By PHILIP CHANDLER
TEN years of original Wakatipu rock and roll musicals are being celebrated in a ‘best of’ show in Arrowtown next month.
Resort impresario Margaret O’Hanlon’s Whirlwind Productions NZ has produced eight of
these shows, premiering with a tribute to David Bowie — Rock and Roll Suicide — in 2010.
The Queenstowner’s also self-penned most of them, though last year’s show, Radio Kaos, was co-devised with Arrowtowner Charlotte Graf.
Celebrating 10 Years of Rock ‘N’ Roll Theatre — running in the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall
from November 5 to 7 — is Graf’s brainchild.
O’Hanlon: ‘‘I was happily turning into a hobbit, growing roses, and she said to me, ‘it’s been 10 years since we started Whirlwind, and we don’t have a production this year’.
‘‘‘Let’s do a 10-year anniversary thing’.’’
O’Hanlon says, fortunately, most of the talent from her shows — including Thomas Brinsley
and Jazzmin Pearse, who starred in her songwriting show, Songstars — is still around.
This includes, for example, the five women she handpicked for The Chain in 2017 — Graf,
Tiffany Mitchell, Rebeca Barnes, Lisa Clough and Fee Stephenson.
‘‘That’s going to be fun — they’re five friends who go through turns of their life while
trying to put together a Stevie Nicks tribute band.’’
O’Hanlon’s also delighted how well her cast of about 27 remember their gigs.
‘‘You’re just working with wonderful people who already know what they’re doing — it just means everything flows a lot better.’’
She’s also thrilled the shows helped launch careers for the likes of Josh Mehrtens, Max
Gunn and Sam Maxwell.
Rock band Mild Orange’s Mehrtens, she recalls, wrote an original song for the 2013 show,
27, based on musos who died at that age.
She believes next month’s show will be very apropos for the time we’re living in.
‘‘We’re all realising and understanding, when you come right down to it, it’s all about your
community, and you can’t lose that.’’
Tickets for the three shows are for sale via Eventbrite — the last show will also be livestreamed.