If you have never been to the Octagon Theatre, you should go! It has been an icon of Whangarei since 1948. The reason it has been so popular, the evolving Octagon talent has always been so good.

Old School is the latest production, directed by Wendy Berridge and the last one for this year. The music transition through the 50s, rock and roll, and the 70s is still popular, proving the lasting power of this magic era of music.

In 1955, Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock came to us in the film Blackboard Jungle, set in a school in the roughest part of a big city, and the term " juvenile delinquent" became the label of all teenagers who felt the urge to get out from under cultural oppression.

The opening scene of Old School is the classroom where teacher Trish Fowke is trying to steer the class into a refined style of music, and the class has other ideas.


The opening song Blue Suede Shoes was belted out by Brad Lang and, later, Twist and Shout. The girls' harmonies backing up Lollipop was also a great sound, and the songs kept coming.

The early 1960s featured These Boots are Made for Walkin', originally by Nancy Sinatra, and kept the pace going. Then a dramatic change - Nancy's Dad, Frank, had a big hit in My Way, and Lang did it full justice.

The clapping continued in rhythm with Lean on Me, sung by Cam Dow, driven by the powerful spiritual beat demanded in the song.

Throughout the show accompanying pianist Cathy Teinaki and guitarist Henk Jelsma held the backing together - tastefully, professionally, and powerfully. It was solid.
As the show came to a close, the biggest surprise came in the carol, The 12 Days of Christmas, which had the audience rocking with laughter.

Old School opened last Friday and runs Thursdays to Sundays until December 4, at The Octagon Theatre. Book at the Piggery Bookshop in Walton St, or phone 4385481. Dinner and show or show only options.