Director: Chris Burton
PNBHS/PNGHS Production 2018
Review Date 15th March 2018
It seemed appropriate that my theatre companion for PNBHS and PNGHS’s production of Anything Goes should be my own little drama queen teenager. As we sat down in the Speirs centre at 7:30pm she leaned in with some inside information to impart—Half-time is at 9pm—she savagely whispered. Part of me died at the thought of how long I’d be seated in there.
The lights dimmed and off we went to a New York speakeasy bar in the 1930s. Glamour and rich acting talent hit the stage when Reno Sweeney appeared and had me searching my programme in the dark to figure out who was playing the part. It was Katie Atkins who proved to be a real star for the entire voyage through Anything Goes. Combining strong vocals, good dance skills and a confident, natural, acting-style Katie’s light beamed brightly from beginning to end.
Soon the whole set was breathtakingly revealed and in full swing. We were all aboard the S.S American! What a set! Bustling with a crowd of passengers all decked out in 1930s art-deco glamour and accompanied by the band that were already settled in on the deck of the ship, we found ourselves totally on board with the show. As the Ocean Liner prepared to depart, the scene is set for some hilarious on-board antics and many of us were dancing in our seats.
With gangsters, dodgy business men, priests, high society, and low society men and women on board there is a lot to work with in this production, and director Chris Burton has done the lot!
Excellent talent was show-cased on board the S.S American. Digby Werthmuller’s role as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was absolutely spiffing. An audience favourite, Digby’s depiction of Evelyn showed an expert grasp on comedy and brought many a belly laugh forth from a joyful audience. Callum Crawley's depiction of love sick Billy Crocker came to life when he revealed his excellent singing skills. Tender scenes between Billy and high society debutante Hope Harcourt played by Anna Drombroski were delicate and believable. Anna’s ability to act out Hope’s shy emotions was commendable. Anna Orwin-Higgs depiction of wayward gangster’s moll Erma was sublime and packed with sass, her accent impeccable.
There’s too much to say about this production. The band led by musical director Paul Dredge set an excellent atmosphere, the costumes were divine and on point, the set was lively and enjoyable, sound and lighting was smoothly managed and never did I find myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat and wondering when it would be all over. There was tap-dancing, singing, comedy, and dance sailing along at a rate of knots. At half time I felt excited for the second half.
There was an awkward moment... With Anything Goes being created in the 1930’s there are some relics of a bygone era which most of us are pleased to farewell—racial caricatures. I was pleased to see these issues addressed by Director Chris Burton in the beginning of the programme.
All in all I would think that PNGHS and PNBHS have a lot to be proud of with their production of Anything Goes. The S.S. American was absolutely packed with talented young men and women and they took us on a wonderful journey.
What makes Amy Masters Yoga different?
Amy is a down-to-earth yoga teacher and spiritual guide who combines yoga with ancient practices such as aromatherapy, astrology and spiritual awareness to aid you on your journey towards your best self. You can immerse yourself in her intuitive, inspirational, power and healing, and discover your inner goddess.
Healing is in Amy’s soul. From finding the practice of yoga as a teenager to working as a paediatric nurse, her natural empathy and a powerful connection with an inbuilt spirituality drives a strong urge to enlighten others - like a ‘cosmic mother’ nurturing personal growth.
Amy has been a qualified yoga instructor for four years but has held her own routine practice close for fifteen years. As well as being a reiki practitioner she is also a qualified astrologer and feels drawn to use these skills more to help people on their life journey. Uniquely Amy is interested in astrological yoga, a bespoke yoga session designed particularly to meet the needs of a person’s own individual needs:
“An astrological natal chart is a snapshot of the sky at the moment you were born. In essence, at the moment of your first breath is when you come into accord with the energies of the universe. That remains fixed throughout your lifetime. Your natal chart gives clues to your major life lessons, shows your destiny, reveals your personality traits and hidden desires, as well as points the way to your soul’s purpose".
With a growing knowledge of the ancient Indian science of Ayurvedic healing (bringing harmony through all aspects of life being in balance) involving the use of essential oils, natural treatments like oil hair masks, medicated oils, and foot massages, Amy offers powerful health benefits to your mind, body and spirit.
