Witch switch for Kiwi actress

ROB KIDD
Last updated 05:00 07/07/2013
Lisa Chappell
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
BADJELLY: Lisa Chappell takes the title role in the Auckland Theatre Company’s production.

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A former Outback sheila is flying over The Ditch on her broomstick to entertain Kiwi kids these school holidays.

Auckland-born actress Lisa Chappell - best known for her portrayal of Claire in Aussie drama McLeod's Daughters - will play Badjelly the Witch in Auckland Theatre Company's adaptation of the Spike Milligan classic children's tale.

Coincidentally, Chappell is fresh from playing a good witch in a production of The Wizard of Oz. "I'm quite well rounded in my witchiness," she said.

Badjelly, who has a penchant for chopping up children and making sausages out of them, will be a chance for Chappell to explore her slightly darker side, but she would not be pushing it too far. "I'm not making her too scary," she said. "I had a trial with a class of 5-year-olds recently, who laughed every time I was on stage. So I'm doing as many bum jokes as I can."

The best thing about having an audience packed with children, Chappell said, was "they make you very honest, committed performers".

But it's not just for kids. "There's plenty in there for the adults, as well as the nostalgia of the story."

Badjelly the Witch starts in Auckland on Friday and there's a long weekend of shows in Nelson too - mostly morning or matinee performances.

Though the schedule was not hugely demanding, Chappell said the role itself was energy sapping.

"I'm quite exhausted by the end of the day - riding broomsticks, cackling and screaming," she said. "I started this on the unfit side. Note to self: start training two months beforehand next time."

Badjelly the Witch runs from July 12-16 at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, and at Theatre Royal, Nelson, on July 20-21

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