The main theatrical event on the Coast this year was at Otaki – as usual. The show was Whistle Down the Wind, the production was by Otaki Players, and the players were drawn from the grass roots of the Kapiti Coast.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise given past performances to see the quality of what was produced here. Starting with the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman with their very musical music and a good story, there is the actual performance on stage. On this the show stands or falls. It stood! It is a curious thing that from this district come apparently ordinary people who become extraordinary actors. The guidance of Rob Heather, Tua Faavale and Graham Orchard achieve this. And it’s not just guidance, but the belief that the people who offer themselves can do it, and do it they did.
Esmay Goodman was a joy to see and hear. She handled the role of Swallow, the lead, and did it well. With her lovely voice and natural acting we can look forward to seeing a lot more of this talented young woman in the years to come. Tua Faavale, a familiar face in “Players” productions, was the escaped convict with an admiring flock of children who thought he was Jesus Christ. For one or two moments he rose to the occasion. Tua showed us what a seasoned performer he is in this role which demanded real ability to do with credibility. Amos (Cameron Lafrantz) and Candy (Madi Potiki-Grayling) were the two with leather jackets who were suffocating in the small-town culture, and coupled up to find that elusive thing called “freedom” on his motorbike.
In contrast, the sheriff (Simon Potiki) set out to impose “peace”, and impose it he did – his version, his rules, gun at the ready and menace in his voice.
A regular feature of “Players” productions has been children. They come onto the stage, sing their songs and do their parts – and they are an absolute delight. (A lad who sat in the audience a short distance from me was itching to get into the action. I encouraged him.) All credit to those who coached them and turned them into the stage performers which they were.
The actual details of the performance was one thing, but there was a message. It started with “them Gard fearin’ folks of Loousiana” who showed themselves to be readily roused to “get after the devil”, and then another kind of religion which involved the use of snakes and other gimmickry to awe those who are ready to be awed. These contrasted with the faith of the children who trusted in the bad guy – and, through their innocence, all but transformed him into the Jesus that they thought he was. It sure does make you think, don’t it?