Amy’s personal experience of parenting has given her insight and understanding into the needs of mothers and babies as they adjust to their new and growing relationship. Her insight from her own experience as well as that of being a paediatric nurse means Amy has unique skills from which to offer holistic care and attention to new Mums. Weekly yoga classes for post-natal mums and new babies cover physical movement for the post-natal body, stretches to relieve aches and pains, baby massage techniques, as well as take home tools to help adjust to changes brought about by motherhood that will help support body and soul.
Amy runs hatha and yin yoga sessions in Levin and Palmerston North. Aside from offering the restorative benefits of yoga, the new mums and bubs sessions offer valuable social interactions between new mums. Using aromatherapy oils to infuse her yoga sessions with extra benefits offers divine invigoration for the senses.
Amy wants to embrace other women who have a thirst for their own fountain of love and happiness, helping them to honour themselves by giving them space and time to explore new methods of self-care, allowing them to take a breath from everyday life, and find the rejuvenating power within. Amy guides women to explore previously unchartered territory aiming to achieve healing, wellness, and relief from the rigours of life by enhancing and expanding their inner dialogue. She hopes that, like her, women will be ‘forever practising’ and learn to master these skills themselves.
Workshops designed to help women reconnect with their femininity in a healthy, safe and embracing environment happen throughout the year, and helps to awaken their inner goddess. Positive self-talk and self-love lead to female empowerment as Amy assists an awakening to women’s spiritual femininity and helps form deeper connections with ‘soul sisters’ within the workshops. Other workshops focus on aromatherapy, meditation, yoga, and pampering, as well as ‘make and take’ workshops using special aromatherapy oils. A red tent group focusing on uplifting and building emotional villages for women is also in the ideas stage.
You can focus your ‘inner eye’ on Amy’s yoga sessions and workshops by following her facebook page ‘Amy Masters Yoga’, her skills may be the answer you’ve been searching for.
The Love List
Director: Dan Pengelly
Review Date: 22nd February 2018
Thursday night was a chillier night than usual for what I’ve come to think of as a hellish summer, and I was in a low mood as I pulled up to Centrepoint Theatre to see The Love List. My theatre attending companion furnished me with a glass of rosé to help warm my chilly mood but as we found our way to our seats I commented on how cold it was in there. I leaned forward and nastily whispered ‘this better be funny enough to warm me up’ and then I sat back and looked around the audience for someone new to get angry at.
You know that you’re watching some extremely high quality skills when you forget about everything going on around you and become so intently entrenched in a story that you feel like you’re actually part of what’s happening. Laughter erupted from my insides, and such was the vigour with which I writhed around in my seat and craned my neck so as to make sure I wouldn’t miss anything, that I gained a body temperature that was no longer angering.
I had no idea what The Love List was about before I saw the show, and I’m glad about that. It was such a delight to watch it all unfold before me. However for your benefit I’ll briefly describe the content. The Love List is a realistic, yet fantasy based comedy exploring the qualities of a perfect woman and more broadly the imperfect qualities of all relationships. This description does no justice to the show that I saw – sorry, but seeing is believing.
I confess that though Millen Baird (Leon) is of NZ Television fame -having appeared in many an award winning show including 800 words and Shortland Street to name a few recognisable ones
(I only know that because of the programme), seeing him in real life was an absolute treat. With such a lot riding on delivering snappy and comedic dialogue this play could easily have fallen flat in unskilled hands but Baird really brought the goods with his excellent, incredibly funny depiction of a worldly, lovable, lothario, writer. Siobhan Marshall (Justine) – also a frequent flyer on our local screens in shows such as Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, and The Almighty Johnsons – carried off what must have been a challenging role with an ease that was extremely comforting. Her ability to multi-task is a skill which should not be overlooked simply because she made it look so easy. One of the things I really enjoyed about seeing this cast working together was the sense that they were all really enjoying themselves too. The chemistry between long-time mates Leon and Bill (played by Aaron Ward who most recently portrayed the extremely hateable Adam Ross in Shortland Street) was exactly as you would expect in real life and another reason why everything felt so believable. The dialogue was slick, with excellent one-liners and a plethora of local references which ensured that you shared every single in-joke on the list!
