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Keeping musical theatre alive

An opportunity for aspiring and established singers and dancers too good to be missed is coming to Gisborne tomorrow and Saturday.

Dance man Dean McKerras will be running a musical theatre workshop for people to hone their singing or dancing skills, and it is open to all levels.

McKerras' name will be known to those familiar with musical theatre, as he directed and choreographed Musical Theatre Gisborne's Mamma Mia production three years ago, and he has another project under wraps for Gisborne in early 2023.

“I'm looking forward to coming back and working with the community once again,” he said recently during a break from teaching.

McKerras runs Red Star Dance Studio in Palmerston North, and directs and choreographs shows around New Zealand. He was scheduled to direct Annie in Gisborne, but sadly Covid put an end to that.

“The idea of the workshops is to support the local musical theatre society, and part of the income goes back to the local society,” he said.

“It is about keeping musical theatre alive. It is a great opportunity for people who do these shows without the pressure of opening night.”

Each workshop is based around a big show, such as Chicago, Wicked, Matilda, Les Miserables.

“I will be working with individual numbers and exploring the choreography that goes with them — choreography that is more dance orientated, or the musical ‘staging', which is really just about changing positions on stage. I'm not putting people off if they are not dancers.”

He has worked extensively with dancers in musical theatre, and said that musical theatre societies don't tend to run these kinds of workshops often.

“It is a neat opportunity for locals to explore and develop their craft,” he said.

“They have brought me in and it's a nice opportunity to touch base with the people I've worked with in Gisborne, and also to let them know I'm doing another show next year so they can come and work with me without committing to a show.

“My favourite thing is to get people together and see what we can do as a community,” he said.

“People are always so surprised at how much of a fun thing it is to do.”

The Staged programme will be held at the Musical Theatre clubrooms, 101 Innes Street, tomorrow. The schedule is as follows — Tomorrow: 5.30-7.30pm, Matilda (8-14 yrs) 7.45pm-9.45pm, Chicago (adults) Saturday: 10am-12pm, Les Miserables (adults) 1-3pm, mix of musicals (8-14 yrs) 3.15-5.15pm, Wicked (adults) For more information phone 027 285 0284

DANCE MAN: Dean McKerras is bursting into Gisborne with his informative and fun musical theatre workshops for all skill levels. Picture supplied