is being impossibly demanding and channelling her inner diva, the Knave is cheeky, the King is trying to keep a lid on it all, and Humpty is trying to find somewhere to eat his tart in peace.

The Dukes of Pork (Lords Trotter and Bacon) are taking their soldiers up and down the hills, and bullying the Nursery Rhymes with food on their minds; Georgie Porgie, Tom Tucker, Simple Simon, Jack Horner and Little Miss Muffet.

Whitireia Performance Centre
25 – 27 Vivian Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Wednesday 1st February through to Sunday 5th February
6:30pm Wednesday to Saturday
1:30pm Saturday and Sunday
Tickets Sales and Enquiries:
Adults: $44.00
Students: $25.00
Children under 12: $15.00
Friends of Bacchus and Opera Society Members: $33.00
Family (2 adults & 2 children): $96.00

The Queen – Megan Corby 
The King – Daniel Clenott
The Knave – Chris Girven
Humpty Dumpty – Cochise Avei
Mary Contrary – Barbara Paterson
The Royal Cook – Moana Pember
Lord Bacon – Daniel Dew
Lord Trotter – William McElwee
The Three Ladies-in-Waiting – Francis Curd, Georgie Sullivan, Rebecca Tate

Plus a cast of over forty singers and dancers ranging in age from 6 to 70! 

Theatre , Musical , Family ,

Big bold start for Bacchus

Review by Ewen Coleman 07th Feb 2017

There’s a new theatre group just started up in town, Bacchus Theatre Trust, who’s [sic] aim is to present new plays and musicals by New Zealand writers, with a particular emphasis on youth theatre.

And their first offering, The Queen of Tarts, pushes all these buttons and many more. Highly original with a range of musical styles using a large cast of over 30 on stage, many of whom are in the younger age range, it is a fun filled, quirky musical with great appeal to all ages.

As the title suggests, the story is based around the nursery rhyme The Queen of Hearts whose tarts get stolen by the Knave of Hearts, but almost every known rhyme gets cleverly woven into the story [More


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An imaginative journey for all ages

Review by Jo Hodgson 02nd Feb 2017

In the fine tradition of old, Bacchus Theatre’s production of The Queen of Tarts continues the use of nursery rhymes as a medium to tell a story and teach a lesson – in this case: don’t jump to conclusions before you are sure of the facts.

Nursery rhymes have been part of our oral history since before the middle ages. People argue that they were used as a covert way to parody and make comment on politics and the ruling class, when one wasn’t allowed to speak out plainly or even to pass on the news of the time. For example, ‘Ring a Ring a Roses’ being about the Great Plague of London.

But for many they are the sing-song lilting rhymes our parents sang to us as babies, the rhymes we jump-rope to in the playground and then continue to pass on to our own children.

Paul Percy’s play The Queen of Tarts is based on one of these traditional rhymes, The Queen of Hearts, and in collaboration with composer Michael Vinten, it is now coming to life as a full musical.

In a nutshell – or to follow the use of the egg puns throughout the show, an eggshell – the ‘own made tarts’ of the Queen of Tarts (Megan Corby) are stolen and she is furious. She calls for the King (Danny Clenott) and the Lords of Pork (William McElwee and Daniel Dew), and their soldiers, to investigate further. The audience is privy to who (or ‘whom’ as the Queen teaches us) the culprits are but we certainly don’t let on. Interestingly, even though there are audience-assisting cue cards, we unanimously and instinctively decide not to support the impetuous Queen. 

The hunt is on to the top of the hill and down again for food-obsessed nursery rhyme characters. Could it be Little Jack Horner, Little Miss Muffet, Tommy Tucker or maybe even Humpty Dumpty (poignantly sung by Cochise Avei)?

The stage is very simply set with a few crafted platforms for added height to show a wall, a garden bed or a hill and each part of the castle, garden and local village is beautifully realised with cleverly designed animated backdrops. With such a large cast ranging from 6 to 70, the space is well filled with courtiers, flowers, bakers and nursery rhyme characters singing and dancing with great gusto.

The costuming is absolutely stunning. It’s like opening up a pop up story book. Bold, bright colours add to their over the top caricatures and the lighting design captures the essence of the scenes beautifully.

This production gathers together a mix of very new and some seasoned performers which adds to the audience’s viewing delight. Because these productions are being aimed for future performance in school theatre programmes, it is fitting that the cast has such a large children’s cast while also offering, for this premier performance, the opportunity for them to experience working with professional actors too. Seeing the admiration of the little flowers as they dance and sing with Mary, Mary Quite Contrary (Barbara Paterson) is heart-warming. 

Director Jacqui Coates, Musical Director Michael Vinten and Choreographer Sacha Copeland are fabulous practitioners in each of their roles and it is wonderful to see productions like these being written for enhancing the theatre programmes in school and the local community. 

The choreography is crafted with the ages in mind and yet provides enough challenge to make it interesting and snappy, with a great cameo tap dance from one of the cooks and a clever alphabetical call and response song and dance from the soldiers (unfortunately diction isn’t completely clear in this one). It’s always special to have a live orchestra and a little tweaking of the balance, particularly for the younger voices, will make it all the better. 

There is plenty of panto style humour, sometimes a little too repetitive, and some of these repeated gags could be shortened to make the story move a little quicker.

There is a range of catchy songs in differing musical styles composed by Michael Vinten, from Gilbert and Sullivan-esque to soaring lyric aria, plus the twang of music theatre, a touch of folk and a take on rap style. These are all punctuated with the traditional rhyme tunes – you have to keep a good ear out for all the motifs snuck in to the music – to keep this essential connection in the forefront of our minds.

My 6 year old is riveted from beginning to end and is so involved that she when the wrong character is put on trial she gets visibly upset at the injustice of it and shouts out ‘Not Guilty’ the second the audience is asked to choose. I think if a piece of theatre can take children and adults of all ages on a journey of the imagination then it is doing its job. 


Editor February 2nd, 2017

Here is the link to Jo Hodgson's review of THE QUEEN OF TARTS on RNZ.  

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