'Complete revamp' for WWI musical ahead of Anzac Day
With Anzac Day on the horizon, stories of wartime are once again coming to the fore.
As part of ongoing WWI centenary commemorations, playwright Amanda Stone is resurrecting her musical production Voices from the Front, for a short run at Hannah Playhouse.
The play tells the story of soldiers on the front line at Gallipoli, with Stone's script based largely on the diary and letters of Kiwi Lieutenant Colonel William Malone.
"He was a beautiful writer and his letters to home so moving that I felt I needed to bring them to life and share them."
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The story follows three families, charting their wartime experiences; from the excitement of enlistment to the training in Egypt and their eventual landing at Anzac Cove.
It won't be the production's first outing with it having had a two-week run at Porirua Little Theatre where it received plenty of positive attention.
However, this time around, Stone said the script and the play as a whole had changed "quite a bit".
"It's a lot shorter with an entirely new cast and a different ending but the changes have definitely been for the best," she said.
Many of the changes have been the work of director Sandy Brewer who most recently worked on the highly acclaimed season of Evita in Wellington.
While Brewer hadn't been involved in the play's initial run, being able to look at it with fresh eyes had proved to be beneficial.
"I was able to go through and make cuts and changes to ensure the story is always progressing and flowing well."
Working on the play had given her a chance to immerse herself in some of the wartime stories she hadn't heard before and decide how best to bring them to the stage.
"A lot of war stories focus on men, which this does to an extent, but we also deal with the family dynamics, women back home and how that all played out."
Fellow Evita alumni Matt Pike will play lead character William Malone - a role he said had taken a lot of research to get right.
"He's such a stoic Kiwi bloke and he had his beliefs straight up and down so there was a lot to get under the skin of, for a character like this," Pike said.
"You can't hit it with with swagger or gusto, you have to really get inside his head."
Pike spent a lot of time reading up on Malone, discovering his romantic side though the letters sent to his wife from the front-line and the way he was said to have spoken with his superiors.
"He really stood up for what he believed in and put his life on the line."
*Voices from the Front at Hannah Playhouse, April 4-8, 7:30pm, to book visit hannahplayhouse.org.nz.