A journey through the decades is on the programme for Hāwera Repertory Society this year.

The society is celebrating its 75th jubilee this year, and has a special production planned as part of the celebrations.

Called Hāwera Repertory Through The Decades, the production will be directed by Russ Standing, who himself has a long association with the society.

"I actually put together the celebration for the 50th jubilee of the society back in 1995," he says.


While the society is celebrating 75 years, there has been a strong and proud tradition of theatre in Hāwera itself for even longer.

"There have been theatre groups in Hāwera for a long time, but they kept getting interrupted by wars."

Russ says records show there was a Hāwera Operatic Society in the town back in 1895, but it went into recess when World War I began.

"After the war the Hāwera Operatic Society started up again, putting on its first production after the war in 1922. The show was A Chorus Girl and featured a chorus of 52."

The society continued staging shows for the next 18 years, before World War II meant it had to go back into recess.

The Hāwera Repertory Society as it is today was established straight after World War II ended. By then, says Russ, Hāwera was reputed to be one of the most musical rural towns in New Zealand.

"The town had many notable actors, directors and conductors over the years."

The list of those notable characters includes Harry "HCA" Fox, the renowned New Zealand conductor. In his time he was the conductor of the Hāwera Municipal Band, which won many national, regional and local awards over the years.


Music is in the blood of the Fox family, with Harry's grandson Rodger Fox also well known in the world of music. Rodger is New Zealand's foremost jazz trombonist, big band leader, jazz educator, arranger and producer.

Another famous alumni is Gladys Armstrong, QSM, who is well known for her role as Dame Malvina Major's accompanist for many years, says Russ.

"Gladys still supports the society and will be playing the piano for the auditions for this show."

Since it was formed in 1945, the society has staged hundreds of productions, including light opera, Shakespearean plays, modern musicals and variety shows as well as many other productions.

The auditions for the latest production will take place this month says Russ.

"A lot of interest has already been shown in the show, and even before the auditions I can say with confidence the roles will all be filled with excellent, talented performers."


It will be a fantastic show he says, helped by the fact it will take place in "a great facility", the Hāwera Memorial Theatre. The Hāwera Memorial Theatre Trust has joined forces with the Hāwera Repertory Society for the production, says Russ.

The show itself will comprise a selection of songs from the many popular musicals the society has produced over the years, as well as excerpts from some of the plays the society has also put on.

"It's real family entertainment and will celebrate the long and distinguished history of the Hāwera Repertory Society over the years."

Auditions: All inquiries to Russ Standing on 027 242 3904 or email ressellss@xtra.co.nz or info@hawerarep.org. Audition dates are August 15 - 2pm, August 16 - 7pm and August 22 - 2pm.