Wanaka stars shine tonight
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.
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.