The Love List has magical qualities to enchant its audience. How can I begin to separate the parts when they were so seamlessly melded together? The set by Ian Harman was perfect because I forgot I was looking at a set and fully believed I was hanging out in a middle-aged bachelor pad, the lighting by Tayla Pilcher was excellent because I believed that the actors had gone to sleep and woken up in the morning and it wasn’t just a trick of the light. The direction by Dan Pengelly must have been truly wonderful because that bachelor pad was alive with natural movement and genuine sounding conversations. It was like I was living inside a 3D TV show in which they would need to tone down the audience laughter for fear it would drown out what was happening on stage. That’s a good point actually, I wasn’t insanely laughing on my own. We were ALL laughing.
I could make a long list of reasons why you should see this show and ultimately I think The Love List should be at the top of your list of things to go see.
Abbey Musical Theatre
Director: Andrea Maxwell
Review Date: 9th February 2018
Ordinary Days is a musical which explores the ordinary lives of four ordinary people living in New York. Written in 2008 by Adam Gwon it is intended to be an intimate production focusing on four people coming to the realisation that meaning and beauty can be found in any ordinary day.
The set was a pleasure to gaze upon. While it did scream NEW YORK loudly, it also had a comforting and serene feel to it that made me feel relaxed and intrigued. I was lucky enough to get my own private art lesson from a theatre companion who had donated one of his pieces of art by artists Craig and Karl to the set, and so I am also slightly smarter now than when I arrived. I’ll take this moment to also say that the arm rest between seat E28 and E29 needs attention please.
Pianist Bronwyn Boddy brought the show to life when she entered the stage and took up her position at the keyboard for the duration of the play. The responsibility for keeping the musical score moving along in time was well rested on her shoulders as she did a superb job.
If you’re not a fan of musicals and don’t know the storyline of Ordinary Days this may not be the show for you. The entire narrative of this production is told through song, so also if you’re of the type that doesn’t listen to the words of songs then you’ll have no clue what is happening. If you get your hands on a programme though, a thorough synopsis of the story will fill in the gaps.
Tayla Clark’s role as ‘Deb’ the typical, female, New York, grad student was well played. Tayla brought more than a well practised singing voice to the role, embodying her characters traits in a subtle and believable way as well as having good comedic timing.
Ordinary days is an intellectual show, there are no dancing numbers or sexual innuendo, that you might find in other more upbeat productions, but a focus on relationships and aspirations of two sets of people living in New York. Art, relationships, and self discovery are the order of the day in Ordinary Days.
Navutu Stars Resort on Yaqeta Island, the Yasawa group, Fiji
I’ve always wanted to take my kids to a tropical island because I was taken to a few as a kid, and the magic of snorkelling in crystal clear waters and seeing fish I could only ever dream of has stayed with me my whole life. When my Mum spent a few days in Fiji last year at Navutu Stars resort in the Yasawa Islands and came back raving about it I pushed go on plans to spend Xmas there with my three grown children, my hubby, and my mum. We spent almost the entire year planning and paying for what would be a momentous trip, probably the last as a family since our oldest son turned twenty and moved out of home a few weeks before we left. It was nice to know that he’d be stuck with us, on an island for ten days.
Our first stop in Fiji just two days before Xmas was at the Fiji Gateway Hotel where the hot Fiji atmosphere and a large pool were already giving us that Fiji vibe, it was a nice convenient place to stay as a pit stop before we caught the transfer bus to the port in the morning. I’d been concerned about the potential for sea sickness (which my kids and hubby seem to be prone to) when I’d booked the four hour boat trip to Navutu Stars on the Yasawa Flyer. Mum had convinced me it was ‘an idyllic island hopping cruise all the way and it wouldn’t be a problem, and besides the seaplane, which only takes an hour, was more expensive’. The fly in the ointment of this trip was the uncharacteristically rough day on the ocean we encountered. Four hours worth of watching my family vomit into seasick bags was not something I’d planned for, and it was excruciating. When we finally arrived in our destination I wondered whether I’d be able to get them off the boat and onto the boat the resort had sent out to retrieve us. I don’t know how we managed but we did.
Sam the boat skipper from Navutu Stars resort was calm in the face of our obvious distress, welcoming us with a firm handshake and bringing us to shore where we were greeted like royalty with song and welcome signs from the staff. Somehow we staggered from the boat to shore and emerged into an oasis of calm, an absolute paradise which was almost tear- inducing.
