Show booked-out be­fore open­ing

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

A stage pro­duc­tion by Wesley youth is a rag­ing suc­cess even be­fore open­ing night to­mor­row.

Our Street, which tells the story of two cross-cul­tural wed­dings set amid singing, danc­ing and hu­mor­ous mishaps, has al­ready been booked out.

Ex­tra mati­nees were added which are also fully booked and friends and fam­ily of the cast who couldn’t get tick­ets have been in­vited to tonight’s dress re­hearsal.

“I orig­i­nally thought we should have gone to the ASB Theatre. I was con­fi­dent it would sell out,” says artis­tic di­rec­tor Jus­tine Simei-Bar­ton.

The show, which is funded by the Auck­land City Coun­cil, has a cast of 27, rang­ing in age from 10 to 47.

Most come from Wesley and the sur­round­ing sub­urbs.

The pro­duc­tion also fea­tures two bands – the Band of Wesley, who are also char­ac­ters in the play, and a 33piece Ton­gan brass band.

Ms Simei-Bar­ton says work­shops were run where par­tic­i­pants talked about sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences from their lives.

“We had two very ba­sic ideas as start­ing points, sto­ries based on greet­ings and rit­u­als around food.”

All the work­shop groups came up with the idea of a wed­ding, which in­cor­po­rates the two con­cepts.

“All the cul­tural el­e­ments come into play in a wed­ding,” says Ms Simei-Bar­ton.

In Our Street, a north In­dian is mar­ry­ing a south In­dian and a Samoan is mar­ry­ing a Maori.

It is set in three houses – an In­dian house, a Pa­cific Is­land house and a gang house.

North In­dian theatre com­pany Prayas is in­volved, with mem­bers play­ing char­ac­ters in the In­dian house.

“The story is a sin­gle mother bring­ing up three chil­dren and one of them is get­ting mar­ried,” says as­sis­tant di­rec­tor and Prayas mem­ber Sananda Chat­ter­jee.

The group was con­tacted by the coun­cil and asked if they would like to get in­volved.

The Band of Wesley has come up with sev­eral origi- nal songs and key­board player Shane Akaoula, 16, plays one of the lead roles.

The cast have been re­hears­ing six nights a week in the lead-up to open­ing night.

Our Street runs un­til Sun­day at the Auck­land Town Hall’s con­cert cham­ber.

Photo: RE­NEE LIANG

Show suc­cess: Mem­bers of In­dian theatre group Prayas play char­ac­ters in the booked-out show Our Street.

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