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Hairy Maclary
by Lynley Dodd
Adapted by Tim Bray
Song and character themes by Christine White
Incidental music by Kristie Addison
Tim Bray Productions

at The Pumphouse, Takapuna - return season, Auckland
From 22 Sep 2012 to 13 Oct 2012

Reviewed by Joanna Page, 23 Sep 2012

In through the door and off to our seats went me and my son to our first Tim Bray feat… 

It was Elliot's first theatre experience and I had concerns. After all he's not yet two. Would he be engaged and quiet for the hour? Would he scream the place down? Would we have to abandon the performance? I had nothing to worry about; it wouldn't have mattered if he was two or eighty-two.

Tim Bray's productions have a reputation for being THE shows to entertain children during the school holidays (in my day we trekked into Farmers on Hobson Street to see the latest Lego display), due in part to their incredibly high professional standard, but also because Bray treats his audience as intelligent theatre-goers no matter their age.  

Add New Zealand's best-loved animal characters to the mix, and you're almost guaranteed a hit.

That said, the reason for the success of Bray's adaptation of the Lynley Dodd books is the fact that the actors are the animals. At no point do they adopt human characteristics or habits. They're dogs and cats the whole time.  

From the moment Hairy Maclary (Reuben Turner) bounds on to the stage we know we are in for an hour of delight. The kids were thrilled to see their canine hero and the adults marveled at the sheer physical challenge of being a dog for an hour. (I take my hat off to Movement Coach Linda McFetridge and Massage Therapist Bryce Hatton.)  

But there isn't just Hairy Maclary. All his friends work equally hard to frolic, interact and bring Dodd's characters to life. With bark, yips, yaps and tail wags to suit each dog, Hercules Morse, Bottomly Potts, Muffin McLay, Bitzer Maloney and Schnitzel von Krumm hold their audience captivated. And then there's Pipiajna Tui Jane's Scarface Claw and Slinky Malinki. I'll have to modify my story-telling yowls to match hers from now on. 

Holding it all together is Georgia Wood, narrator, Miss Plum, Grandmother Pugh, endearing Zachary Quack and Samuel Stone. Whichever hat she wears, Woods has a gift for being in the story, not taking it over. And her singing voice is brilliant. 

I still don't know how the cast lasts under hot stage lights in Chantelle Gerrard's all-in-one costumes, particularly with such physically demanding roles. I suspect Rachael Walker's straight-from-the-pages-of the book set has a lot to do with it. As does Christine White's songs and Kristie Addison's incidental music.  

The only role more physically challenging is the NZ Sign Language Interpreter's. Kelly Hodgins and Noreen Smith will share the job over the show's run and it can't be easy to sign rhyme. 

I now know why the previous run of Hairy Maclary sold out. It's captivating and utterly delightful. Elliot loved it (apologies to anyone whose enjoyment was ruined by his cries of “Woof woof! Meow! Yay!”) 

Mr. Bray, you'll see a lot of us over the next decade. Be warned!  
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.

 Lexie Matheson


Editor posted 2 Nov 2012, 09:26 AM

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to attend special Hairy Maclary performance 

Out of the gate and off for a walk went Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy ...

Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be attending a special Royal performance of Tim Bray Productions' Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd during their visit in November to celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Producer Tim Bray says he is delighted to finally be able to announce the news. “I read that The Duchess of Cornwall is a huge fan of Hairy Maclary and when we heard about the Royal Tour we submitted a proposal and were accepted.”

The Royal performance of Hairy Maclary will be on Monday 12 November at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna. Also in attendance will be author Lynley Dodd, His Worship The Mayor of Auckland Len Brown and children from low decile schools from across Auckland, as well as children from Ronald McDonald House, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kelston Deaf Education Centre.

Hairy Maclary is one of Tim Bray Productions' most popular shows and had a sold out season during the October school holidays at the PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna. A final public performance of the show will be at the Bruce Mason Centre on Sunday 11 November at 6.30pm.

Along with favourite children's character Hairy Maclary, the show features Bottomley Potts, Hercules Morse, Muffin McLay, Bitzer Maloney, Schnitzel von Krumm and the indomitable Scarface Claw.

Adapted for the stage by Tim Bray, with a specially composed song by Christine White, the show covers eight of Lynley Dodd's famous stories about these favourite characters – Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, Hairy Maclary's Hat Tricks, Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, Scarface Claw, Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper, Hairy Maclary's Bone, Slinky Malinki and Hairy Maclary Sit.

Hairy Maclary is at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland on Sunday 11 November at 6.30pm. Book through Ticketmaster 0800 111 999