In an open-sided lounge bure we were given fruit cocktails, and flannels for our sweaty brows. Dan a darling of a Fijian man talked soothingly to us as our racing hearts began to beat a more healthy rhythm. We were not rushed off to our rooms quickly; Dan wanted us to feel relaxed and happy first. Once we were restored to a better version of ourselves Dan took us along the beach front which was dotted with coconut trees, frangipane and hibiscus plants, and surrounded by warm clear water, to our bures. Mum’s bure was tucked down a path fringed with plant life, and over some rocks, round the corner, up some stone steps and across a beautiful garden was our larger bure.
We were awestruck by the fusion of modern and traditional simplicity that combined to create a luxurious place to stay. Crystal clear waters lapped at the shore at the end of our front lawn, and a hammock, two day beds and two sun loungers were ours to use in total privacy. Relaxation was breathed into our souls. We spent very little time chucking our togs on and heading into the sea. Swimming together in the warm waters of a remote island paradise was pure magic.
Navutu Stars Resort, the only resort on Yaqeta Island, accommodates around twenty guests aged twelve and over (it was no coincidence that I chose this place) . During our ten day stay we met people from the UK, Australia, Monaco, Japan, and Canada. One couple had a private wedding ceremony on the beach. The small number of people allowed the opportunity to get to know others so a nice little community formed during our stay.
The dining area was a large covered deck with views over the ocean, and the place where you get to meet and mingle with staff and other guests away from your own little sanctuary. Other than great food and an unlimited offering of drinks and cocktails at the bar there is also a blackboard of information and activities which is updated daily. It became part of our evening to check the board for new arrival and departure updates and to think about whether we wanted to take part in any activities on offer the next day.
Activities included walks to the local village, turtle spotting trips, snorkeling trips, coconut demonstrations, kava ceremony, Fijian language lessons, limestone caves adventures, weaving lessons and coral restoration lessons. Some activities were free of charge and others had a cost associated. We made the most of our time and among us managed to give every activity our attention enjoying some great snorkeling opportunities together.
Having snorkeled as a child over coral reefs holding my Mum’s hand it was a wonderful experience doing the same with my kids, it was a bonus that mum was there to witness it all too. Ruvi (our guide and a bit of a joker) tried to convince us that there are no sharks in Fiji, and failing to convince us of that he moved on to trying to convince us that the sharks in Fiji were all vegetarians. Regardless, I never saw a shark on the five snorkeling trips I was lucky enough to take but I did see beautiful fish in that magical underwater world.
Yoga sessions are offered for free every morning at 7 am on the outdoor deck nestled among the treetops where you can breathe in the beauty all around as the sun comes up. I managed three mornings but was too lazy in the other seven mornings to make it. It doesn’t matter; you’re there to relax, and to choose how that happens for you.
If you want to indulge in some luxury there is a beauty spa at the resort. Tucked away at a discreet distance along the beach you will receive your free thirty minute massage either inside the bure or outside on the beach. There are a variety of beauty spa treatments on offer from facials to body wraps. I enjoyed a side by side massage with my hubby (his first ever massage), and a few days later one with my Mum. While I was away swimming through the limestone caves my daughters enjoyed a relaxing massage together. It’s unlikely that any of us will forget the luxury of Fijian massage in such beautiful surroundings. Honestly, I could have had a massage everyday...
The activities hut is where you can find everything you need for a good time. “Can I grab a kayak please”, “can I get a towel”, “book me on that snorkelling trip tomorrow” etc. Our requests were always greeted with enthusiasm from the friendly and very funny activity guys Ruvi, Kikau and Sam to name a few, who were always ready with a good joke or strumming away on a guitar. All five of us were given our own snorkelling gear at the activities hut to keep for the duration of our stay. Many times we chucked our snorkelling gear on outside our bures and swam around the rocks and mangroves watching fish swimming about before returning to shore and falling into our hammocks.
The salt water pool with its expansive deck and relaxing cabana furnished with daybeds was a great place to hang out and chat. Better still the staff were more than happy to bring us drinks, snacks and coffee as we lazed about whiling away relaxing holiday days and staring off to the beautiful ocean blue. We’d often meet by the pool after an excursion and catch up over a drink.
