Written on March 28, 2017

Patron: Donna Philpott, QSM

Affectionately known to all as Dame Donna, she was involved with Wellington Musical Theatre for 40 years, retiring in 2003. Her main role had been as production manager for the last 18 years, overseeing and organising rights, auditions, personnel and all of the other tasks associated with getting "a show on the road".

Instrumental in forming the Musical Theatre Consortium that negotiated the rights to bring Les Mis to NZ the first time in 1994, she then went onto gain the performing rights for 42nd Street in 1995. Donna is firmly committed to musical theatre throughout NZ and was the MTNZ Zone Three representative for 23 years. She was honored with Life Membership of MTNZ in 2008 and the MTNZ highest honor - Patron.

Life Members:

Donna Philpott QSM, Tim Blennerhassett, Jim Fenton QSO, Sandra Sewell, John MacGibbon, Kevin Murphy, Markham Lee, Graeme Philip, Diane Philip, Ian Reid, Ngaire Holmes.

President: Lesley Carthew

Lesley first became involved in musical theatre in 1962 in Timaru, where she performed in numerous shows, both in the Operatic and Repertory branches of the South Canterbury Drama League.

She became involved with Napier Operatic Society in the early 1980s working in the kitchen and front of house areas at the Tabard, and assisting with dressing for 'Annie' when her daughter was in the cast. She has performed on stage in numerous productions for NOS, including both productions of Les Miserables, Chess, My Fair Lady, and many of their Tabard Theatre Productions. She has been Production Manager a number of times, and worked in most areas back stage.

She spent four years as an Executive member of the Society, four years as Vice-president, and then six years as President, retiring at the end of March 2006 and was made a Life Member of the Society in 2010. During her time on the Executive of NOS, she was the Society's representative on the Consortium Committee, which was an invaluable experience, and a vehicle which is imperative if societies in this country are going to continue to produce big budget shows.

Lesley, in her life outside theatre is an Advisor Assistant in the Financial Services industry, and has spent a lifetime working in the banking and sharebroking industry. Lesley still maintains her interest in Musical Theatre outside MTNZ, she is the current Treasurer of Napier Operatic Society, and she chaired the Mamma Mia Consortium. Lesley sings in the St John's Cathedral Choir, and has recently started singing lessons again for her own personal development. Now in her third year as President of MTNZ, and loving all the challenges the role presents.

Vice President: Daniel Pepperell

Daniel first tread the boards at five years of age for a school production about something he can't remember, and since then has had a passion for musical theatre. His first show outside of school was The Music Man at Riverlea Theatre for Musikmakers in which his Mum played one of the lead roles, he was seve at the time. As Daniel got older his musical theatre hobby slowly started taking over any spare time he had, sometimes doing five shows a year. Daniel then dabbled in film, television and concerts. He calls himself a true student of amateur theatre, as everything he has learnt about theatre has come from the societies around the Waikato and BOP that he has been involved with.

Daniel has been involved in nearly every job in a theatre, although his favourite has always been performing onstage. In the past seven years Daniel has been directing for local societies which he enjoys as it is a way to pass on knowledge he has learnt to others. Daniel had been the Vice President for Tauranga Musical Theatre for a number of years, and previous to that, a board member, but has stood down to concentrate on the VP role for MTNZ. Since joining MTNZ three years ago as the Youth Rep, he has seen the incredible work MTNZ does, and the massive potential that it has as an organisation.

In Daniel's professional life he is the owner of two construction companies which cover the Waikato/BOP and nationally respectively. If he could pass on one small piece of advice it would be to continue to learn. "You are never too old to learn anything from anyone at any age"

General Manager: Kate Ghent

Kate's debut on a stage was in 1969 when she starred in a ballet panto as a tree. She was involved with most theatrical societies in the Wairarapa in the early years (from setting tables for MATS theatre restaurants to playing Witch 2 in that Scottish play), then moved to Wellington where her first role was as the vamp Sonia in Wellington Rep's Godspell in 1985.

After a three year stint overseas, she returned to NZ and became actively involved with Wellington societies as a performer, committee member, director (Joseph, Chicago, Godspell, Chess to name a few) and editor of numerous theatre newsletters. Unfortunately composers of shows don't write roles for "leading altos" so Kate has predominantly appeared onstage in shows requiring a female of ill-repute (assorted vamps, prostitutes, murderesses, witches), normally dressed in minimal attire. Greatest claim to fame was playing the nude Japanese prostitute in Ken Russell's Madam Butterfly for the 1994 Festival of the Arts - dress rehearsal took on a whole new meaning, especially when the MFC auditorium was packed full of college students.

