Avenue Q draws NASDA talent
Performing arts graduates from CPIT were at the top of the list for consideration when Lara McGregor, the Fortune Theatre’s new Artistic Director, cast New Zealand’s first local production of the Broadway hit musical Avenue Q.
The show, running from 19 August to 17 September, is almost entirely performed by graduates of CPIT’s National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA). Described as “Sesame Street for adults” Avenue Q combines people, puppets and music and tackles themes such as binge drinking, being gay and finding your purpose in life.
“Having worked as Associate Artistic Director at The Court Theatre I had had the privilege of working with many graduates over the years from NASDA,” Lara said.
“With any musical, you need the obvious – dynamic voices, strong acting chops and the ability to move well. In addition to those givens you’re also looking to cast a group of people that you know will work closely and considerately together for the length of their contract.
“All the NASDA graduates involved with this production are not just talented performers with a strong professional ethos but they are lovely people who are a pleasure to be around for any length of time.”
In addition to their skills and qualities, Lara said that NASDA graduates presented themselves incredibly well in auditions. “They’re well prepared, open to direction and quite obviously passionate about working in the theatre. Without exception all the actors who auditioned for me from NASDA presented themselves with the utmost professionalism.”
Directed by Shane Anthony with puppets custom made by Julian Southgate, Avenue Q also features another enthusiastic NASDA graduate, Musical Director Michael Lee Porter. “As soon as I heard the Fortune Theatre had programmed Avenue Q, I knew I had to be involved,” he said. “I saw the show in New York, twice in Australia, and absolutely loved it! This is a big move for the Fortune to be attempting a musical of this scale. It’s a coup!”
The cast of Avenue Q for the Fortune Theatre, Dunedin, production are: Cassie Baker, Kathleen Burns, Kyle Chuen, Cameron Douglas, Rob Enari, Kelly Hocking and Jonathan Martin.