Stars hit the stage at Papakaio fundraiser

Barbara O'Brien, as Geri Halliwell, strikes a pose before she performs at Papakaio Stars in Your...
Barbara O'Brien, as Geri Halliwell, strikes a pose before she performs at Papakaio Stars in Your Eyes on Saturday. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
From classical piano to lighting up the stage as one of the Spice Girls, music and performance is Barbara O'Brien's happy place.

That was on show at this year's Papakaio Stars in Your Eyes, held at the Papakaio Community Hall inland from Oamaru on Friday and Saturday night.

Based on the popular British television show Stars in Their Eyes, the show has a captivated audience watch everyday people take to the stage to perform as one of their musical idols, complete with make-up and flamboyant costumes.

Mrs O'Brien, who has been involved with the event as an organiser and performer since it was first staged five years ago, channelled Geri Halliwell, a solo artist as well as former member of girl-group the Spice Girls.

First on the programme which featured 15 individual and group acts, she belted out It's Raining Men, a personal favourite.

"I've always loved the song and I've always loved doing it on karaoke nights, so I thought `right, let's do it'," Mrs O'Brien said.

A classical pianist, she learned to sing when she lived in Auckland, long before she relocated to North Otago.

However, Stars in Your Eyes has always been at the top of her list in terms of performing.

While she admitted to some pre-show nerves in the make-up room, those emotions were kept in check when the curtains went up.

"It's the music for me ... and just being with like-minded people I guess. Everyone just enjoys it. They're all on the same page. Everything else just disappears when you are doing what you like."

Other performers impersonated included Shirley Bassey, Billie Eilish, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Cher, Olivia Newton-John, Kim Wilde, Pink, Billy Joel and the Village People among others.

Serena O'Brien (Jessie J) was first overall and won the public vote on Friday; Mike and Hamish Mitchell (Willie Nelson and Ray Charles) were second and Georgie McArthy (Billie Eilish) was third.

Ashleigh Nicholson (Cher) won the public vote on Saturday and the Village People (Richard Plunket, Kevin Malcolm, Hayden Williams, Hamish Mitchell and Callum Swann) were named most entertaining.

The event is a fundraiser for the continued maintenance of the hall.

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