Play's director 'thrown in the deep end'

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 08/10/2012
Nicci Smith
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
STEPPING UP: Entertaining Angelsnf director Nicci Smith sits in Inglewood’s Cue Theatre before its matinee show yesterday

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Inglewood's Cue Theatre knows all about the old saying, "the show must go on".

Its production of Entertaining Angels opened with a smooth performance on Saturday night, but it hadn't been all plain sailing in the lead-up to opening night.

About three months ago, shortly after naming her cast of five, director Sharren Read was involved in a serious car accident south of Piopio.

The crash left her with 30 stitches in her head, severe concussion, nerve damage and a broken sternum.

Although she is expected to make a full recovery, Mrs Read was unable to continue in the director's role.

Cue Nicci Smith.

Mrs Read suggested the 41-year-old as a possible replacement and after considerable thought, Mrs Smith took up the challenge.

"It's been bittersweet really," Mrs Read said.

"It was quite soul-destroying having to let it go but at the same time I just knew that play had to be put on at Cue Theatre, that was really important."

Taking over had been easier than expected, Mrs Smith said.

However, she had to thank the cast for being patient while she found her feet.

"Normally you get to pick the play and have about a year to plan etcetera, but in this case I was definitely thrown in the deep end," she said.

Before she started, Mrs Smith was able to get some advice and direction from friend Peter Meikle, who was coincidently directing the same play at Auckland's Howick Little Theatre.

Entertaining Angels is an English comedy by Richard Everett.

The story is centred around clergyman's wife Grace, who has spent a lifetime on her best behaviour but who, after the death of her husband, starts to enjoy a new-found freedom for doing and saying as she pleases.

Mrs Smith said that during the play, a nasty family secret is revealed and the audience is shown how Grace copes with it.

"It's got some very happy moments, but it's also got some very sad moments," Mrs Smith said.

"I think we might have made a couple of people cry last night [Saturday]."

Mrs Smith, who is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, is a two-time New Plymouth Repertory Society director who celebrates her 10th year in Taranaki next month.

She said although the play was a comedy, the story had a lot more depth.

"It really does make you think how you would react, and how you would deal with these situations."

Mrs Smith said they had some great feedback from opening night, and attributed much of the credit to initial director, Mrs Read.

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"She found this gem of a play and cast such a talented group of actors.

" I'd like to thank Sharren for putting my name in the hat. I just wish it wasn't under these circumstances."

Entertaining Angels runs until October 20.

Jo Hills' review will appear in tomorrow's Arts and Entertainment pages.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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