Foxton Little Theatre is one of the oldest of its type in New Zealand and every effort is being made to ensure the curtain flings open well into the future.
Horowhenua Chronicle was allowed a quick peak behind the scenes ahead of its latest production Lent, which starts next week, and found every effort was being made to encourage emerging young talent.
Foxton Little Theatre was first established in 1949 and was steeped in history. But like all community organisations, it was faced with the challenges of encouraging and retaining members.
President Carl Terry said with societal attitudes and trends changing, like all community organisations it was important the committee kept one eye on the future, and new blood was vital to ensuring theatre continued to thrive.
"There are more and more soulless pursuits distracting young people these days. It doesn't bode well for the future of humanity," he said.
Now aged 73, he admitted the theatre's committee secured Lent with one of the theatre's promising young members in mind.
The play was a perfect fit for Navah Chapman, who at 16 years old had been involved in numerous productions already in a variety of roles.
"To ensure the future of theatre, you have to bring young people through," he said.
"None of us are here forever."
Terry was a born and bred local and one of the foundation pupils of Manawatū College. He himself became involved with Foxton Little Theatre as a 16-year-old and had never lost that passion for community theatre.
"I got bitten then and have had the bug ever since," he said.
He was reacquainted with the Foxton Little Theatre when he moved back to the region in 2000, after a working life that included a long stint with Radio New Zealand.
Terry said Lent was the perfect vehicle to allow Chapman to experience his debut in a major role, after a succession of supporting parts.
By Michael Wilcox, it is the story of Paul Blake, a 13-year-old orphan preparing to leave the prep school that has been his home and move on to private secondary education.
It is an account of the uncertainties and growing pains associated with young adulthood depicting a young boy centre stage in an adult play.
Mentoring Paul on his journey to adolescence is his avuncular ageing Latin teacher, "Matey".
Their interests being protected by Paul's guardian, Mrs Blake, from the devious and scheming headmaster Edwards and his demented, domineering wife.
A play of love, greed, companionship and hope, the cast of Lent also included Carolyn Allan as Mrs Blake, Bernard and Lynne Long as the Edwards, and Terry himself playing Matey.
Terry, who is also directing the show, said while Lent was a drama, it had threads of hope and compassion with some comedic elements.
Foxton Little Theatre had received sound reviews and recognition through the annual Regional Theatre Awards in recent times.
In 2019, Foxton Little Theatre took out 11 awards that included Best Play of 2019, Best Director, Best Debut Director, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor, Best Supporting Female, Best Supporting Male, Best Emerging Female Actor, Best Connection Between Characters, and Best Concept and Design.
The society also produced the premiere of Gone To Seed, which won the Best New NZ Full-length Play category for playwright Tim Hambleton.
Lent was the second production from Foxton Little Theatre this year, following on from their thriller Wait Until Dark earlier this year. It generally put out three offerings a year, but last year had just two shows due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Weekend shows came with a meal, too.
The Foxton Little Theatre is the oldest building still in use in Foxton. It was built in 1867 by George Nye as the Presbyterian Church.
The first minister was Rev James Duncan who had originally worked as a missionary in the rohe. In 1861 he was inducted as minister to the European settlers and remained as Presbyterian minister until 1897.
In 1970, the Union of the Methodist and Presbyterian congregations meant the church was no longer needed and was eventually sold to the Little Theatre.
Lent opens at 7.30pm on Friday, August 6 at the Little Theatre, Main St, Foxton, and runs each Friday and Saturday until August 21. Bookings can be made at Property Brokers Main St, Foxton, phone 363 0022.