It's become a Taupō tradition - Act 2 Visual & Performing Arts School's end of season production.

Each year the students at the school spend hundreds of hours rehearsing, preparing and perfecting their performances for the big nights. Past years' shows have included Shrek, The Wiz and Seussical.

But this year is different, thanks to Covid-19. Enrolments at the school dropped off during lockdown although Act 2 artistic director Toni Neve continued delivering classes and workshops via Zoom. With income taking a hit, that's directly impacted the $22,000 cost of staging the end-of-year production, Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Rotorua Lakes Council Performing Arts director Cian Elyse White on 2020
Kāpiti Performing Arts Centre construction well on target
Auckland Theatre Company zooms back into life with Chekhov classic


The production is the culmination of the year's work for the young performers at Act 2 so to have to cancel it would be heartbreaking for all involved.

Toni has forged ahead with planning for the show and launched an appeal for local help titled The Show Must Go On with the aim of raising $15,000 of the money needed to put it on. That would enable her to pay for the things that are needed before the doors open to the public, including sound, costumes, set and the show rights, which are worth $4000 alone.

She's already had Taupō businesses Great Lake Scaffolds and Cozy Corner donate to the appeal, with Ironman NZ also contributing and a grant from Creative Taupō providing a $2000 kick start. Toni is grateful for the support.

She says businesses who donate $500 will get two social media posts and a half page advert in the show programme, of which 1000 will be printed for the four-show run in October.

Act 2 artistic director Toni Neve. Photo / File
Act 2 artistic director Toni Neve. Photo / File

"This way they are actually getting something for [a donation], I'm not just asking for a hand out."

Accessing grants is difficult for Act 2 as it is a business. Normally Toni does not need to ask for help to put the show on but says with only half of Act 2's usual enrolments during lockdown, the income no longer covers anything apart from overheads.

"A lot of kids dropped out because they didn't have devices in the house or couldn't independently get on to the online work. A lot of parents struggled to keep their kids on it, some parents were so overrun with everyone trying to have everything online at the same time. I've lost a whole term of income."

Toni says she knows it's tough for everybody right now but the show is the flagship event and the payoff for the year's work for the students. She says any help or donations are appreciated and if they're not a business she is happy to give back via complimentary show tickets.


■If you can help support Act 2's production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, contact Toni at or visit the Act2 Visual and Performing Arts School's Facebook page.