Tauranga Musical Theatre prepares to scare with the Little Shop of Horrors!


Under the direction of Elise Rohde, rehearsals for a Tauranga Musical Theatre Inc. production of The Little Shop of Horrors, will get underway in early February. The performance season at Westside Theatre, 17th Avenue, Tauranga will run from 17th April to 2nd May 2015 with five to six performances a week!

Elise Rohde who has agreed to a “telephone interview” by ARTbop tells me it was unavoidable that she would end up involved in musical theatre. Her Grandmother was on the stage in Tauranga and her Mother Michelle has been involved with Tauranga Musical Theatre Inc. for about 35 years.

Elise started at “day two” and over the years almost by osmosis has absorbed musical theatre. She tap-danced her way to a Diploma which means Elise is qualified to teach dance and has a lifetime of involvement with Tauranga Musical Theatre. Looks like a musical theatre dynasty to me.

Returning from University in 2009 Elise was involved in “Follow Spot” and has “done” every show since. She’s performed, been the Musical Director, a Committee Member and is currently the President of the incorporated society managing the musical theatre operations. Little Shop of Horrors will be Elise’s second directorial role. She’s responsible for everything including script, actual show production, lighting and set: “everything.” Would she do this as a fulltime career? “Yes!”

Tauranga Musical Theatre has been in existence in Tauranga for 75 years; the last 50 years based at the Westside Theatre on 17th Avenue. Before Baycourt was built shows were performed at the Tauranga Town Hall.

Everything is done by member volunteers. Everything means production management, budgeting, lighting and “technicals” The wardrobe and costumes are also created by volunteers. Elise says her Committee based responsibilities take about 8 – 10 hours a week. There’s no territorial authority funding for Tauranga Musical Theatre Inc. There’s a “nest egg” created by ongoing financially successful shows and seasons.

Anyone can become a member of Tauranga Musical Theatre Inc. – there are people of all backgrounds in the Society. It’s from the pool of talented members that casts for the shows are selected. There’s an audition process and decisions are made by a panel including the Director and Musical Director. “Tauranga has a lot of talent,” says Elise.

What’s the plot of Little Shop of Horrors? It’s based on a 1986 film. A plant from outer space appears in a florist’s shop. It feeds on human blood and flesh. It’s a musical comedy and a classic love story gone wrong. Elise’s leading cast members will be Jeremy Sparrow as Seymour and Elisha Taylor as Audrey. Then there’s the plant. There’s a total cast of 13 for this production and its all kicking off this Sunday with rehearsals. There’ll be two to three rehearsals a week until the last couple of weeks when they’ll increase – fever pitch, I think.

The show will be two hours long. It’s definitely a comedy, despite or because of the subject matter. Elise says this show is “a little bit scary” but is often produced by high schools because of the diversity of elements it contains and requires. No, it’s not overly suitable for very little kids but it sounds like it’s going to be a great show for Tauranga’s bigger kids. The production is being sponsored by Metlife Care Villages, Tauranga – good on you!

ARTbop is delighted when Elise informs about the TMTeens mentoring and development programme run by Tauranga Musical Theatre. It’s an investment in youth in all aspects of production and performance. The recently closed “Aladdin” is an example of production mentoring and development by the Society.

Interested in the Tauranga Musical Society Inc. and/or the forthcoming performance of Little Shop of Horrors? There’s a website and facebook page – take a look.

Rosemary Balu


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