Walking back to our bures along the beach at night was magical. The sea lapped up on the shore, and at high tide we’d often be walking with warm water around our ankles as we ventured back to our island home (don’t worry there’s an alternative inland route). We witnessed some incredible sunsets, saw a stingray hovering in the shallows and watched crabs skittering out of our way. We were in no way mature enough to ignore the allure of the frogs and geckos. At night frogs hopped around the lawn outside our bure, we were often out there counting them up and seeking them out with our torches. They were quiet frogs, minding their own business but it was strangely fascinating to watch them, and I guess we had oodles of time to do so.
We consumed many cocktails and virgin cocktails during our stay and made friends with the lovely staff. It was hard to wrench ourselves away and head home (thankfully the magic of facebook has helped us keep in touch) but it lives on as a paradisaical dream in our memories.
Our trip back on the Yasawa Flyer was like an answered prayer. I’d administered sea legs pills for the return journey but they were unnecessary. It was a hot, sunny day on clear and calm waters.
Navutu Stars offers eco-luxe accommodation in the Yasawa Islands group. It is mid-range expenses wise but provides luxury and exclusivity that one would expect for a much higher price. It was absolute paradise on that tiny little spot in the Pacific Ocean, seasoned with love by exceptional caring and helpful staff. If you want to spoil yourself with some peace and tranquillity you will find it here.
Rock of Ages
By Abbey Musical Theatre
Directed by Phil Anstis
Review date - 23 November 2017
Okay, so I hadn’t done my homework on Rock of Ages before I rocked up to Abbey Theatre’s opening night (ignorance isn’t all bad) so I had no idea what it was about, and zero expectations. My theatre companion for the night was harping on about how she’d always wanted to see it and blah, blah, blah, but to be fair some of her entertainment choices are a bit questionable. Settling into our seats and leafing through the programme together we hit the ‘musical number’s’ page and gave each other the smiling version of a high-five! From Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead or Alive’ to Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know what Love is’ there was an impressive list of absolute bangers to look forward to. I got excited.
Set in the legendary ‘The Bourbon Room’ of West Hollywood fame, the stage came alive with music, colour, dance and some great laughs. Skipping in and out of the role of narrator and character Lonny Barnett was Nick Ross – OMG!!!! What a funny guy. He really was a bit of a legend, honestly, I don’t know how to encapsulate effectively how great he was as he skilfully injected laughs at just the right time. Rock on Nick Ross, I salute you.
As one of the lead characters, I recognised Riley Booth (Sherrie Christian) from many singing events and knew her singing would be exceptional. What I wasn’t expecting was for her to be a triple threat, also excelling in dance and acting. Riley left nothing behind, she was a tender yet gutsy and totally believable character. A performance of this calibre for her young age was absolutely outstanding. Riley was truly a star of the show.
Another absolute rock star was Liam Taylor as womanising Stacee Jaxx. Liam has impressed me before and did not fail to again. Total embodiment of his character and great commitment to some challenging songs Stacee Jaxx was the rock god every groupie wanted to be with.
Tyrell Beck as Sherrie Christian’s love interest Drew Boley expertly managed the depth of emotion required for the kind and tender role he played. I've seen Tyrell in a previous show and it was great to see him play a totally different role with the same high standard of acting. Some notes in the numbers he had to sing were a challenge for him to reach but he committed to them none the less.
Jason Harkett (Franz Klineman) with his caricature-style German accent was a crowd favourite with his unerring commitment to character.
The band was handily inserted into the show and residing on the stage, a great option, as they kept everything rocking along. I reckon musical director Michael Doody managed all the music stuff well because there was a lot of it weaving its way through characters, and timing was crucial.
High energy dancers filled the stage with va-va -voom and brought ‘The Bourbon Room’ to life, they must have been exhausted by the time the curtain came down.
Rock of Ages is a fun and exciting show to watch with some standout performances and great music. Although there were a few sound issues on opening night they in no way affected the enjoyment of the show and should be ironed out before subsequent showings.
Abbey Theatre has really rocked this one and laughs came readily from a well entertained audience.
By Ross Gumbley and Allison Horsley
Directed by Dan Pengelly
Review Date: 4th November 2017
Centrepoint’s latest production Ropable opened on Saturday night. Advertised as a ‘Killer Christmas Comedy’ you may guess that it’s a bit of a black comedy, and you may not guess that the Christmas part refers to the fact that Centrepoint are bringing it to you near Christmas time...
