Everyone's got a dream job in Mr Sandman
By Paul Brooks
Mr Sandman, the Sharyn Underwood School of Dance big stage production, was delayed by Covid-19 but will rock the Royal Wanganui Opera House this Saturday and Sunday.
"I just made the story around the fact that kids have all sorts of dreams," says Sharyn. "People have good dreams, bad dreams, crazy dreams, so we have all sorts of dreams."
Like all of Sharyn's shows, Mr Sandman is an original production.
Three of the principals are Oisin Broadhead, Emily Corcoran and Nikita McDonald.
Emily (12) is the child dreamer, in whose dreams the rest of the cast dance.
"I have lots of different kinds of dreams," she says. The dancers bring the dreams to life and Emily joins them in some of the dances. Mr Sandman (Oisin) takes her on dream adventures.
Emily has been dancing from a very early age.
"I did ballet when I was 4 and when I was about 5 I started jazz with Sharyn."
Oisin has been dancing for almost 10 years, having started when he was 8.
"My Mum came home and was talking about how Sharyn didn't have enough guys [dancing], so I said I'd give it a shot and I've been doing it ever since," he says. Now, at 18, he is Mr Sandman in this year's production.
"I'm the magical character who brings dreams to all. It's a big role and I'm really honoured to be a lead in one of Sharyn's shows."
Oisin's choreography was directed by Joana Simmons, who is in Melbourne and can't get home.
"She face-times me on her phone, plays the music through her laptop and shows me the moves," says Oisin.
"Oisin's done all the voice-overs himself," says Sharyn. He recorded in a studio at Whanganui High School.
"Joana was meant to be in the acting part of Oisin's voice-overs but since she can't be here and I didn't want to replace her ... she choreographed Oisin. So that's been interesting."
Nikita was supposed to be continuing her performing arts studies at Ettingshausens in Sydney but Covid-19 saw her stranded in New Zealand, learning by Zoom. She says she'll pick up where she left off next year. As well as dancing in Mr Sandman, she has been heavily involved in the show's choreography.
"Sharyn asked me to do some work on the show with her. I helped with the music and choreographing the little ones with Emma [Henare] and Abby [Squire] who also dance in the show.
"As dancers we help the storyline. Each dance is in a section of the show — Wonderland, Flying, Family, Fairytales and Freedom — pulling the story together. Each dance goes with each category, so we picked music and choreography to go with each theme."
Sharyn, with Nikita, Abby, Emma and, via video link from Australia, Joana, together whittled down a long list of musical numbers to create Mr Sandman.
"We inspire each other," says Nikita. "And being able to help with the choreography, we get to show that as well as our dancing."
"Working together was good," says Sharyn. "Everyone had different ideas."
Mr Sandman is on this Saturday and Sunday at 5pm in the Royal Wanganui Opera House. Tickets are still available.
Dancers from Intro 4 level upwards are participating in the show, leaving the younger dancers to have their own show under the direction of Tori Rivers — Junior Showcase, on the Royal Wanganui Opera House stage on Sunday at 2pm.