In Auckland, it's as Christmas as the Franklin Rd lights, the Farmers Santa Parade and losing your rag because you can't find a carpark during December late night shopping at St Lukes. It's the Basement Theatre's annual Christmas show and, like a shopping mall Santa Claus, it arrives this week.

Award-winning theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog brings the Christmas crazy this year, competing to keep up the high standards set by previous shows. These have included novel takes on Charles Dickens and the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, appearances by a Real Housewife and Kim Dotcom and reindeers telling it like it really is when you have to travel round the world and back again in less than 24 hours.

The premise goes something like this: in Auckland, naughtiness has taken over and Santa's ready to take the law into his own hands. Have you been naughty or nice and which list are you on? If it's not the right one, you better watch out.

A Slightly Isolated Dogs' core players - Hayley Sproull, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson and Susie Berry – star but, in Basement Christmas tradition, there's a secret celebrity guest each night.


Seasoned performers and Basement Theatre favourites Amanda Billing, Antonia Prebble, Claire Chitham, Dave Fane, Fasitua Amosa, Jaquie Brown, James Roque, Jarod Rawiri, Jennifer Ward Lealand, Jesse Griffin, Laura Daniel, Madeleine Sami, Oliver Driver, Te Radar and Tom Sainsbury make an appearance.

But there are some who might be less familiar with treading the boards on indeed New Zealand Christmas traditions. We asked them, "why do you want to do this?"

Chlöe Swarbrick, Green Party MP:
"I turned 17 in the middle of final rehearsals for Auckland Theatre Company's Young and Hungry, just before we packed into the Basement Theatre to start our two-week season. Abigail Greenwood, the incredible director, asked me how 16 had treated me. I said it was the best year of my life so far.
The Basement has continued featuring as the backdrop to a whole heck of a lot of significant events in my life - bad dates, good dates, laughs and tears. The Christmas show is an institution and it'd be a major regret if I passed up the opportunity to play a tiny part in bringing it to life.

"I'm expecting fun. I'm expecting a non-stop treadmill of Auckland city in-jokes, painfully self-aware commentary on the state of the nation and the creation of some memories we all can cherish. With all profits going to artist development, there will be good karma, too.

"It'll be a chance to get silly (as it is the season), a chance I'll be grabbing with both hands to round out a clanger of a year in campaigning and, of course, the formation of our new Government. Here's to ensuring the years keep getting better."

Miriama Kamo, television host, presented and producer:
"Agreeing to being part of The Basement's Christmas play was the last thing I wanted to do, which is ultimately why I agreed to do it. I refuse to be led about by my fears, so I quickly said yes before sense set in. Gulp. Now, I'm just terrified… and a little excited and quite curious. It all sounds a bit raucous and fun and funny. If it's also a bit ridiculous then it'll be right up my alley, because I'm wont to do ridiculous things, like saying yes when I should've said no. Thing is, I'm also a wee bit proud that I said yes, because I'm hopelessly indecisive - I think. Maybe I'm not, because I said yes straight away. Anyway, I said yes, so I'm in, and I'm blimmin' doing it - and I'm in great company. Great lineup, excellent performers, legendary theatre and raising money: what better reasons to say yes. Why didn't I think of all that in the first place..? See you there!"

Urzila Carlson, comedian:
"When asked if I'd do the Christmas show at the Basement, I agreed because I really like the space, I love Christmas (NOW) and I have nothing else on during that period. I say I like Christmas now because when I was a kid I guess I liked it, it never really made a huge impact on me because we grew up very poor, so it was just time off school and running around in the African heat! But now it's different, I love Christmas, it's a very exciting time, I'm usually one of the first people to buy a Christmas tree from my local fire station and the kids, the wife and I start decorating immediately!

"Well, I say we all decorate but we put the decorations on and the kids take it off again and play with it. I start buying gifts from the beginning of the year and sometimes I almost make it to Christmas before giving the gifts to the kids. I've moved from Christmas indifference to Christmas excitement!

"I have no idea what I'm doing at the Christmas show but I'm sure it will be a lot of fun and just add to the build-up and excitement of my Christmas. I do want to make it clear though that I'm not into Christmas music. That has not changed and won't ever change - except for Boney M, of course, but I think we can all agree that when it comes to Christmas songs they're in a league of their own."