Over the last 15 years, Kate has tended to be involved more with the backstage area from production management, crew, dressing, props, front of house - in fact all areas of the theatre that don't involve climbing up a ladder or electricity and wires. She has also been predominantly working on the marketing side for numerous productions, with the highlight being Ladies' Night when she got the lads in their g-strings, in full colour on the front page of the Evening Post!!!!

In her corporate career Kate has worked for companies such as Lion Breweries, Saatchis, Castrol, Lotteries, NZRU, RNZ2011 (Rugby World Cup) and the recent Cricket World Cup in Administrator and event roles. Kate still continues to be involved with musical theatre outside MTNZ was the consortium coordinator for Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon and Hairspray. Kate was contracted to Amici Productions as Project Manager working on the consortium project Mamma Mia! which opened in March 2014 at the Civic in Auckland. Kate was recently in the ensemble of Evita which was staged at the Wellington Opera House in November 2015 and is appearing onstage again in Voices from the Front at Hannah Playhouse (Downstage) in April 2017.

Zone One Representative: Emma Bishop

Emma was pretty much born into theatre as her mother was rehearsing a show whilst she was pregnant.

Emma spent the first 19 years as an active member of both Opera Otago and Dunedin Operatic, with highlights being performing in the 1994 Consortium of Les Mis and 1995 Merry Widow with Dame Malvina Major.

Emma attended Otago University as a voice student of Honor McKellar but relocated to Nelson to attend performing arts school as it became apparent that musical theatre was her number one passion.

She moved to Auckland in 1998 following a stint as Columbia in Rocky Horror for the Nelson Arts Festival.

Emma trained as a performing arts teacher specialising in Music but then went on to complete her Masters in Dance Education.

Emma has spent the last 15years as a full time educatior and is currently the President of Drama NZ, the Natioanl Subject Association for Drama in Education.

Emma has been a member of a number of Zone One socieities including PLOC, PTC, MPA, HARLEQUIN and AMT where she has been on the Executive committee for 6years having just been the Chairperson for the last three. She was the Consortium Rep for AMT/AMICI on EVITA and MAMMA MIA.

Emma has a vast experience in all facets of theatre including performing, directing, choreography, musical direction, vocal coaching, Lighting design, set design, costume design, and marketing having received a total of 27 nominations for AMI now iTicket Showdown awards including winning Best Costumes three times, best Lighting, best sound, best set and best direction. Emma has also recieved two NAPTA nominations for Costume design.

Emma's passion for Musical Theatre and its importance in education has seen her appointed as the National Co-ordinator for The AMICI Trusts Junior Theatre NZ, which promotes and develops the use of Junior theatre and the Broadway Junior product in NZ.

Emma is currently freelancing - working on such projects as Producing and Directing Ugly Shakespeare, producing the first every Junior Theatre Celebration Day and Associate Producing events for the Auckland City Council.

Zone Two Representative: Tracy Holmes

Tracy was born in Tuatapere Southland in 1975, Tracy grew up in Southland both in Tuatapere and Otautau as much as she would have liked to be involved with theatre as a child she was unable due to being very ill and spending most of her childhood in and out of Southland and Dunedin Hospital, Tracy had 2 liver transplants in 1986. She does have great recollections of seeing her Mum Ngaire on stage and has particularly good memories seeing both her Mum and Sister Shelley on stage in Oliver in 1985, so it was quite ironic that her first show was Oliver.

Tracy first got involved in theatre officially in 1999 where she was in the chorus for Oliver for Musikmakers Hamilton. Unofficially she was on stage as a hedgehog with a yellow polka dot bow tie at high school at Logan Park High School in Dunedin. Since her first show for Musikmakers she has been involved both on and off stage for many shows as Production Manager, Production Secretary, Props and Wardrobe helper and multiple other tasks wherever she was asked or required. Tracy was also Secretary for the Riverlea Theatre Board for a number of years.

Tracy’s first taste of MTNZ was at the Ashburton Conference in 2005 where she was dressed as Gretl as one of the Von Trapp Family singers! She has not missed a conference since. She has been the Zone 2 Administrator for the past 8 years, during this time she has learnt a lot about how MTNZ works and has worked with her Mum Ngaire to grow and progress Zone 2 to the remarkable Zone that it is today.

Zone Three Representative: Sharron Pardoe

Sharron has been involved with the theatre since she was a tot. She has vivid memories of seeing her mother perform on the Wairoa Gaiety Theatre stage in shows such as Rosemarie and playing among the clothes in the Showboat wardrobe over the Wairoa River. As a student in Wellington she performed with BATs theatre company and several years after moving to Napier found herself in Napier Operatic Society's Mack and Mabel - her first introduction to performing in musical theatre - and was hooked. "My mother had an amazing voice but at that stage I could barely hold a tune." So she had some lessons over the years, enough to win a few small roles and places in the chorus and hasn't looked back.

