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Techicolour production fills pockets, warms hearts

By Katherine Armon

Meadowlands Methodist Community Church in Auckland was the setting for an unusual production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last month.

Brainchild of director Kate Morrison, the production saw humans and puppets interacting on stage together. Kate says the idea for producing the show came to her one morning in church.

“I was listening to our minister explain the alarming state of our church finances, which I suspect is a recurring theme within a lot of churches, and I wanted to do something to help”.

Kate has a background in theatre studies and trained as an actress in London.

“I knew fundraising for our church would be difficult. I decided to stick to something I know, and I thought producing a show would be fun. I choose Joseph because it is so well known and I knew it would pull a crowd,” she says.

This was no ordinary production of the classic show, however. Kate’s vision called for some unusual help.

James Reddy as Joseph with the Trinity Puppeteers
“Meadowlands Church and Trinity Methodist Church are home to the wonderfully talented Trinity Puppeteers, a group of people who travel around New Zealand and overseas to take their Christian message to children and adults.

“I wanted to combine their talents with a human cast to bring a whole new slant to the show. I cast an 8ft tall puppet with remote control facial expressions in the role of Pharaoh. Five of the 12 brothers were also puppets, and we had puppet sheep, camels and a goat,” laughs Kate

One of the biggest challenges she faced was the huge cast needed for the production. It soon became apparent they would have to go outside of their own church to look for cast members.

“After advertising in the local press and church notice boards, we held auditions. Between our church, the general public, some other churches, and our puppets we cast our show.”

Kate and her cast rehearsed for three months and performed over six nights to capacity audiences. More than 750 people attended.

“My dream of fundraising was realized. Initial estimates suggest we made $8000 profit from the show” says a beaming Kate. “As wonderful as this was, we had achieved something far more amazing than the money. This was the outreach to our local community, new friendships, renewal of old friendships and the sense of achievement watching our congregation and our new friends pull together to make the show a success.”

Plans for next year’s production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens are already underway.