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Remembering Maureen

Give them a laugh, a smile on the way out and you've done something,” Centre Stage founder, the late Maureen Potroz once told The Gisborne Herald.

Maureen left them with a smile, a laugh, and sadness when she passed away on December 23, 2017 and now a memorial concert is to be staged in her memory.

Local singers, dancers, musicians and comics will present an afternoon of entertainment compered by Treva Rice.

“It's good to able to honour her for what she has given us,” says actor/singer Andrew Stevens who joined Centre Stage at an early age.

“I was five or six and bopping around and singing in the choruses. I didn't get a part until I was old enough. I enjoyed singing mostly.”

Stevens has since performed in many of Maureen's productions.

After her arrival in Gisborne in the mid-1970s, she penned about 17 musical comedies, a couple of pantomimes and staged some variety shows.

Centre Stage's first production was a musical called That's Western.

“We got a horse and gig onstage for the show,” Maureen told the Herald in 2014.

“We put covers on its hooves so it wouldn't make a noise when it came on stage. I was doing things Gisborne companies hadn't done before. I don't know if Gisborne was ready for me back then.”

Show titles since then included The School of Fine Farts, Much Ado About Something, and the Countess Of The Caribbean. The last musical she wrote and produced for Centre Stage was called Go West, Young Man.

Maureen's life in performance began with her debut in a Dunedin Opera Company production of Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman.

She worked her way up from the back row of the chorus to leading lady and later sang with the New Zealand Opera Company.

Moving to Gisborne was a culture shock for the coloratura soprano but she joined the Operatic Society and starred in the musical Kiss Me Kate.

“I thought ‘if I want to do what I want to do, I'd have to set up my own theatre',” she said.

“ I said to my husband ‘let's see what happens'.”

The Maureen Potroz Memorial Concert, Gisborne Musical Theatre, Innes Street. Sunday, February 2, 2pm, Tickets $20. To book call Maree 022 635 1173, Liz 027 282 3310 or Cilla 027 698 2850.

TAKING CENTRE STAGE: A memorial concert is to be held in honour of Centre Stage founder, and musical comedy and pantomime writer/producer, the late Maureen Potroz. File picture