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.
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.