Lately Sharron has been more involved in the production side of theatre. After various roles in several of Napier Operatic's sub committees, she served on the society's executive for six years, and from 2010 to 2012 was president. Sharron is now based in Wellington as a senior Sub-Editor for Fairfax Media working on Australian newspapers.

She has two daughters, the eldest studying a BA in Performance Management at Toi Whakaari, and the youngest at the College of the Arts at Massey in Wellington studying photography and design. She has been married to Steve since 1984 who, although not active in theatre, supports her in her endeavours. She is enjoying the challenge of getting to know and representing all the hard working and talented companies within the Zone Three area.

Zone Four Representative: Ross Benbow

Born in Takaka, Golden Bay, Ross' family came from South Canterbury and his Mum sang in the Anglican Church Choir in Ashburton and his Dad played in the brass band in Temuka. Both Ross' parents became involved with the Takaka Drama Society and the Motueka Dramatic Society when they lived in Motueka. Ross moved to Nelson when he was eight and was involved with church pageants etc.

The first show he remembers seeing was The Tinder Box produced by Nelson Repertory in the 1950's. His next memorable show was the Scots College (Wellington) production of Ruddigore in 1960 - it made him want to get involved in theatre, which he then did the very next year in Nelson's Oklahoma. His first show was in 1965 with Nelson Operatic and he has been involved ever since.

Ross has done everything from chorus to spotlight operator, painting sets, hanging lights to meeting his wife Pam in Fiddler on the Roof where they played opposite each other as Hodel and Perchek. For his sins, he has also been production manager for many shows. A little bit of directing has come his way and he has also been on the Nelson Musical Theatre Executive for a number of years including President, Vice President, Secretary and has also been made a life member.

Ross says he enjoys the theatre life and although it can be frustrating at times, it is always interesting. In his other life he is a real estate salesperson in Nelson.

Zone Five Representative: Helen Horsnell

Helen's involvement in musical theatre began in high school and the passion has continued over the next 30 years.

Soon realising that she didn't have star quality the lure of off stage has seen her working in most facets of musical theatre. A committee member with Waimate theatre company for 16 years gave her a great insight into the running of productions and the opportunity to train as a director.

Moving to Dunedin 11 years ago she became a member of Dunedin Operatic and continued to direct some of their theatre restaurants. Backstage work has seen her move into Stage management, her favourite shows being, 42nd Street, Les Miserable's, and Beauty and the Beast.

Helen has worked on archiving for Waimate Theatre company's 25th celebrations, and Dunedin Operatic's 75th by completing over 125 photo boards and feels strongly about keeping records for the next generation.

Married to Brian (yes he does get involved occasionally) they have three grown children and last year a highlight was directing a show with her daughter Julia as Musical Director and son Karl as Stage manager. In 2013 Helen and Brian took over the management of The New Zealand Play Bureau, so Helen's hobby has now become a full time job.

NextGen Representative: James Wright

In the scheme of life, musical theatre is relatively new to James. He joined Napier Operatic Society in 2012 when his brother was asked to audition for 'Chicago'. Being the competitive person that he is, he decided he could do it as well! And so he did. Since then he has caught what we all know as the musical theatre "bug".

Although having never sung in front of an audience, danced in a serious manner or acted out anything other than the odd "sickie" in high school, James took the chance and ran with it. Now, he can safely say he would never look back.

James went on to involve himself in shows such as 'Hairspray' where he played Link Larkin not only in Napier but in New Plymouth as well, 'Mamma Mia', where he played Eddie, 'The Addams Family', where he played Lucas, 'Jesus Christ superstar', where he understudied the role of Judas and was given 5 performances, and most recently 'Mary Poppins', where he played his most challenging yet exciting role to date - Bert!

James has also been in the ensemble for numerous other shows including 'Phantom of the Opera' and 'Evita'.

James also found his feet backstage as well. You might catch him pushing trucks as part of the stage crew, stage directing the youth theatre shows, running the sound and microphone desk or even helping out in the kitchen for Napier Operatic's dinner theatre.

This year, he is looking to his most challenging role yet, and that is to direct Beauty and the Beast for the youth theatre.

James is looking forward to his role as NextGen representative, because he wants to show people that you can grow and build your skills within your own societies because these are skills that you can not only use at the theatre, but skills you can take away and use for life. His goal is to encourage the youth to follow the same path that he did, because our 'Next-genners' are exactly that; The next generation.

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