A production blessed with talent, and good fun

The opening night audience loved it.

The opening night audience loved it.

PUT THAT BLEEDIN’ LIGHT OUT: Journey back in time as Musical Theatre Gisborne musically salutes Anzac weekend with songs from World War 1 and World War 2.

GOOD fun, strung with irony and a healthy wallop of absurdity runs through Musical Theatre Gisborne’s war-time music hall-based production Bless ‘em All.

And the opening night audience loved it.

Staged in the MTG clubrooms, the ambience of the raftered and timber floored setting has the whiff of the war-time community hall, but in a good way.

The venue makes for an intimate, atmospheric setting.

Footlights and follow-spot enhance the sense of period. Performers clearly had fun and that was contagious.

Cast as compere, Fraser Grout mixed historical detail with terrible (but hilarious) jokes, underlined by musician Amanda Maclean’s drum thump and cymbal clash.

As a show of two halves, Bless ‘em All opens with World War 1 songs performed by a big cast of talented male and female vocalists.

A jingoistic poem about joining the war effort to preserve the British Empire, published in The Poverty Bay Herald, is followed by rollicking songs that celebrate the men as they go off to do their bit.

The show has its moments of sauciness. Director Dorothy Fletcher sang I’ll Make A Man Of You in which the singer has her own recruitment scheme.

Fletcher keeps the show’s pace lively with quick changes of mood such as the song of longing, Danny Boy, performed to a hushed house by young singer Rosie West.

Wry humour is a constant thread in songs performed by soldiers in battle fields such as Gallipoli.

The second half takes on a less rambunctious rhythm but the poignancy of the music is still laced with a sense of absurdity.

A BBC “radio play” is a good fit but this was the only moment in which the pace lagged a little.

Musicians Trish Tattle, Amanda Maclean, Joy Ashwell and Dave Newsham deserve special mention.

Tucked away beside the stage they provided fantastic accompaniment to the performers and Ashwell’s solo rendition of Whispering Grass was skin-tingling.

If there are any rough edges in this show, it hardly matters. Bless ‘em All is all about people entertaining other people.

It is good fun and finishes well before curfew.


GOOD fun, strung with irony and a healthy wallop of absurdity runs through Musical Theatre Gisborne’s war-time music hall-based production Bless ‘em All.

And the opening night audience loved it.

Staged in the MTG clubrooms, the ambience of the raftered and timber floored setting has the whiff of the war-time community hall, but in a good way.

The venue makes for an intimate, atmospheric setting.

Footlights and follow-spot enhance the sense of period. Performers clearly had fun and that was contagious.

Cast as compere, Fraser Grout mixed historical detail with terrible (but hilarious) jokes, underlined by musician Amanda Maclean’s drum thump and cymbal clash.

As a show of two halves, Bless ‘em All opens with World War 1 songs performed by a big cast of talented male and female vocalists.

A jingoistic poem about joining the war effort to preserve the British Empire, published in The Poverty Bay Herald, is followed by rollicking songs that celebrate the men as they go off to do their bit.

The show has its moments of sauciness. Director Dorothy Fletcher sang I’ll Make A Man Of You in which the singer has her own recruitment scheme.

Fletcher keeps the show’s pace lively with quick changes of mood such as the song of longing, Danny Boy, performed to a hushed house by young singer Rosie West.

Wry humour is a constant thread in songs performed by soldiers in battle fields such as Gallipoli.

The second half takes on a less rambunctious rhythm but the poignancy of the music is still laced with a sense of absurdity.

A BBC “radio play” is a good fit but this was the only moment in which the pace lagged a little.

Musicians Trish Tattle, Amanda Maclean, Joy Ashwell and Dave Newsham deserve special mention.

Tucked away beside the stage they provided fantastic accompaniment to the performers and Ashwell’s solo rendition of Whispering Grass was skin-tingling.

If there are any rough edges in this show, it hardly matters. Bless ‘em All is all about people entertaining other people.

It is good fun and finishes well before curfew.


Bless ‘em All is being staged at the MTG clubrooms in Innes Street from April 19-23. Tickets are available from Stephen Jones Photography.

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