If ever there was an antidote to Rotorua's unfortunate Once Were Warriors image, 8 Scott Ave The Musical is it.
This is one rollicking sing-along, laugh-along show which is Rotorua circa the 1970s to its core. It's a time when a party house was a fun party house, without a menacing Uncle Bully brandishing a pool cue in sight.
At 8 Scott Ave the uncle is Jimmy, that's Jimmy Smith the bookie, whose darkest moments are when his sure-fire race-day winners fail to place at the finish line.
How fortunate this town is that Jack Grace, who plays Jimmy and who penned 8 Scott Ave, (his real-life boyhood home) moved back a couple of years ago, his kete chocker with creative talent. His credentials include winning the Stars In Their Eyes and Showcase televised talent quests.
Grace has roped in the cream of Rotorua's Māori musical scene to breath authenticity into his debut production.
There's Rewa Ututanoga playing Aunty Queenie, Krissie Knapp as Aunty Lovie, Bobby Mihi Howard's Aunty Blossom.
The elegant Katerina Pihera Ridge's Aunty MayMay is the perfect counterpoint for the larger than life, rambunctious other aunties. In the blokes' corner, there's Terrence O'Brien as Chappy, the man Jimmy owes a substantial sum to. Rawiri Bhana and Marcus Geary are the Mormon elders who come calling when a poker school's in full flush.
Up-and-comers Aliyah Stone Taylor (Girlie), Atutahi Potaka Dewes (Sarah) and Hunter Geary round out the cast as Jimmy's assorted whānau.
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It wouldn't be a Rotorua party without a guitar, and all thanks that Richard Anaru is there to lend authenticity to the role.
When the scene switches from 8 Scott Ave it's to a bar that could have been any local drinking establishment of the time, the Geyser Tavern, the Palace or Lake House. Ordering a taxi, Jimmy directs it to the Hob Nob, the Grand's popular watering hole.
Adding seasoning to the opening night mix was a cameo appearance by mayor Steve Chadwick in taxi driver's guise.
It was a wonderful touch to this quintessentially local production with a score of 70s numbers that invite audience participation.
Popular demand has brought the encore season of the show's sell-out November staging. It would be a cultural sin to miss this nostalgic reflection of an era in which Māori poke fun at Māori as the good times roll.
WHAT: 8 Scott Ave The Musical
WHERE: Energy Events Centre
WHEN: Check Eventfinda website
COST: Tickets from $25