Immigrant story told in 'heart-warming' show

Maggie (Rowena Simpson, of Wellington) and Johnnie (Stuart Coats, also of Wellington) star as Scottish immigrants to New Zealand whose lives are affected by World War 1 in the musical theatre piece Home, coming to Arrowtown and Oamaru late this month. Photo supplied.
Maggie (Rowena Simpson, of Wellington) and Johnnie (Stuart Coats, also of Wellington) star as Scottish immigrants to New Zealand whose lives are affected by World War 1 in the musical theatre piece Home, coming to Arrowtown and Oamaru late this month. Photo supplied.
One of the actors in musical theatre production Home need only think back to his own family history to channel the gamut of emotions felt by historical immigrants to New Zealand.

Stuart Coats stars opposite fellow Wellington thespian Rowena Simpson in the poignant new dramatisation supported by Arts on Tour New Zealand and on the road to the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall, on November 23, and Inkbox Theatre, Oamaru, on November 24.

In Dunedin next year, the Coats family will celebrate the 150th anniversary of their ancestors' arrival at Port Chalmers.

Home features Maggie (soprano Simpson) and Johnnie (baritone Coats) as two Scottish immigrants to New Zealand who meet and marry just before World War 1.

Home is a family affair as dialogue is blended with traditional songs from a book bought by Simpson's great-great-grandmother in Invercargill in the 1890s. The show is also written and directed by Coats' award-winning sister Jacqueline Coats.

Critics describe Home as a "heart-warming production with a beautiful, elegant simplicity", while the two performers are praised for "portraying the emotional highs and lows of the characters and singing majestically".

• Tickets for the Arrowtown show cost $20 from the Lakes District Museum and on the door of the Athenaeum Hall.