The Matariki Glow Show returns to the Royal Whanganui Opera House stage in winter, promising an all-new show to celebrate the first nationwide Māori New Year public holiday.
The glow-in-the-dark puppet show tells the story of te kāhui whetū o Matariki (the star cluster/whānau of Matariki) as they gather to light up the skies for te tau hou Māori (Māori New Year).
Producer Irene Chappleback said audiences could expect to see an "all-new, giant-scale puppet show for tamariki, educators and whānau".
The show also has a special local connection as the soundtrack for the show was written by Whanganui-born composer Midge Perez.
Perez was drawn to making music early in his life and credits teachers at Castlecliff, Rutherford and Whanganui High School for encouraging his talent, which earned him a scholarship to study at Brigham Young University in Hawaii.
When he returned to Whanganui in 2000, Perez joined the crew at Awa FM hosting the rangatahi (youth) programme Ka Mau Te Wehi with Hoani Maniapoto.
Now the principal lecturer in singing and music at Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland, Perez has been an actor, writer and youth worker, and even spent 18 months as a cocktail pianist working on cruise ships.
He began working with the glow show's creator, Sarah Burren, in 2017 and continues to compose and direct the musical parts.
"Midge brings years of experience as a performer, producer, writer and director for stage, film and television," Chappleback said.
"And director Rokalani Lavea is a performer across dance, music, screen and theatre, and most recently starred in the TVNZ series The Panthers."
The show brings the mythical tale to life with its unique puppets, which glow under UV lights in a black-box theatre. Told in te reo Māori and English, the show is designed to educate as it entertains, with its cutting-edge concept, upbeat original soundtrack, and themes of whakawhanaungatanga, friendship and togetherness.
Chappleback said more than 61,000 tamariki, educators and whānau have seen the show since its launch in 2017, and reviewers have described the experience as "spellbinding" and "captivating".
There will be two shows for age groups at the Royal Whanganui Opera House: An 11am show suitable for 0-5 (ECE/Year 1) for 30 minutes and a 1pm show suitable for 6-12 (Years 2-8) for 50 minutes with patai (Q&A) afterwards.
The Matariki Glow Show: Royal Whanganui Opera House, Tuesday, July 12, at 11am and 1pm. Doors open 20 minutes before the start. Tickets are $13.50 for the 11am show and $15.50 for the 1pm show. It is free for children under 18 months sitting on an adult's lap. Book at the Opera House, phone (06) 349 0511.