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Big budget musical

MARNIE HALLAHAN
Last updated 05:00 10/08/2012
CAts

TOP CAT: Kristin School is well known for its performing arts prowess. The Albany school was the first in New Zealand to secure the rights for CATS

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Big budget high school musicals are rivalling professional productions and kick-starting theatre careers.

Kristin School's version of the hit musical CATS was an $85,000 show, executive principal and show producer Peter Clague says.

The Albany school was the first in New Zealand to secure the rights to perform CATS, which Mr Clague says was a fantastic opportunity but didn't come cheap.

It aims to attract big audiences to break even, which it's achieved for the last 10 years.

This year more than 3000 tickets were sold, recouping the $85,000 price tag which Mr Clague says would rival what many small amateur companies would spend.

The largest proportion of the cost went towards royalties with schools paying around a 16 per cent fee, higher than some professional outfits, he says.

Sound and lighting also comes at a hefty cost, though this year the Kristin orchestra provided live music for the production.

Mr Clague says the productions get more professional each year and as soon as the curtain comes down they're thinking about what's next.

"Performing arts is such a big deal for us," he says.

"We have a lot of students who have gone on to acting and theatre careers but we have just as many who have gone into the technical aspects."

The school and students' dedication to the production paid off last year when they won two honours at the AMI Showdown Awards.

Their version of Jesus Christ Superstar was named Best Overall Auckland Production for 2011 and Joel Granger who played Jesus of Nazareth won Best Leading Male in a Musical.

But Mr Clague says it's not all about accolades.

"There is a magic to a school show, whether you're out there with the latest wireless microphones or a broomstick.

"Any school that puts on a show is doing a wonderful thing for its students."

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