One of the hits of this year's Auckland Fringe Festival, Mackenzie's Daughters took out the award for Best Performance Ensemble (comedy). Now it's back for an exclusive engagement at the Basement Theatre with a "rotating cast" of 18 performers including eight who were in the Fringe show. Here, some of the Mackenzie's Daughters' stars share their thoughts about the soap stars they always wanted to be. Or date.
Johanna Cosgrove: My favourite soap character growing up was Hayley Rose Smith (nee Lawson) who was on Home and Away. The Sun Herald described her as "an artistic young widow who has overcome a graffiti problem". At 21, she accepted a proposal from Noah — a guy she repeated Year 12 with — and they married as the spirit of the dead ex-boyfriend, from high school, appeared to her! Her love with Noah was cut short when he was killed in an armed siege in Summer Bay. Of course I wanted to be her! I was 13 years old and all I wanted was spirit boyfriends with frosted tips and chain necklaces. Also she was thin and blonde and puberty had just hit me like a ton of hot sick. Hayley went on to date Kim (played by the severely hot Chris Hemsworth).
Alice Canton: My favourite soap character growing up was, without a doubt, the illustrious Dr Grace Kwan from Shortland Street. I was so obsessed with her because she was strong and sexy and had Chris Warner all choked up. She had an unwavering self-assurance about her job and she saved lives. Remember when she gave Chris an emergency tracheotomy with her Star Trek pen!? I can confidently say, hand-on-heart, I had an unhealthy obsession with her. Kwan was a reality in which I could see myself; she wasn't just anyone or everyone — Kwan was me. Kwan was Asian! She wasn't a fish and chip owner, a bookish nerd or smuggler on Border Patrol. She was a boss! Seeing Kwan on telly every night told me that there was a place for me in mainstream New Zealand, which had everything — and nothing — to do with being different. I think about the immeasurable impact of Grace Kwan on a generation of Kiwis, and wonder whether it's about time Ferndale got another Chinese doctor.
Rhiannon McCall: My favourite female soap character is Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl. I love Blair because she is a bad bitch. She knows herself and she doesn't take any BS from anyone. Her notorious scheming made Gossip Girl worth watching and kept things spicy on the show. Damon Salvatore, from The Vampire Diaries, is the one soap character I've had a huge crush on since I was a teen. Charming, dangerous and, of course, a vampire, he was my dream man. One of my favourite scenes is when Damon and his love interest, Elena, can't deny their sexual chemistry any longer and — against their better judgment (Elena was with Damon's brother, Stefan) — make out in a crappy motel to Florence and the Machine's Never Let Me Go. If you're going to smack a wet one on your boyfriend's brother, that's the hottest way to do it I reckon.
Lana Walters: Waverley Harrison, from Shortland Street, was my favourite. I remember her being quite funny, bumbling and relatable. And who can forget the time she cut off Nick's hair while he was asleep? Iconic! I really wanted to be Waverley because my lifelong dream is to play the receptionist on Shortland Street. In the '90s my family would answer the phone "Kia ora Shortland Street" — it was a classic gag. I don't recall having the hots for Nick Harrison but I have since dated men with long blond hair and fantasised about cutting it off so maybe I'm in denial. I was fully into Fergus (who Waverley also dated). Love a bad boy …
Donna Brookbanks: It was Kylie Minogue on Neighbours, a bit before my time, to be honest, but I watched reruns. Her first album was my first ever cassette tape so I was a bit of a Kylie fan all round, really. She inspired my ill-fated perm look (it was meant to be soft curls but turned out a frizzy afro nightmare) and she looked so cool in a pair of overalls. Also, the girl knew how to fix a car which I thought was so cool. When she married Jason Donovan's character, she had the coolest wedding EVER. That veil! That lace! Those ... sleeves. Amazing. I wanted to be her soooo bad. Especially after she became a singer as well. The Locomotion? I mean come on!
Karin McCracken: I just finished hate-watching Riverdale (no shade) so my favourite is Betty Cooper. She's the classic girl-next-door nurtures an alter-ego character, hereafter called "Dark Betty", who's just Betty in a black wig and shirtless. Dark Betty's entrance is often signposted by Regular Betty telling someone else about the "darkness" inside her. I ended up justifying this bonkers character arc as a kind of tragic comment on young women and the Madonna/whore complex, which was maybe (definitely) generous. Do I want to be that character? That's a hard pass from me. Would not be a teenager again for love nor money, let alone a teenager who feels obligated to track down serial killers.
Brynley Stent: I didn't watch any soap operas growing up, so I'm going to talk about my favourite sitcom character: Phoebe Buffay from Friends. She was the best because she was just so wonderfully weird. I really looked up to her because she was always authentically herself: wacky, kind and she even gave birth to her brother's triplets! How generous is that? She also had a beautiful journey, starting off as a one-dimensional hippy girl but evolving in unexpected and glorious ways. I often find myself playing characters like her. Phoebe had a few love interests during the 10 seasons and a few of them were definitely my type: the geeky scientist character David (Hank Azaria), who was a stammering sweetheart and then, of course, Mike (Paul Rudd). I had a real big crush on Paul Rudd growing up, so it's no wonder I often wanted to be in Phoebe's shoes.
Melanie Bracewell: "I was a big fan of House, which mixed the drama of a typical soap opera with a bit of mystery in each episode. I don't even know if you'd consider it a traditional soap opera but I'm making the rules here. I was such a big fan of the character Lisa Cuddy. She was a strong woman who really used her power as a leader. She made big decisions and stood her ground. I definitely wanted to be her. Mainly because she was mega hot and successful, but also because of how strong-willed she was. I'll be honest, I did also like the fact there was this sexual tension between her and House, SUE ME. I was always a big Hugh Laurie fan in his comedy days, so to see him be a serious, but sarcastic doctor man, was very exciting. If he wasn't an old man, I would totally go there.