THE SHOWS MUST GO ON The Best of Broadway

Gisborne War Memorial Theatre, Gisborne

25/10/2020 - 25/10/2020

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

24/09/2020 - 26/09/2020

Production Details

NZ’s finest artists home from world’s biggest stages
Performing in one spectacular concert
Songs from your favorite musicals 

Touring New Zealand this September & October | Tickets on sale now

If there ever was a silver lining to lockdown, this is it!

New Zealand’s greatest musical theatre performers have returned home from Broadway, West End and other international stages for lockdown, and not content to sit idle any longer, today announce they’re sharing their amazing talents with us all in THE SHOWS MUST GO ON.

In one amazing production in 23 locations nationwide, six world-class artists will perform showstoppers from your favourite musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, The Greatest Showman, We Will Rock You and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

With stunning backdrops and theatrical staging, THE SHOWS MUST GO ON is a night set to delight. Tickets are on sale now. Check details below for performances nearest you.

Producer Dave Spark says THE SHOWS MUST GO ON is a rare chance to see and hear some of New Zealand’s greatest proponents of musical theatre.

“The idea sprang from having the artists at home plus having a lot of experienced technical teams out of work because border closure meant international acts could not get here. If there’s a silver lining to Covid, this is it. Such a rare opportunity for New Zealanders to enjoy the magic that Broadway and West End audiences do every day. Right here on their doorstep. You could say it’s the perfect storm for musical theatre aficionados!”

Hayden Tee who has made a name for himself globally with his stunning portrayal of Javert in Les Misérables on Broadway, London’s West End, Australia, Dubai and New Zealand. His extensive musical theatre work has also seen him play Marius in Les Misérables, and Miss Trunchbull in Matilda on London’s West End and around the globe.

After beginning her career as a jazz musician, Verity Burgess’ love of music and dance drew her to the world of musical theatre. Beginning her journey with a role in The Royal Shakespeare Company/North Music Trust’s UK production of West Side Story, Verity has performed in Cats, Children of Eden and the UK tour, West End production and international tour of Evita.

Akina Edmonds has gained recognition across the ditch with her powerful voice, joining the cast of major Australian tours of Buddy Holly the Musical, Avenue Q, Hairspray, An Officer and a Gentleman, Children of Eden, The Lion King, Beautiful; The Carole King Musical and Sister Act the Musical where she played the starring role of Deloris van Cartier.

In 2019, Akina took to The Voice Australia stage where she worked with Guy Sebastian and Boy George and progressed through to the Battle rounds.

With a career spanning three decades, Paul Ross has performed extensively throughout New Zealand, Australia and internationally. He performed in the international tour of Les Misérables, the original Australia, New Zealand and Asia touring production and the 10th anniversary Australian tour of Mamma Mia!, as well as Cats, My Fair Lady, The Pajama Game and SHOUT!He has recently been a headliner solo artist at various festivals, concerts and events on the international stage.

Having performed in musicals since she was 8 years old, Emily Burns tackled some spectacular roles within New Zealand before taking her talents overseas. She has been seen as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins, Eva Peron in Evita, Little Red in Into The Woods and Sophie in Mamma Mia! She has toured alongside the late Rob Guest in his Heartland Tour and currently performs on luxury cruise ships around the world.

Jack Fraser has a string of impressive musical theatre credits on his resume both here and overseas. He has performed as Che in Evita, Dr Dillamond in Wicked, Enjolras in Les Misérables and Khashoggi in We Will Rock You. Jack has also performed in The Sound of Music, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Mary Poppins, Aladdin and Our House.

At the helm of this spectacular cast is New Zealand’s leading musical theatre director, Stephen Robertson who has amassed an impressive resume of directing credits throughout the years including Chess, A Chorus Line, Grease, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Avenue Q, Evita, Les Misérables, The Mikado, Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar, Legally Blonde the Musical, Mary Poppins, Cats, Wicked, Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Miss Saigon. With Stephen’s theatrical eye, and these six incredible talents on one stage, musical theatre lovers are in for a treat.

Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to hear these voices unite on home soil before they head back overseas to continue delighting international audiences.

