There's nothing better than coming together with fellow community members and enjoying the sound of classic Kiwi anthems, watching a New Zealand story come to life on stage.
And that's exactly what happens when you go along to the Rotorua Musical Theatre's current show.
Enjoying Aotearoa, a New Zealand Rock Musical from your theatre seat, you wouldn't
believe there are many first-timers in the creative team, production crew and cast.
The singing, dancing and acting talent is top-notch, generating plenty of loud whoops, applause and laughs from the audience throughout.
I could barely believe that Lisyah Maber, performing the lead role of Maxine Rawhiti, was debuting in this show as her first time in musical theatre.
There is so much passion in her performance and she is a delight to watch.
A massive shout-out must also go to the fantastic voices and acting talent of Connor Hignett, Tia Tuuta, Ngati Kuia Wehipeihana, Darren Clout, Sue Morrison and the rest of the acting ensemble.
Written by Jamie Lawrence, this environmental story's serious kaupapa is balanced by plenty of laughs and light-hearted moments.
A highlight for me among these many comedic moments was the performance of Justice Bennings by Sue Morrison.
She really gave this cameo role her all and had the audience laughing and cheering, including the men she singled out from the theatre crowd!
A massive hats-off to the live band, featuring the show's musical director Richard Anaru, for helping to bring the Kiwi classics to life, getting the audience clapping, singing and bopping along while also contributing to smooth, engaging scene changes.
Having a live band up on stage alongside the cast adds yet another dimension to the production.
The sound, lighting and set props were also top-notch, with one of my personal prop favourites being the fishermen's boat.
Big congratulations to director Leah Fitzpatrick, who has debuted as a director with this show. She can certainly be proud of herself, her production team and the cast.
I can't think of a better show to go down in Rotorua Musical Theatre history as the only production for 2020.
Make sure you don't miss out on this fantastic production - I guarantee you will be tapping, clapping and singing along before you know it.
The season for Aotearoa, a New Zealand Rock Musical runs until December 5 at the Casa Blanca Theatre.
WHAT: Aotearoa, a New Zealand Rock Musical
WHERE: Casa Blanca Theatre
WHEN: Until December 5
TICKETS: Email firstname.lastname@example.org