New Plymouth's Priscilla helps consortium hit new heights

New Plymouth’s blockbuster production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert helped a national organisation have its biggest year on record.

The NZ Musical Theatre Consortium recorded a mammoth 2019, with more than 150,000 people flocking to see the 19 productions staged around the country under its banner. 

In New Plymouth a whopping 12,446 people danced through the doors of the TSB Showplace for Operatic Society’s sell-out production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Sister Act was one of the 19 productions staged around New Zealand under the consortium banner. CREDIT: All photos supplied by NZ Musical Theatre Consortium

Priscilla was a part of the national consortium’s 2019 huge playbill, which featured nearly 20 productions, 238 performances and a line-up of some of the biggest name musicals in the world.

As well as Priscilla in New Plymouth, the consortium playbill also included Phantom of the Opera in Blenheim, We Will Rock You in Christchurch, Les Misérables in Napier, Mamma Mia in Palmerston North, Avenue Q in Queenstown, and Wicked in Dunedin.

Co-chair of the consortium Markham Lee says musical theatre in New Zealand is going through a golden era.

Mamma Mia

“Societies currently have access to the very best musicals in the world through the consortium model – with our country often being the very first in the world to be granted the community theatre rights to these mega-musicals,” Lee says.

Co-chair Kevin Landrigan says each production under the consortium banner represents a huge number of people and a vast volume of volunteer hours.

“Its impossible to keep track of the number of volunteer hours that go into each and every one of these productions,” Landrigan says.

Les Misérables

“From the casts onstage, the musicians in the orchestras, to the stage crews, wardrobe teams and even the theatre ushers, the vast majority of people involved in each and every one of these shows in every centre do it for the love of it.

“It would not be inconceivable to think that more than one million volunteer hours from Kiwis throughout the country would have been contributed to staging these productions – and that’s just in the 2019 calendar year.”

Under the consortium model community theatre groups from all around the country pool their resources to secure the performance rights, and design and build the product, with local casts, crews and orchestras staging the production in their home towns.

Avenue Q

Currently touring New Zealand and playing seasons in various towns and cities in 2019 were consortium productions of We Will Rock You, Wicked, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sister Act, Mary Poppins, Grease, Miss Saigon, Avenue Q, and The Phantom of the Opera.

The Consortium has confirmed the Roald Dahl and Tim Minchin spectacular Matilda – The Musical will be the next mega-hot show to hit New Zealand.

Matilda will be premiering at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch in April 2021, before filling theatres in every major town and city in New Zealand through to 2025.

A re-imagined production of the classic My Fair Lady will also hit the NZTC circuit from 2020.