Tarnished Frocks and Divas trustees Anne Pankhurst and Denny Spee.

This weekend, your life could change for the better simply by turning up to Tauranga Boys' College gym.

If you are female and aged 40 or over, and ever fancied yourself on stage as a dancer, model, singer, or just a diva, then now is your chance as auditions are on Saturday and Sunday for a show that is a Tauranga institution, Tarnished Frocks and Divas.

You could be working with top talent like Jackie Clarke, Annie Crummer and Tauranga-based international singer Caitriona Fallon. Actress, singer and comedian Bryony Skillington has also joined the talented cast.


A show like no other, Tarnished Frocks and Divas is a celebration of creativity and empowerment. Every other year, Tauranga gets treated to this sensory extravaganza of revamped retro fashion and theatre.

The hardworking team behind the event is in full swing, as another series of invigorating shows will hit the stage and catwalk at Trustpower Baypark Arena in September.

We meet with Tarnished Frocks and Divas trustees Anne Pankhurst and Denny Spee, with Denny having been involved with the dazzling show since the beginning in 2005, when it was held at the Cargo Shed for an audience of 350 people.

They have helped make it grow to the epic proportions it now has, as the last show was enjoyed by nearly 7000.

"We can't reveal anything about this year's theme yet, but what we can say that there will be quite a change to the set configuration. It is a large venue, but intimacy is important as we want to make sure everyone has the best experience possible," Pankhurst says.

Your life could change for the better simply by turning up to Tauranga Boys' College gym. Photo / Supplied
Your life could change for the better simply by turning up to Tauranga Boys' College gym. Photo / Supplied

"Our models come from different backgrounds, and many of them have overcome huge challenges in their lives. They are all over 40, and being in the show gives them a huge sense of pride and empowerment. The feedback we get from our models is that they find it exciting and fulfilling to be part of it," she says.

This will be the eighth Tarnished Frocks and Divas show, opening on September 25, and the organisers are knee-deep into the production. The team is looking for about 80 models, dancers and singers, to take part, as well as a large volunteer base to help backstage and front of house.

"Tauranga has some amazingly creative people, and we try our best to give everyone a role. Being part of this is a big commitment, but you'll make friends for life, and it is a wonderful way to connect," says creative producer Spee, who supports the creative director and makes sure the vision is translated in a way that appeals to the audience.


Tarnished Frocks and Divas celebrates the fabulousness of women aged 40-plus, and presenting the work of talented designers and performers who live and work locally. The event has grown into a must-see experience that people from all over New Zealand come to see.

"Since the beginnings, more than 1000 people have added something wonderful to the dynamic of the show. They say it is exciting and fulfilling to be part of this story," Pankhurst says. "Most models and some dancers have never been on stage before, and it is a wonderful opportunity for them to celebrate life, and show their passion and gorgeous selves.

"Each show is completely different, but the core values never change. Forty is the magic number, the revamped clothing stays, we have a dedicated team of volunteers, and the effort to involve the audience and making sure they have a fabulous time remains. It's important to us to hold on to this kaupapa, and that's what makes the show," says Spee.

The mission of the inaugural Tarnished Frocks and Divas has always been to celebrate life, along with giving women over 40 the opportunity to gain confidence through upcycled fashion and performance arts. Fourteen years later, the show still enriches the lives of everyone involved.

Tarnished Frocks and Divas 2019
Auditions: This weekend
Show: September 25-28
Tickets become available in May
See tarnishedfrocksanddivas.co.nz