The 100% Kiwi High School Musical
This year’s Middle School production, a ‘juke box’ musical packed full of home-grown Kiwi song tracks by some of New Zealand’s greatest singers and bands, had a serious message about the need for resolution and forgiveness that was delivered in a high energy show, peppered with both humour and emotion.
Set in a contemporary New Zealand high school, the script was familiar in more ways than one; the show was written by former student, Hamish Arthur who is currently an active music teacher and well known musician in Auckland. Hamish is remembered for feature roles in stage productions during his time at the College.
‘For Today’ tells the story of David Miller (Steel Strang), an ex-rugby 1st XV star, who gave away his sport after he was involved in an accident that killed his friend and team-mate, Tom Burrows; an accident that David believes he was responsible for. David is a likeable boy but greatly troubled by his past. Steel maintained David’s sense of teenage angst, worry and low self-esteem throughout the show whilst also giving David a huge degree of dignity.
Following the accident, David’s family moved away to give David some respite but when his father failed to secure employment in ‘small town New Zealand,’ they returned to their roots and David and his sister, Roni (Jessica Allen) rejoined their former school. The audience join the action as the children prepare for their first day back at school.
The show opened in the Miller family kitchen where we were introduced to larger-than-life Ken Miller (Trent MacDonald), the loud-mouthed father of David and Roni who is full of bluster and self-aggrandisement, whilst proclaiming to want the best for his children. The feisty, dry humoured Roni, had the better of her father recognising that his need for his children to achieve had more to do with boasting ‘down the pub’ than the achievement itself. Roni’s feistiness and matter of fact view on life was a constant throughout the show, always tipping the balance back to the mundane; a role she played with a great sense of timing. Roni was clearly a mix of her caring, commonsense mother, Shirley (Becky Lane) and her blunderbuss father; a constant annoyance to her big brother.
The show was full of musical numbers that had been big New Zealand hits in their time. Shirley, Roni and David sing the first song, Goldenhorse’s ‘Maybe Tomorrow,’ each proving that they have fine solo voices.
School the next day was a whole different world as David faced up to his former class mates, in particular, the arrogant, aggressive Jordan (Joseph Bradshaw) who holds David solely responsible for Tom’s death. However, David is shielded by his three close friends, Calvin (Alexander Maehl), Alex (Tom Hammond) and Paul (Matt Devlin) who provide much of the humour in the show. During David’s year away, Sophie (Caitlin Houghton) has joined the school and catches David’s eye. She had dated the aggressive Jordan for a while but could not handle his angry personality. Sophie has a superb singing voice and so the four boys decide they should follow Sophie and join the choir. Their audition number, a thumping rendition of Shihad’s ‘My Mind’s Sedate’ is a real show stopper!
When David lacks the confidence to make a move on Sophie, his irritating, little sister steps into the breach and brings them together; the admiration is mutual but David takes time to show his real feelings. The Mutton Bird’s number, ‘Anchor Me’ is sung as a duet, leaving us in no doubt that both Steel and Caitlin, Year 10 students, have exceptional singing voices; talent we are likely to see more of in the senior school. Meanwhile, Jordan is angry that he has been upstaged by David and leads one of the strongest numbers of the show, Split Enz’s ‘I See Red,’ with backing from the whole chorus, leading to a fight between the boys.
Still lacking confidence, David worries that the fight will put Sophie off going to the Ball with him. But the opening lines of Bic Runga’s song, ‘Something Good’ allays his fears — ‘Just wanna know ya, just wanna talk to ya.’
Sadly, Sophie announces she has to move away as her mother is out of work but they decide to make the best of the Ball. Throughout the show, Tom’s sister, Charlotte (Brodie MacDonald) keeps trying to tell David something but is interrupted each time. To Sophie’s great irritation, she finally sidelines David at the Ball and explains there has been a cover up, that David should not feel responsible for the accident, Tom had been drinking to excess and was responsible for his own death, a fact that had been covered up through bribery. David was finally free to be at peace. Charlotte tells David not to waste a minute telling Sophie how he feels about her as they sing, Greg Johnson’s ‘Don’t wait another day’. Unfortunately Sophie catches David and Charlotte hugging and gets the wrong end of the stick but all is finally resolved and even Jordan finds it in his heart to forgive David. The show ends with the whole cast on stage singing Netherworld Dancing Toys’ song, ‘For Today.
This year’s production brought a cast of over 50, a 14 piece orchestra and a 50 strong technical crew together under the guidance of Director, Mr Dave Sheehan; Producer, Mrs Juliet Dale; Singing Director, Oliver Gilmour; Dance Director, Miss Clare Jennings; Orchestra Director, Mr Kristian Holmes; Production Technician, Glen Mortensen and Costumer, Ms Sarah Winham. We thank the staff for their huge commitment in time to work with our Middle School students to bring such a great show to the stage.