31 Jul 2017
Aucklanders will be treated to a feast of diverse culture and music this August when Dominion Rd The Musical hits the stage for its world premiere.
Dominion Rd the Musical is an original Kiwi production, with authentic characters and catchy tunes, that showcases the unique cultural diversity of Auckland. The main fictitious storyline, inspired by true events, centres around Dominion Rd’s business owners and residents fighting local politicians attempting to rebrand it as a ‘Chinatown’.
Writer and co-lyricist Renee Liang (Auckland Arts Festival 2017 Opera The Bone Feeder) explains: “I remember feeling incensed, along with many others, when I first read that ethnographic researchers and Auckland Council were looking at 'upgrading' Dominion Rd's Balmoral precinct to become Auckland's ‘Chinatown’ ”.
“As a Dominion Rd resident, diner and shopper myself, I wondered why would you break a good thing? For so long, Dominion Rd has harboured migrants and their stories from all cultures. Putting in fake signifiers, no matter how glossy or well meant, could change the organic growth of this area and drive all those original businesses away. What better way to argue this point than with a brand new musical?”
The homegrown production will feature a professional cast of 5 as well as over 10 community members, many of whom have either past and/or present ties to Dominion Rd. The professional cast are Jackie Clarke (founding member of The Lady Killers, former NZ Idol judge, Little Shop of Horrors), Marissa Holder (National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts graduate), Mustaq Missouri (Auckland Summer Shakespeare 2017’s As You Like It, Prayas Theatre’s productions of Love n Stuff and Swabhoomi: Borrowed Earth), Brady Peeti (Mirror Mirror, Larger than Life) and Benjamin Teh (The Bone Feeder, The First Asian AB, Bubblelands).
The community cast took part in a workshop in July 2016 where they shared their stories, languages and histories and created characters inspired by these elements. The production team have also engaged with local businesses, and Liang listened to oral histories from Auckland Libraries’ collection to inspire her writing.
“Borni [Te Rongopai Tukiwaho] was a natural choice to direct,” says Liang.
Tukiwaho (2017 Auckland Pride Festival Gala, 2016 People Like Us, Atawhai Festival) is a co-founding whanau member of Auckland’s Te Pou Theatre and creator of several festivals working with marginalised groups in the community.
“As a broker between community and the performing arts landscapes, it’s imperative to give people from all sectors of the community a voice to tell their unique stories,” he says.
Composer and co-lyricist Jun Bin Lee (Ai the Musical, Karaoke Heaven) who is working on this modern musical with Musical Director Lavina Williams (Dream Girls (France) and lead role Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray) says: “The original songs are inspired by a variety of genres including Disney, Hip Hop, Gospel, Mandarin Pop, peppered with languages that represent the Dominion Rd precinct. We will be using various traditional musical instruments such as Er hu, Gu zheng, Sitar and Tabla to represent and enrich these multi-ethnic characters.”
In addition the creative team is equally diverse to represent Dominion Rd’s melting pot of diverse cultures.
Creative Producer Sharu Delilkan (Sharu Loves Hats) says: “We’re proud that our creative team also mirrors Dominon Rd’s demographic, which in turn is an apt representation of the cultural mix that gives Tāmaki Makaurau its unique flavour.”
Sharu Loves Hats received $70,000 towards the production of Dominion Road the Musical from the Auckland Diversity Fund. The fund is the result of a partnership between Creative New Zealand and Foundation North to support projects by arts organisations that engage with Māori, Pacific and Asian communities in the region.