Wow. Just wow. That was the overall feeling left after watching Hāwera Repertory Society's Through The Decades, playing now at Hāwera Memorial Theatre.
From the opening number There's No Business Like Show Business performed by the entire company, through to the finale, also featuring the entire company, this production hit all the high notes, with not a single flat or low note to be heard or seen.
Director Russ Standing has done a fantastic job on putting together this collection of the very greatest moments from Hāwera Repertory Society's 75 years of shows.
His careful curation of individual songs, shows and acts gave a seamless feel to the whole production as the cast took the audience on a journey through all that is great in theatre. From the emotion of the songs he selected from Evita and Les Misérables, to the fun, frivolity and high energy of Half a Sixpence's Flash Bang Wallop, not only was there something for everyone, but everyone brought something to the stage.
The comperes, Richard Kennedy-Moffat and Mike Powell, did a brilliant job of introducing the individual pieces or selections, while also sharing some genuinely fascinating snippets of history with the audience.
Every single member of the cast show plenty of talent and skill on stage, and Russ has done an outstanding job in matching individual performers to pieces that don't just show their talent, but shine the very brightest spotlight on the talent Hāwera Repertory Society has access to.
It wasn't all just song and dance, there were excerpts from plays as well, with an excerpt from Charity Begins so well done, it left the audience wanting to see the rest of the play right then and there.
Diane Fagan was one of the actors performing in that excerpt and she stayed on stage for the next, solo, piece, the song You Just You from Wild Violets. It was beautifully performed and set a high standard for the rest of the night.
Another talented performer the audience clearly wanted more from was Sarah Wagstaff. From the energy of her performance in the song from Pirates of Penzance, to the perfect pitch as she sang the narrators part in Song of the Kings (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) it was easy to be transported to any West End or Broadway Theatre.
By the time she sang the beautiful ballad As Long As He Needs Me (Oliver) she had the audience transfixed, and there is real talent in her ability to give that song the perfect Cockney accent while not missing a beat.
From that, she moved to a duet - Suddenly Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors) with Andrew Beale and they made the perfect pairing on stage - another song that left the audience wanting to see the whole show. Andrew's performance in the excerpt from Four Flat Whites was another audience favourite, and rightly so.
Deb Thomas also had the audience in the palm of her hand for her performances, with the highlight being her rendition of Don't Cry for Me Argentina. She stayed almost completely still, letting her voice carry all the emotion and beauty of the song, in a performance that stayed with me long after the final curtain fell.
Paula Frearson's I Could Have Danced All Night (My Fair Lady) was another top moment of the show, and I was relieved to see her feature again, this time paired with Shaun Campbell as they sang Tale As Old As Time (Beauty and Beast) in perfect harmony.
Shaun had plenty of stand-out moments in this show, with his performances in two of the excerpts from Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat packed full of perfect energy and harmony. Another star was on stage at this point, with Robert Richards playing the role of Pharaoh definitely putting Elvis in the building.
Charles Pittams was perfectly cast to sing Fiddler on the Roof's fun If I Were A Rich Man and Noah Hunt's Flash Bang Wallop (Half a Sixpence) showed a real flair for musical theatre while Maren Seaver and Bergan Raikes' performance of an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet, was worthy of being staged at The Globe, it was so well done.
With so many fantastic performers, it is no surprise the adult ensemble was packed full of talent and while they didn't have solos, Rubeana Reader and Tial TeWiki both stood out every time they were on stage.
This might have been a celebration of the past 75 years of Hāwera Repertory Society, but it could also be taken as a taste of all the great things yet to come, as there is clearly plenty of talent when it comes to theatre in Hāwera.