In 2008, the Basement Theatre staged its first Christmas production to raise money for airconditioning. The Eight: Reindeer Monologues sold faster than half-price iPhones in a Boxing Day sale so the little-theatre-that-could figured it was on to a good thing and should make the Christmas show an annual event.
For eight years, it has irreverently and hilariously picked apart Christmas traditions with the view nothing is sacred. This year, it's small-town New Zealand, community theatre and mixed messages around Christmas itself in the spotlight.
Is The Opening Night Before Christmas as funny, flippant and festive as its predecessors? Yes, and what's more, experience has shown the production team what's needed to complement the on-stage antics.
It means we get a laugh-out-loud funny show, which is heart-warming without becoming sickly sweet, with first-rate costumes, lighting and sound design. The set, by Rachel Marlow and Brad Gledhill, is a character in itself; spend some time before the show starts reading the posters.
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Basement general manager Elise Sterback writes in the programme notes that the annual Christmas show is a chance to support local writers and theatre-makers. This has paid off for Chris Parker and Tom Sainsbury, who wrote 2014's end-of-year comedy Hauraki Horror.
Already a dynamic duo, they're getting the opportunity to hone their writing, which is droller and sharper. Their wry observations of society's oft-overlooked characters are more confident and astute, but never cruel.
Helped by superb and always energetic performances from Byron Coll, Brynley Stent, Kura Forrester and Sainsbury himself, the small-town oddballs are presented with genuine heart.
Some traditions endure and the Basement has kept a space for a "guest actor" - a new face every night who's had no rehearsals and no information about the show. Like us, they have no idea what is about to happen and it adds to the madcap atmosphere.
Director Sam Snedden says that at first glance it may seem as if they're making fun of amateur dramatics, but they like to think of it as a "love letter" to all the dodgy shows they've been involved with. It most certainly is.
What: The Opening Night Before Christmas
Where & when: Basement Theatre, until December 22