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Source: Te Pukenga

The ‘show within a show’ story takes a comedic journey through 1920’s musical theatre as show fanatic ‘Man in Chair’ listens to records of classic musicals and provides hilarious commentary, and musings about his personal life along the way.
Audiences are transported from a dingy apartment to a flashy Broadway show as the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, comes to life – featuring a show diva, an oil tycoon, an ill-fated wedding, bumbling gangsters in disguise and a tipsy chaperone, as well as plenty of plot twists and turns.
Opening on Friday 29th October the show season runs until Saturday 6th November, featuring a cast of talented Bachelor of Performing Arts students from Ara Institute of Canterbury.
This incredible opportunity is part of a three-year partnership between Ara Institute of Canterbury and the Court Theatre, which is currently in its second year.
“It’s something all the students want to do, to be on stage at The Court,” says Andrew Snell, Manager of Performing Arts at Ara. “This is a chance to do that in a safe, controlled way, rather than to jump straight into a professional show.”
Emma West, Manager of Marketing and Engagement at Ara says, “This partnership is an opportune arrangement for two creative powerhouses in Canterbury to collaborate on mahi which positively influences both organisations and the wider community. The Court is the region’s premier theatre company and Ara is a fountain of up-and-coming talent in music, theatre, design and fashion, with one of the country’s leading performing arts schools.”
Dan Pengelly, Artistic Director at the Court Theatre, whose an Ara graduate himself, says the partnership is about helping Ara graduates transition into the creative industries.
“This partnership creates a bridge for students to come out of education and into employment, as our next generation of creative artists.”
“Ara and NASDA students bring fresh energy and new perspectives into our business and we appreciate the opportunity to also be the learner,” says Pengelly, referencing information sharing and also the cultural capability and professional development workshops which Court Theatre staff have the access to through Ara.
Snell also describes it as a mutually beneficial relationship. “For NASDA the partnership involves two key parts: We stage our show in their theatre, and our students are available to be cast in a Court Theatre show. This year fifteen of our students had the joy of performing in The Court’s production of Frankenstein.”
One such student was Nicole Brebner, who has been alternating evenings performing in Frankenstein with daytime NASDA rehearsals for her role as lead character ‘The Chaperone’. For Brebner this will be her second time on The Court’s stage this year.
“I’ve loved getting to know everyone at The Court- the creative team, staff behind the scenes. Also being in a bigger space than I’ve ever performed in for a show is amazing. The atmosphere is so good in the theatre – it feels intimate, while also feeling like you’re sharing the story with a lot of people”
“I’m feeling extremely grateful for these opportunities, considering how many performers in the industry can’t perform at the moment,” she says.
The role of The Chaperone is double cast, and classmate Zoe Dornbusch can’t wait to debut the character to audiences.
“Because the story is set during prohibition, ‘drowsy’ is code for her being tipsy a lot of the time. It’s a very fun role to play, very different from my actual person,” she says.
“The relatability of the storylines and the characters is quite hilarious, it kind of brings a tragic situation into a funny, comedic musical and I think that’s what people want at the moment, something that’s not too emotionally draining on the heart.”