Wanaka stars shine tonight

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

En­ter­tainer Paul Ta­mati is world-fa­mous in Wanaka for his 18-year com­mit­ment to the an­nual Stars in Your Eyes pro­duc­tion, tak­ing part as a per­former, back­ing singer and vo­cal di­rec­tor.

But for the first time, Ta­mati is di­rect­ing the en­tire she­bang.

The show will open at the Lake Wanaka Cen­tre tonight. The role is part of a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion and he’s rel­ish­ing the chance to di­rect ev­ery­thing from cos­tumes to makeup and stage de­sign.

Wanaka’s Stars in Your Eyes was founded 23 shows ago by the late Dee Sar­gin­son and Jamie Robert­son and Steve Brett, who are still in­volved.

Over the years, at least 200 singers have been nur­tured by the show team, with sev­eral – most no­tably Jody Direen and Bex Mur­ray – mak­ing mu­sic their ca­reer.

‘‘I have heard peo­ple say you are not a lo­cal un­til you have been there. And: ‘How do I get tick­ets?’,’’ Ta­mati said.

Tick­ets for the four-night sea­son sold in a flash, with $3000 worth sell­ing on­line be­tween the hours of mid­night and 8am on Au­gust 11.

Over the years, the pro­duc­tion has gone from a fun pub night run by the per­form­ers and their part­ners to a slick pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion, sup­ported by 50 peo­ple, in­clud­ing ush­ers, stage hands, and other vol­un­teers.

Another change is the in­creased num­ber of lo­cals se­ri­ously com­pet­ing for the priv­i­lege to per­form.

Ev­ery year, up to 30 peo­ple au­di­tion for be­tween 15-18 roles, which are kept top se­cret un­til open­ing night.

‘‘There’s a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket out there and that’s be­cause the town has grown with peo­ple who have seen many shows, and not just the ones in Wanaka,’’ Ta­mati said.

Ta­mati got his start in a Cromwell cul­ture group, Te Roopu O Kawa­rau, which per­formed around the dis­trict and at re­gional kapa haka com­pe­ti­tions.

In those days the Cen­sus recorded Cromwell had some­thing like 112 Maori fam­i­lies in town to work on dam con­struc­tion.

Ta­mati’s fam­ily hailed from Ro­torua and the Te Arawa iwi and while his par­ents have since moved away, he has been happy to call Wanaka home.

Twenty min­utes be­fore the cur­tain goes up tonight, Ta­mati will be giv­ing his team a gen­tle pep talk.

‘‘That’s the most ex­cit­ing part forme be­cause I get to see them in their cos­tumes, I get to share with them their ex­pe­ri­ences through­out the re­hearsals and I get to build them up and give them courage,’’ he said.

But will he be sit­ting back to en­joy the show?

‘‘Gen­er­ally a di­rec­tor would. But I won’t. I can’t help my­self. I amjoin­ing in,’’ he con­firmed.

● Stars in Your Eyes has raised more than $200,000 over the years for lo­cal school mu­sic pro­grammes and will con­tinue to support school mu­sic pro­grammes this year.

Photo: MAR­JORIE COOK/ FAIR­FAX NZ 629917210

Mu­sic for the masses: Stars in Your Eyes di­rec­tor Paul Ta­mati is rel­ish­ing his first turn at the helm of Wanaka’s long­est-run­ning pro­duc­tion.

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