Adapted for our local audiences’ particular enjoyment, this version of Ross Gumbley and Allison Horsley’s Ropable is set in Shannon with a lot of witty one-liners and colloquial knowledge that weaves extra fun into the show. As young ghost writer Eden Forsyth plans her wedding at the 'Shan In' to celebrity Monty Parker, who has been married a few times before, it seems Eden might be getting entangled in a 'bad romance'. Surprises abound as Norma the manager of the 'Shan In', Auntie Prudence, and Eden's mother Constance, all attempt to intervene to protect Eden from Monty's unfaithful and drug-fueled ways. But things are never what they seem...
An older audience may get extra kicks out of this Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery parody but younger people will not miss out on any of the fun for not knowing (as was evidenced by my thirteen year old’s enjoyment of the show). Everything needed for a bit of fun and frivolity was there, from sexual innuendo, frights, great props, suspense, and good old fashioned laughs, to psychological thrills and spills.
A strong cast kept Ropable tight, their strength and skill knitting together to make sure the comedy delivery didn’t unravel into awkward or cringe-worthy moments. Carrie Green’s role as Norma Bates the manager of ‘Shan In’ was wonderfully portrayed, her combination of intimidation, sexual prowess, physical comedy, and deadpan deliveries coming together in a terrifyingly funny way.
Mark Wright was a bit of a surprise. At first I thought he was not really pulling off his role as Monty, but it turns out he was playing his role as an annoying, idiotic, philandering ****hole really well. Later when Eden’s father Nigel wanders on stage unexpectedly, it took me a while to realise it was Mark Wright in more than simply different clothes. Both roles were poles apart and my feelings towards them were too.
Innocent Eden played by Torum Heng strung everyone along, Eden’s mother Constance played by Lori Dungey brought colour and va-va-voom with her, and Auntie Prudence played by Yvette Parsons performance was a real ‘scream’!
Excellent use of lighting and sound effects provided great mood and brought shock elements to life. The set lent itself to producing a larger than life environment to work with, from the upstairs vertigo suite to the sauna and outside to some amusingly named landscape features. Imaginary places fed by clever set arrangement expanded the play into the unseen. Alfred Hitchcock references riddled the set, and a keen eye will find plenty to smile about.
Ropable doesn’t take itself seriously, everyone’s there for a bit of a laugh and there’s plenty to laugh about. If you feel like unraveling from the stresses of the silly season, check into Ropable’s ‘Shan in’ and enjoy a rollicking ride.
27th October 2017
Director Ian Harman
BURLESQUE! BOOM, BOOM!
Centrepoint Theatre was transformed into a haven of French-style glamour to celebrate the 10th anniversary chapter of The Boom Boom Room Burlesque with Tease-o-Rama! As expected from director Ian Harman a highly polished show, combined with a classy set provided great entertainment for a spellbound crowd. A full house lined up for Friday night’s premiere, some raucous and some getting into the spirit of it all and dressed to thrill...
Flesh, feathers, sparkles, sweetness and oh so much teasing kept an enraptured audience eating out of these ladies well manicured hands throughout the show. The alluring French accent of an off-stage MC wafted over the audience providing excellent entertainment as each delicious lady was introduced with their alter ego names matching a variety of fun themes. Costa DeMillion showed off her mastery of the art of burlesque revealing her years of experience with The Boom Boom Room with exceptional performances.
Mistresses of tease, these glamorous ladies were delightfully attired in a range of the most beautiful (and well fitting) lingerie – costuming on point. I seriously chastised myself for my own ill-fitting, mismatched and shabby underwear choices and wondered how I might look in high heels, pretty lingerie, and just of dot of the sexiness of the burlesque babes – oh la la!
I’m not sure whether the audience knew quite how to respond, sometimes it seemed there was a bit of enchanted silence which might not be the desired response. Personally if I was going to dance around in my lingerie I’d expect people to be screaming with delight. Someone who does know how to make an audience respond the way he wants is Mr Lola Illusion (Ian Harman) who offered some magical moments, some vulnerability, and a decent shaking of his tail feathers!
It’s too late to catch Tease-o-Rama! now as its limited two night showing is over, but The Boom Boom Room is bringing a new show soon to which I would highly recommend you attend.
