It’s all about the per­for­mance . . .

The Toko­roa Lit­tle Theatre started off in a lit­tle shed and had many come through its doors. Caitlin Wal­lace talks to two long­stand­ing mem­bers who have been through it all.

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO -

Ev­ery mo­ment on stage is mem­o­rable for Sharn Allen-Jones, but her mar­riage has to be the best.

Through the dry ice and in her ‘‘ white fluffy meringue’’ dress, Sharn walked down a makeshift aisle in Toko­roa Lit­tle Theatre to Led Zep­pelin’s Stair­way to Heaven. 23 years ago.

Why? you may ask . . . ‘‘A wed­ding is an act,’’ she laughed.

Sharn, a florist at the time, chose ‘‘ any­thing pink’’ for her flow­ers, and walked through egyptian pil­lars to­wards hus­bandto-be Craig.

Peo­ple were as­ton­ished, she said. She ‘‘copped some flack’’ but it was bet­ter than sit­ting in a church.

The ‘‘ big fat gypsy’’ style wed­ding catered to about 125 peo­ple crammed into the 80-seat Toko­roa Lit­tle Theatre on Manaia St.

It was a show in it­self, and it was ex­actly how she wanted it.

So it is no won­der the bub­bly, con­fi­dent 45-year old mother of three is ea­ger to step into the spot­light.

Be­sides her wed­ding, there have been some mo­ments on stage.

‘‘ It was called Out­side Edge about a cricket game and I was play­ing darts, I got the dart up the bulls­eye’s bum, and I got it again then the third one smashed them all off, it was like ‘oh my god’ and the whole crowd cheered.’’

There have been many roles Sharn has stepped into dur­ing her 20-years at the theatre.

She has be­come at­tached to

stand- out most and likened the end of a show to los­ing a loved one.

‘‘At the end of the show you usu­ally go pick up your cos­tume but then when its fin­ished you dont, it’s quite sad . . . You do take on the char­ac­ter.’’

The whole theatre it­self is some­thing to be cher­ished, says Sharn. ‘‘ Toko­roa should be proud of it, it should never have a closed sign out the front like th­ese other lit­tle gems around New Zealand.’’

One to share her pas­sion is her pres­i­dent John ten Velde.

As a vet­eran in the theatre world, he has seen it all on and off stage.

And ev­ery role comes with a chal­lenge – es­pe­cially when things don’t go to plan, he said.

‘‘ Things can go wrong and things do wrong . . . all of sud­den the lines you are de­liv­er­ing are seen dif­fer­ently, they [au­di­ence] tend to laugh in dif­fer­ent places, I ended up get­ting the gig­gles once and I was sit­ting on the couch with a blan­ket so I held it up, I had to get off be­fore they saw it shak­ing.’’

There’s an art to cov­er­ing up mishaps, John said.

‘‘Half the lights went off and peo­ple thought that was just part of the show.’’

Even when the theatre was in the mid­dle of a re-build be­cause of a lo­ca­tion change, the show still went on.

Pro­duc­tions took place at Tainui Full Pri­mary School, a church and even a ‘‘who­dun­nit’’ in the Toko­roa Court House.

No mat­ter the cir­cum­stances, it was all about the ‘‘chal­lenge’’ of putting to­gether a pro­duc­tion. John was even dragged across the stage in just his un­der­wear, act­ing as a dead per­son.

The pro­duc­tion, Stiff , fea­tured a pros­ti­tute who in­her­ited a fu­neral home.

And his char­ac­ter was not as easy as one may have thought, he said.

‘‘Th­ese pros­ti­tutes had to drag me on stage, and they didn’t know what to do . . . I didn’t know what was hap­pen­ing, I had hot wa­ter and cold wa­ter splashed on me and all sorts.’’

But that chal­lenge is the best part of be­ing in theatre, John said.

A true drama king at heart, it is all about the per­for­mances for John.

‘‘It’s like go­ing to the movies but it’s 3D, you are telling a story and they are fol­low­ing it, you are be­ing taken on jour­ney.’’

CRE­ATIVE MINDS: Toko­roa Lit­tle Theatre mem­bers have con­tin­ued to put on a show for over 60 years.

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