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
Thursday 24 – Saturday 26 September 2020
For all booking links:

Tuesday 29 September Ashburton: Ashburton Events Centre Ticket Rocket
Wednesday 30 September Oamaru: Oamaru Opera House Ticket Rocket
Friday 2 October Dunedin: Regent Theatre Eventfinda
Saturday 3 October Invercargill: Civic Theatre Ticketek
Sunday 4 October Gore: St James Theatre I Ticket
Monday 5 October Queenstown: Memorial Hall Eventfinda
Wednesday 7 October Nelson: Theatre Royal Eventfinda
Thursday 8 October Blenheim: ASB Theatre Ticketek
Saturday 10 October Wellington: Opera House Ticketmaster
Monday 12 October Paraparaumu: Performing arts Centre Eventfinda
Tuesday 13 October Palmerston North: Regent on Broadway Ticketek
Wednesday 14 October Whanganui: Royal Opera house Ticketek
Friday 16 October New Plymouth: TSB Showplace Ticketek
Saturday 17 October New Plymouth: TSB Showplace Ticketek
Tuesday 20 October Tauranga: Bay Court Theatre Ticketek
Wednesday 21 October Tauranga: Bay Court Theatre Ticketek
Thursday 22 October Auckland: Skycity Theatre I Ticket
Friday 23 October Auckland: Skycity Theatre I Ticket 
Saturday 24 October Rotorua: The Bay Trust Forum Ticketmaster
Sunday 25 October Gisborne: War Memorial Theatre Ticketekn 
Wednesday 28 October Hastings: Opera House Ticketek 
Friday 30 October Hamilton: Clarance St Theatre Ticketek
Saturday 31 October Hamilton: Clarance St Theatre Ticketek
Wednesday 4 November Kerikeri: Turner Centre I Ticket
Thursday 5 November Whangarei: Forum North Ticketek
Saturday 7 November Auckland: Bruce Mason Centre Ticketmaster  

Theatre , Musical ,

The top end of musical theatre

Review by Karen Morris-Denby 29th Oct 2020

When the audience applauds the ‘turn off your mobile’ announcement, you know the patrons are eager to be entertained and will appreciate anything that is presented to them on stage.  It’s a reminder that audiences have been in lockdown and perhaps have been craving performance theatre to immerse themselves in creative distractions. 

There was no need to feign enjoyment.  The Shows Must Go On is both a visual and auditory feast. the audience grooves along with every song and are thrilled with every performance.  

The Shows Must Go On include songs from The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Hairspray, The Greatest Showman, Evita and many other great musicals. I can imagine the show with a live orchestra would be phenomenal, but despite the ‘canned’ music accompaniment the performances are exceptional. 

Dave Spark (Pixel) and Glen Ruske (Bouncenz) along with Electro-Tech services and Hang -Up Entertainment, present amazing backdrops (reminding me of computer screensavers) which enhance the lavish feather-flowing, sequined, bejeweled, dazzling magnificent performers along with a lighting show not to be faulted.

A massive image of a moon landscape dwarfs Emily Burns as she performs an emotional rendition of ‘Memory’ from Cats. Candles appear to burn in large chandeliers; art deco images along with other fabulous backdrops complement all the live performers.

The image of the sun from the Argentinian flag flows behind the professional and immaculate performers singing songs from Evita. This, for me, is one of the highlights of the show.  

Songs from The Phantom of the Opera remind me of meeting the late marvelous Rob Guest a number of years ago.  Emily Burns sang with the late Rob Guest, in his Heartland Tour in 2009.

Akina Edmonds, a Billie Holiday sound alike, is the most animated of all the performers and appears to enjoy herself throughout the show.  She tries to connect with the other performers but they appear not to want to play her game.  A pity because this is the only disappointing feature of the show: where is the chemistry between performers?  

The Shows Must Go On is the top end of musical theatre.  A ‘must see’ and the songs from the show will stay in your head forever.

The Shows Must Go on, The Best of Broadway is on tour until 7th November.

[The Editor takes responsibility and apologises for posting this review two days late.] 


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Review by Tony Ryan 25th Sep 2020

Spectacle and impact are the bywords that describe this songs-from-the-shows extravaganza from The Touring Company. Everything about this production is exceptionally well-done and jaw-droppingly sensational. In that respect, the unquestionable stars of the show are the visual and sound technicians.