There was no cooling their jets when James and Maree Candish put their wheels in motion and purchased a little known workshop tucked away on Cambridge Avenue in Ashhurst. Young, ambitious and full of enthusiasm they grabbed the keys and went to work making sure that their workshop stood out. Fresh new paintwork, a thorough clean throughout, and rebranding meant that a young James had a sparkling new workshop to get his mechanical business Village Valley Automotive started on a transformational journey towards becoming the humming mechanical pit stop that it is today. Not forgetting its past James honours the history of his workshop, displaying black and white photos in the reception area of a very retro looking Astro Auto Services owned by his predecessor Roger Herd who loyally stayed on working for James for a few years.
James had made the most of an opportunity presented to him, and had not expected that a job mowing lawns as a teenager would lead to becoming a mechanic let alone owning his own workshop. He took a job at CESCO doing forklift repairs, when the opportunity arose through his lawn-mowing job, which led to him doing an apprenticeship in heavy-automotive plant and equipment diesel mechanics. Seven years working for someone else left James feeling discontent. Shown a ‘for sale’ advertisement of Astro Auto Services, a little known workshop tucked away behind trees and some old decommissioned BP fuel pumps on the main drag in Ashhurst, James and his wife Maree took the risky first step into becoming business owners. With Maree busy studying to become a midwife, their life became like a speedway blur of activity. After a ten year investment of hard graft, and with a growing young family, James finds himself in pole position for providing mechanical services in Ashhurst and surrounding areas.
James looks back at those early days with the wise eyes of a business man with years of experience under his belt, he’s faced and overcome many challenges along the way but each challenge has brought him invaluable experience. He laughs as he recounts the handwringing experience of buying a new tyre balancing machine in his first three months of business, which seemed a significant and risky venture for his young business. Since then almost every item in the workshop has been updated and/or replaced with new equipment such as diagnostic computers and wheel alignment machines, bringing equipment and service capabilities to the modern high standards needed. This has allowed Village Valley Automotive to provide the wide range of services they deliver to clientele so that they won’t have the inconvenience of having to go farther afield. James relishes the opportunity to solve problems for his customers and says with his skills and the others in his team they can always nut out a problem in the end. Being a born and bred Ashhurst resident James appreciates the needs of his community, he’s grown into the role he’s taken on and admits that relationships with customers, staff and suppliers are most important to him. He’s uncomfortable about being referred to as ‘the boss’, asserting that his team are all important cogs in his well oiled machine.
Ten years have not passed unmeasured. James and Maree set targets for themselves that helped them steer their future in the right direction and to make sure the wheels didn’t fall off along the way. Their measured approach has facilitated the growth in their service, their workshop, and their local business. A short time spent in his reception area reveals, that in this small community, Village Valley Automotive provides a friendly and familiar service to many. From WOF’s, car services, full tyre replacement, and wheel alignments to heavy equipment and machinery, James and the team have got the Ashhurst community’s mechanical needs covered.
Director: Jenna Kelly
18th October 2017
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of Chatroom, Jenna Kelly’s directorial debut at the The Dark Room. If you’ve never attended a show at this little gem of a theatre, do not be intimidated, it is a welcoming, friendly little nook with all the essentials like eft-pos and drinks – rock on up and enjoy yourself.
Anyway, Chatroom, I have to admit that I thought I might be a bit old to enjoy a teen internet chatroom drama, would I even understand their lingo? Well, I took a front row seat and felt like I was really part of the action, even though there really isn’t a lot of action. There’s a minimalist set, just the bare necessities which with good use of lighting and sound, works perfectly and does not detract from the strong, dialogue driven act.
I found myself really immersed in the chatroom conversation between these teens, all six parts delivered a compelling and believable act and expertly showed how quickly things can get out of hand under the cover of online aliases, with the group quickly splitting into a hero’s versus villains aesthetic. One actor’s delivery was perhaps slightly hampered by an overly rushed delivery of lines, hopefully just first night nerves, but the rest of their performance was well formed. Excellent characterisation by all actors brought teenage behaviour to life well, I low key had melancholy pangs for my (long) past teenage life.
Finn Davidson offered an exceptional performance as depressed teen Jim. His tender and subtle yet strong performance was awe-inspiring and just what was needed to handle the delicate issues of his character.
I commend Jenna Kelly on her directorial debut. Chatroom, is a thoroughly well delivered show for all to enjoy.
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