Young cast set to take centre stage, at last

Preparing for a rehearsal of Carol Krueger Children's Theatre production of The Famous Five are ...
Preparing for a rehearsal of Carol Krueger Children's Theatre production of The Famous Five are (from left) Evelyn Cochrane (10), Victoria Patu (16), Carol Krueger, and Grace Pedersen (14) at the New Athenaeum Theatre yesterday. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
The show must go on — and so a wartime adaptation of a children’s adventure will hit the stage in Dunedin despite originally being cancelled three months ago.

Four weeks after rehearsals for Carol Krueger Children's Theatre production of The Famous Five began, New Zealand entered Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown and its April opening night was cancelled.

But now the New Athenaeum Theatre in the Octagon is playing host to the final days of preparation for the "fast-moving" Enid Blyton tribute, playwright and producer Carol Krueger said.

"We’ve had huge hurdles — and the big one was called Covid-19," she said.

"With children you have to have months of rehearsal or it doesn’t get together."

Videoconferences were deemed to be untenable and so the actors, some as young as 5, "waited and waited" until Alert Level 2 allowed the players to regroup with rehearsals under social distancing rules.

"Anyway, we got the show together," she said.

"But we had another major obstacle, because we had three people in the cast, like main people, and they couldn’t be in it, because they had compromised immunity."

Enid Blyton's first instalment in her Famous Five series of novels, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942, so the playwright transported the children sleuths to wartime England.

The children in the play are all evacuees from London and arrive in Dorset when an enemy plane crashes into a field and a mystery must be solved.

The children's theatre production of The Famous Five includes Toby, a cast member’s Shih Tzu cross, who is said to be showing a lot of promise as an actor.

Rehearsals wrap up tomorrow and the curtain lifts on Thursday.


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