Dave Spark (Pixel) gives us the most astonishing visual feast imaginable with every lighting effect and backdrop complementing and enhancing the live performers to perfection. The illusion of real and sumptuous theatrical backdrops alternating with out-of-this-world fantasy images is so remarkably lavish that the singers sometimes almost take a secondary role. The numerous outstanding costumes are also notably effective, and endlessly augmented and varied by the lighting.  

The sound design is no less impressive. Although it’s a pity that live orchestral musicians don’t get an opportunity here to get back to work after the virus restrictions, I certainly can’t complain about the end result of the ‘canned’ musical aspect. I can find nothing in the online programme (how exciting it is to have to scan a QR code other than the Covid-19 one) or anywhere else to suggest that real musicians are involved in any way, so I can only presume that music producer Hamish Oliver and sound designer Glen Ruske are entirely responsible for generating everything that we hear. And it is all presented to overwhelming effect.

I sometimes complain about the badly judged, over-saturated sound we too often get in Christchurch shows and events and, while there remains something of these faults in the higher ranges of Broadway belt of the vocal aspect of this show, the gloriously all-encompassing sound picture is otherwise superb.

While the usual hallmarks of polished professionalism and presentation are certainly evident from stage director Stephen Robertson and musical director Richard Marrett, the creative talents of the technical team are certainly the key to this show’s character and originality. 

So, what about the live performers? Yes, there are some! Six singers from Aotearoa New Zealand, three men and three women, with a bucket-load of international experience (but where else can they get on stage at the moment?) all give classy and committed performances. Hand-held microphones give the presentation more of a concert, as opposed to a dramatic, atmosphere, but this is probably a wise move given the rather aimless hand movements that can otherwise result.

Some of the chosen shows comprise pre-existing songs and, while Mama Mia works well as a stage show, ‘S.O.S.’ and ‘The Winner Takes It All’ are just Abba songs in this context and I can’t help missing the original versions. Somehow, the same isn’t the case with Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’ from We Will Rock You, which lifts the end of the programme to a level of heart-swelling emotion, especially in such charismatic performances from Jack Fraser and all five of the other singers.

I confess some disappointment in the show’s opening medley where snippets of classic musicals from Mame, Sweet Charity, West Side Story, Chicago and others pass by so fleetingly that I’m left hungry for the full songs. But there is plenty more to enjoy in what follows from too many shows to list here.

Maybe Hayden Tee is a little too age-challenged to make the boy Aladdin totally convincing and, while Emily Burns’s ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ is engagingly presented, especially when the arrangement retains the essence of Robert Russell Bennett’s brilliant original orchestration, Jack Fraser’s ‘On the Street Where You Live’ disappoints both as a performance and an arrangement. The same disappointment arises with several ‘concertised’ versions of songs from classic musicals, especially the excerpts from Show Boat and Guys and Dolls, but more recent musicals fare better, possibly because many of their songs are designed as show-stopper ‘concert’ moments rather than being integrated into the momentum of the drama.

The most touching highlight for me is Paul Ross’s intimate performance of ‘I Honestly Love You’ from Boy from Oz. But the overall highlight of the evening has to be ‘Memory’ from Cats, in which Emily Burns’ ability to judge the gradations of emotion leading to a truly breath-taking climax is exceptionally moving. And, here again, the visual backdrop is wonderfully and spectacularly evocative.

Only two comic numbers feature in the programme. Hayden Tee’s hilarious performance of ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ from Matilda is delightfully sustained, and his earlier drag act as the fading stripper in ‘Take It All Off’ from Jerry’s Girls, had the audience belly-laughing throughout.

All three women, Emily Burns, Akina Edmonds and Verity Burgess, bring an impressive sense of ensemble and feeling to a very effective arrangement of ‘I Don’t Know How to love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar, but the series of torch songs that follow from Les Misérables, Hamilton and Wicked bring a bit of a lull in proceedings until ‘We Are The Champions’ revives both cast and audience energy levels, leading to a well-judged postscript of ‘What I Did For Love’ from A Chorus Line, whose quiet ending settles our heart rate as we leave the theatre, grateful that lockdown levels changed just in time for this show’s season. 

The Shows Must Go On is about to tour the entire country until 7 November. Let’s hope it can. 


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