The doubters said Kerikeri wasn't ready for a play like The M*********** with the Hat — but a group of theatre enthusiasts is proving them wrong.
The controversial Broadway play was supposed to run for three nights at Kerikeri's Black Box Theatre but that was extended to six after the first shows promptly sold out.
The second batch of tickets is expected to sell out well before the curtain goes up on Thursday.
The show is driven by ''power couple'' John Oszajca (lead actor, producer) and Keshama Jane (director) with four other actors from Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Purerua.
Oszajca said his character, Jackie, is fresh out of prison on petty drugs charges and trying to get his life on track.
He comes home to his girlfriend in a New York apartment after landing his first job when he notices an unfamiliar hat.
''What follows is a story of paranoia, jealousy, rage and misadventure as he tries to figure out whose hat it is,'' Oszajca said.
The R16 play was controversial, largely because of the title, even when first preformed on Broadway.
''It is provocative and profanity-filled but it's not a messed-up story. It's a dark comedy.''
When he first mooted staging The M*********** with the Hat people questioned whether Kerikeri was ready for a play like it.
''But I think people underestimate Kerikeri. There's a big new segment of people who are really hungry and excited to see something different from the big productions, as evidenced by us selling out in eight days.''
The play's name did, however, pose some particular challenges for marketing.
The group had to produce two sets of ads and fliers — one with real name, the other with the sanitised title The Mother with the Hat.
Even so, one supporter was blocked by Facebook after posting a promo, and Oszajca said he had been reluctant to ask shop owners to display the flier in their windows.
All cast members belong to Kerikeri Theatre Company but they have created a new entity, Here We Are Now Entertainment, to keep the play separate from the company's more family-friendly fare.
The show had received zero funding but strong interest, plus the lower costs of performing at a small theatre in Kerikeri's industrial area instead of the Turner Centre, meant it would generate a small profit to be split among the cast.
Many of the same actors performed in the raunchy Ladies' Night — the stage play that inspired the movie The Full Monty — which was so popular it ended up touring Northland.
■ The M*********** with the Hat will be performed at the Black Box Theatre, Sammaree Place, on May 20-22 and 27-29. Got to www.blackboxtheatre.co.nz for tickets, if any are left.