Vampirates at Westside Theatre Tauranga


On arrival at the Westside theatre in Tauranga, we walked a dimly lit corridor, we were spooked from above and grabbed from below then in twos deposited on to a rail-carriage to the Vampirates stage.

The preparation to be shocked was needed as the theme continued. Tauranga Musical Theatre’s production, Vampirates, is the sequel to Curse of the Pearl Necklace.

Stephen Shanks, Colin Del La Varis and Michelle Burnes

Stephen Shanks, Carlos Del La Varis and Michelle Barns

Vampirates delivered on engagement with talented actors and singers, the plot un-believable but entertaining and containing crucial ingredients of goodies, baddies and threat.

The comedy, that scriptwriters / directors Jon Edney and Jamie Parkes used was witty, current, yet sometimes crass. Vampirates was so chock-a-block of comedy it would have left a stand-up comedian dizzy. The master stroke was to deliver the filth (their description) fast as bullets. Much went over my head not only due to the tempo but the English accents the crew had adopted. I wondered if that was because New Zealand was barely inhabited by Europeans prior to and during Queen Victoria’s reign. Then again neither did Shortland Street or the Health and Safety Act and other references the script contained.

Within a few scenes of the show starting we were introduced to the three parties of characters: vampires, the nuns, and the pirates. The links were the priest and ‘his’ alter boy, the captain, and the security guard who had been the pirates’ tea lady but became the lucky survivor, untouched by the vampires’ conversion.

Sam Graham and Chris Parnell

Sam Graham and Chris Parnell

Apart from forced entry to the audience’s eyes and brains, I couldn’t see the point in a dildo being waved around by a nun or a metre-high penis, protruding and wavering momentarily from the stage – even if it was a masterpiece of construction.

The static props, lead by Cat Dwyer, of flag pole and mainstay, entry and exit either side and other props were cleverly done. Sound maestros, lead by James Taylor, conducted a flawless show, from each of the cast members’ microphones through to the accompaniment.

Vocal director Dave Wilson brought together a cast of twenty. Even though the story was pre Victorian, the music was of our modern era. One that that was sung by the nuns played on the English language – words like a ‘rubber’ is an eraser and a ‘cock’ wakes you up in the morning, a ‘shag’ is a sea-bird and a ‘pussy’ is a cat. This song was repeated at the end for the audience’s learning purpose.

Shining vocals were displayed by the Vampire Queen, Michelle Barnes, singing ‘I Put a Spell on You’. Cameron Buchanan as Jagger was an instant hit with the ladies, not just because of his appealing physique but his capturing bell voice. His stage partner Elise Rohde (Tess) may have shined had the songs been in her vocal range and not always in favour of the male voice during their duets.

Brilliance was displayed throughout with the choreography of Lianne Howell. The sex scene between Jagger and Tess, who were fully clothed and standing apart, was cleverly left to the imagination but with some help from overt pelvic thrusts.

To slow down and play with emotional connections might have taken Vampirates to another level, then again maybe not. Only future performances can be measured, this being the show’s debut. If indeed there was room for reflection it would be if we’re lucky, the masses when we go astray, can be saved, even if there is only one or two good guys left.

01 Gillian Cook 5th Aug 16Gillian Cook: Tauranga based children’s author Gillian Cook has a background in journalism and newspaper editing. A member of Tauranga Writer’s Inc. Gillian is a published author who has other work ready to go. Take a look at Gillian’s interview with ARTbop Literary Editor Sam Woodward about her sci-fi young adult fiction and Gillian’ recent image rich review: Tauranga Dance: Gillian Cook reviews where in the world is Wally.

 10404855_904961406214622_4691187998890970394_nJohn Baxter is the host of ARTbop alternative’s online show Altercation.  With Dhaivat Mehta and Polly Moore John interviews and talks to Bay of Plenty creatives.    He is also one of ARTbop’s   contributing photographers.  Multi-talented Baxter is one of the team who started up The Incubator art-space at Tauranga’s Historic Village.  He is currently their Music Manager, a prop maker, event organiser, exhibition curator and event photographer.  With a keen interest in music John can be seen as a singer and guitar play in the local Punk band Liberated Squid.   He’s also the bass and singer with the Tauranga band, The Carradines.   An avid artist, John has exhibited at Gallery 59, the Incubator and more recently at Macandmor Gallery, Goddard Centre, Tauranga.  He’s become a member of the Poetry Incubator and has recited his own work; both poetry and lyrics at the 2016 National Poetry Day.

The art of John Baxter

The art of John Baxter

John Baxter reads at Wharf Street National Poetry Day 2016

John Baxter reads at Wharf Street National Poetry Day 2016

John Baxter and panel talk with Millie Newitt Altercation 2016

John Baxter and panel talk with Millie Newitt Altercation 2016

John Baxter in conversation with Jacqui Gray 2016

John Baxter in conversation with Jacqui Gray 2016

John Baxter and Dhaivat Mehta at QVis brainstorming Altercation 2016

John Baxter and Dhaivat Mehta at QVis brainstorming Altercation 2016


Do not leave me hanging by a thread: a spoken word – poetry YouTube project to support the work of Medecins sans frontieres MSF  – Doctors Without Borders.     You can see Tauranga locals reading their work at the Creative Bay of Plenty Gallery.  Read the promotional article here online.

previewbusiness-carddec2016Corinne Rutherford of PixelFarie Photography. Band and Event Photographer from Tauranga. 

FB:          INSTAGRAM:


4 – 17 January 2017 

Remains of the Day. 

Deborah Forkert has recently again been a finalist in the Tauranga Art Gallery Miles Award. Her unusual medium may surprise you.  More than five years’ practice-based research with one this medium has resulted in a very polished exhibition.

20 Jan – 20 Feb 2017

The Bee Appreciation Society AGM. 

Paintings by Katherine Steeds. A unique and painstaking installation of tiny portraits, in homage to the humble bee.

Anne Stråtveit’s  ART SCHOOL exhibition’s limited edition fine art prints are available now and will continue to be available through the gallery for the foreseeable future.  

During exhibitions the Gallery’s usual opening hours: 11am – 4.30pm every day except Mondays.

But visitors are welcome to browse the gallery outside these hours. Please simply phone for an appointment.

The Cottleston Gallery 

128 Oropi Road, Greerton, Tauranga.  

Contact Katherine Steeds 578 5242 or 0204783337

0204 STEEDS (0204 783337)

Cottlestongallery website



About Author

Leave A Reply