Footrot Flats musical is a trip through Kiwiana history
For anyone who grew up reading Footrot Flats, seeing the musical brings the books to life.
Stratford on Stage's latest production, which is currently being fine-tuned, features all of Murray Ball's beloved characters, including Wal, Dog, Cooch, Aunt Dolly, Cecil, and Pongo.
Right from the start of one of the final run-throughs before this Saturday's opening night, the stage is easily recognisable as Dog's water tank, Wal's home and the tree that he was always going to cut down but never got around to doing.
A Kiwi musical wouldn't be complete without the sound of Dave Dobbyn and the song list includes tracks such as Slice of Heaven and Oughta be in Love, as well as other classics such as The Gumboot Song, sung by a cast with surprising talent.
The musical, written by Roger Hall and directed by Tracey Blake, follows a number of Wal and Dog's escapades, whether it's shearing the sheep, going to the movies with Cheeky Hobson or playing dress-ups with Wal's niece, Pong.
Kevin Hosking, your average kiwi bloke, and the enthusiastic Joelle Dunlop work well together as Wal and Dog, while Paula Stieller and Lucy Green are perfect fits for Aunt Dolly and Pongo respectively.
The long cast list also features Elicia-May Hitchcock, who performed in Sister Act with the New Plymouth Operatic Society this year, and former Stratford councillor Roger Hignett makes a cameo as the voice of presenter John Gordon.
The set was made locally from timber straight off an old farm building, giving it an authentic weathered look and the cabbage tree in the corner is a real tree top.
Blake said while she didn't release it when she picked the play, it marks 25 years since Stratford on Stage did the musical as their first ever performance.
While none of the actors in the current production were involved in the first one, Blake said costume designer Patsy Commerford had been with the group right from the start.
The show features actors young and old and also holds something of interest for all ages.
Blake compared it to a Disney movie, with humour for the kids mixed with a splash of double innuendo that only the adults would pick up on.
The lighting and makeup round up a wonderful community based performance.
Footrot Flats: The Musical is on between 29 October and 5 November, at The Kings Theatre Stratford.