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Astroman Arrives in Tāmaki Makarau

Astroman Arrives in Tāmaki Makarau


It’s 1983 and it’s on like Donkey Kong. Young Hemi ‘Jimmy’ Te Rehua is the king of the Whakatāne Astrocade Amusement Parlour. But, while there’s no limit to his domination of the Pac-Man and Galaga high score charts, this boy genius hasn’t yet worked out how to beat the game of life. With the help of the Astrocade’s grouchy owner and his plucky mum, Jimmy learns how to stand up to bullies and what it really means to be brave.

A love letter to the eighties, Astroman, by leading Māori playwright Albert Belz (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi, Ngati Pokai), is a co-production with Auckland Theatre Company and Te Rēhia Theatre Company in association with Auckland Arts Festival, and will open at Q Theatre in March.

In this new New Zealand coming-of-age tale, Belz pays affectionate homage to the decade of Poi E, Walkmans and Michael Jackson. The story oozes ‘80s nostalgia and celebrates the good times of growing up in small-town Aotearoa.

Sought-after Kiwi musician Laughton Kora (Kora, Amadeus, Jesus Christ Superstar) is Astroman’s music maestro. He’ll be using his musical talents to curate a remarkable eighties soundtrack, which will transport the audience back in time.

The cast is led by Miriama McDowell (Cellfish, The Great Maiden’s Blush, Burn Her), who plays Jimmy’s mother, and Nicola Kawana (Under the Mountain, Rendered, A Doll’s House) playing his teacher, Mrs Mahara.

The show will also bring some fresh faces to the Auckland Theatre Company stage, including Chapman Tripp award winner and Wellington based actor Gavin Rutherford (Top of the Lake, A View From The Bridge), Aaron McGregor (Slow West, Filthy Rich, Dear Murderer) and Rickylee Russell-Waipuka (Boy, This Is Piki, Stolen).

Set designer John Verryt (Rendered, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jesus Christ Superstar)will create the nostalgic ‘80s vibe, complete with tagging and game-inspired imagery in collaboration with AV designer Harley Campbell (Rendered). The designers will be working to integrate live performance and projection to create an immersive experience.

Director Tainui Tukiwaho says, “We champion Māori playwrights, tikanga Māori arts practice, te reo Māori and our diverse stories on stage nationally and internationally. Having worked with Albert Belz on many notable productions, we are excited to bring Astroman to the stage in this unique partnership with Auckland Theatre Company.”

Astroman premiered simultaneously at the Melbourne Theatre Company and the Court Theatre Christchurch in October 2018.

In the spirit of classic coming-of-age tales such as Stand By Me, Karate Kid and Boy, Astroman’s touching Kiwiana story of family, friendship and courage is a fun-filled retro comedy for the young and young-at-heart.

It plays 16 March to 6 April at Q Theatre.


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