By Roger Childs
Where can you get a good evening’s entertainment like this for $20? Coaster Maurice Piper
An entertaining night of Aussie and Kiwi songs
Across the Ditch was the latest Coasters show on the boards at their Paraparaumu Theatre. It was the usual non-stop performance with plenty of variety, enthusiasm and humour.
As you would expect from a non-professional group of singers covering over 40 items, the quality of the performance was uneven, however there was no lack of gusto and energy.
The Coasters Musical Theatre is a cultural institution in Kapiti and having moved around the area over the years they are now settled in their own premises in Hinemoa Street.
A winning formula
- having a theme: Oscars, Scottish culture, Irish dance and music, Aussie-Kiwi links
- setting up the hall with tables so that patrons can consume drink and nibbles during the performance
- ensuring that no-one is more than a chippie throw from the stage, so this is intimate theatre
- encouraging audience participation.
The performers are very obviously enjoying themselves and led by Director Graham Stevens love dressing up and hamming it up. Graham himself did impressive impersonations of Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson.
The atmosphere is very casual and one item quickly rolls into the other. As well as encouraging the audience to sing along and identifying a few patrons they know, the cast are happy to handle the odd cries of Go Grandma! and Give it to them Barb!
Plenty of highlights
The 20 performers provided plenty of entertainment and although they wouldn’t be happy with some items, most were performed very well.
From Gwen Greenham’s lovely rendition of the Maori section of our national anthem to the final rousing treatment of the feel good True Kiwi Way, the cast kept things moving and the customers satisfied.
This is not West End or Broadway standard, however there were some standout items
- Musical Director Jess Clough and the Teo sisters singing Sweet Inspiration
- Katherine Goodwin’s You’re the Voice: one of the evening’s best solos
- Selina Teo’s version of the song made famous by Hayley Westenra, Who Painted the Moon Black?
- Arthur Rowney, probably the pick of the male cast, giving a moving rendition of the Australian anti-war song And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
- The Gumboot Song given a rousing treatment by the Freds clad in black singlets and shorts
- The full company singing I am Australian and True Kiwi Way.
Regular attenders at Coasters shows always look forward to hearing 80+ Pat Barry sing. He gave a heart-rending treatment of How Great Thou Art but She Wears My Ring and Hush Not A Word To Mary, did not suit his style.
Good entertainment but room for improvement
Across the Ditch was good heartland musical theatre. Given that this was a show performed by enthusiastic amateurs, most of the 40 odd items were performed tunefully and professionally.
It was a pity that an early duet was off key and that some of the soloists attempted songs beyond their capabilities. It’s great to give individuals encouragement, however in future shows the directors need to ensure that all singers can hold their tunes and give polished performances.
The audience obviously enjoyed the show, participated with vigour and felt it was good value for the price of admission.
For me there was just one major disappointment, having learnt the words and practised in the shower I wasn’t given the opportunity to join in the singing of Advance Australia Fair.