Filling a niche with local theatre

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Bringing theatre back to the basics – great talent and great tunes – is the aim of Alexandra and Clyde’s newest theatre troupe.

Waiata Theatre Productions has been formed by local performers Bruce Potter and Duncan Anderson.

Their aim is to stage more intimate supper theatre-style productions across the region that are less about smoke and mirrors and more about talented performers in memorable roles, Mr Potter said.

“We just decided that there was a little bit of niche that nobody was providing,” he said.

“There were quite a few very, very talented people who weren’t involved any more in theatre, and it seemed to me it was a crying shame. I wanted to see them on stage.”

Mr Potter and Mr Anderson decided to “take the bull by the horns”, and set up a new musical theatre company, investing their own money to begin the venture.

“I love my theatre, I’ve been involved in musical theatre for a long time. I’ve done a lot of big roles with a lot of companies in Auckland,” Mr Potter said.

Musical impresario . Co-founder of Waiata Theatre Productions, Bruce Potter, of Alexandra, is investing his own time, energy, voice and money into bringing The Mikado to life in Central Otago. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON

An illustrator of children’s books and former powerlifting champion, Mr Potter moved from Auckland with his family several years ago, he said.

“Coming down here I sort of thought that would probably be it for me for musical theatre, I’d focus on other things, but I got good mates with Duncan Anderson and we’re sort of similar minds.”

They both decided that instead of auditioning they would find the best people and build a team for this first production, Mr Potter said.

The cast are a “well oiled machine”, with members that are experienced in musical theatre including Julie Parks as Yum-Yum, Sally Davies as Katisha, and Bill Willis as Pish-Tush, Mr Potter said.

As well as being production manager, director and musical director, Mr Potter will be swapping wigs to play both Nanki-Poo and the Mikado.

“There’s a couple of quick changes. I came on the other night and I just didn’t have time and I chucked the wig on and I couldn’t see myself – and I think I put it on backwards,” Mr Potter laughed.

His fellow founder of Waiata productions, Duncan Anderson, will also be performing as Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner in this production.

One of the reasons for having a more intimate production was to enable the show to tour around the region, Mr Potter said.

“What we are wanting to do is go to places that haven’t had stuff for a while. That we take theatre back to places that in the old days would be really thriving, and now you’ve got halls that are sitting idle, maybe used every now and again for a wedding or whatever,” he said.

Mr Potter had chosen to use regional halls including Earnscleugh Hall, Naseby Town Hall and Ranfurly Public Hall, he said.

“We wanted to take theatre back to these halls because, you know, we’ve got these assets in this district with these beautiful halls and it just makes sense to use them.”

Plans for more productions are in the works, and Mr Potter is eyeing up shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar or Les Miserables as possibilities.

In the meantime, he is looking forward to getting the dress rehearsals out of the way, and performing for an opening audience next week.

simon.henderson@thenews.co.nz