Memorial Hall, 15 Skird Street, Alexandra

21/10/2014 - 21/10/2014

Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

19/10/2014 - 19/10/2014

Oamaru Opera House, Oamaru

14/10/2014 - 14/10/2014

Civic Theatre, 88 Tay Street, Invercargill, Invercargill

23/10/2014 - 23/10/2014

St James Theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington

25/10/2014 - 25/10/2014

The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

06/09/2014 - 04/10/2014

Timaru Opera House, Timaru

16/10/2014 - 16/10/2014

Production Details

Written by Roger Hall
Music & Lyrics by Peter Skellern

Roger Hall, New Zealand’s most loved playwright returns to The Court Theatre this time with British musical heavyweight Peter Skellern (You’re a Lady, Love is the Sweetest Thing) to take you on a light hearted journey through the joys and horrors of grandparenthood, with all its painful pleasures.

Maurice and Kath’s kids have left home, the nest is finally empty, a life of gin, golf and overseas holidays awaits. That is until the grandchildren arrive.  Can there be a greater joy? But being grandparents also means being free baby-sitters. Then its dirty nappies, driving the kids to school and chasing a slippery tot around the bath.  Hall’s script is beautifully balanced with Skellern’s witty and tuneful songs.

You Can Always Hand Them Back is a vintage Hall, with his usual gift of providing instantly recognisable situations which grandparents and parents will find lots to laugh at.

“Wonderfully moving — a gem of an evening for anyone with a family and a heart” – Daily Mail (UK).

Show Sponsor: Golden Healthcare

At The Court Theatre
6 September – 4 October 2014
Show Times:
6:30pm Mon & Thu;
7:30pm Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat;
2:00pm Matinée Saturday 27 September
Tickets: $56-$22
To Book phone 03 963 0870 or visit 


14 October Oamaru – Oamaru Opera House 
Bookings: Ticket Direct 

16 October Timaru – Timaru Opera House 
Bookings: Newmans Music Works
117 Stafford Street, Timaru
Ph: 036885597 

19 October Wanaka – Lake Wanaka Centre 
Bookings: Lake Wanaka i-Site 
03 443 1538 

21 October Alexandra – Memorial Hall 
Bookings: Central Otago i-Site
(03) 448 9515 

23 October Invercargill – Civic Theatre 
Bookings: Ticket Direct 

25 October Gore – St. James Theatre 
Bookings: iticket
Ph: 0508 iticket (4842538)

Grandma (Kath) - Lynda Milligan
Grandpa (Maurice) - Steven Ray 
Pianist - Jason Te Mete

Director - Daniel Pengelly
Musical Director / Choreographer – Jason Te Mete
Set Design – Harold Moot 
Costume Design – Robyn Martin 
Lighting Design – Giles Tanner 
Sound Design – Sean Hawkins 
Properties – Anneke Bester 
Stage Manager – Cally Castell/Jo Bunce 
Operator – Sean Hawkins 
Costume Manager – Sarah Douglas 
Workshop Manager – Nigel Kerr 
Production Manager – Mandy Perry 

Theatre , Musical ,

Fun, poignancy and familiar wisdoms

Review by Lindsay Clark 07th Sep 2014

He is described in the programme as ‘the postman of New Zealand theatre’, on the grounds that he always delivers the goods. To extend the image, one could say Roger Hall is also spot on when it comes to selecting the post to engage with and appeal to his middle class recipients, in this case probably those in their ‘golden years’.

A theatre full of happy laughter is a very pleasant, reassuring place to be and audiences for this latest work will not be of a mind to niggle about the grandparent experiences not included in Hall’s postbag. 

We are led cheerfully and musically through the grandparenting experiences of Kath (Lynda Milligan) and Maurice (Steven Ray) with frequent linking contributions from Jason Te Mete, the musical director and pianist. The songs are the result of close collaboration between the playwright and the composer, serving to highlight a mood or inject some extra sparkle. They provide glorious opportunities for all three cast members to strut their stuff for our delight. The trio provides top talent with assured control of their material.

From the ‘treading water’ time when the couple are awaiting the first grandchild, through babysitting nightmares and the roller coaster emotions of family doings, Daniel Pengelly’s direction has a firm hand on the pace and humour of the journey, although things take a while to settle for me, in spite of engaging direct address from all three on stage.

The wait is well worth it with both grandparents as strong presences slipping easily between escapades with imagined offspring and sung commentaries. It amounts to very good fun.  A significant amount of that arises from gender and generation digs – so familiar, but still so effective.

She keeps a scrapbook, assuming that her photographs and Hairy McClary will be of perennial interest. (There is a huge collage of family pics as a backdrop and more of Kath and Maurice on duty in the programme). He wants to watch the television screen but has to be shown how to switch from tele to DVD.

And so it goes on. Grandchildren who are bored and who don’t write thank you notes, the spectre of not being wanted at Christmas, little everyday observations we do not see as funny in our own lives but which play so entertainingly. 

There is an underlying sense of the poignancy and tenderness of grandparenting too. Perhaps overstating that, at least for me, is a switch from the comedy mask to the tragic one, where Maurice has to say his last farewells. While it echoes an earlier draft of the play, Say Goodbye to Grandpa, it is positioned oddly under the current insouciant title. 

The melancholic note or two does not linger, though, before we are reassured by familiar wisdom about memories. It would be churlish to reject the charm of a happy ending. Certainly the opening night audience left the theatre full of smiles.


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