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Revolutionary theatre APOLLO 13 to orbit NZ

Media Release June 22, 2009

Revolutionary theatre APOLLO 13 to orbit NZ

Imagine what it might be like to be 200,000 miles away from Earth, trapped in the vast emptiness of space in a capsule no larger than a Morris Minor. Then imagine it's up to you to bring it home.

That's the premise of the innovative theatre production APOLLO 13: Mission Control that wowed the critics and sold out its entire debut Wellington season in 2008. APOLLO 13: Mission Control launches in Hamilton July 20 to July 26 and then rockets to Auckland July 31 to August 15. The Hamilton season coincides with the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing made by Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin.

APOLLO 13: Mission Control is a live interactive film on stage, placing the audience into the heart of the action as members of the Mission Control team, participating in the action and making crucial decisions to ensure the astronauts make it home safely.

Flight director Gene Kranz, played by award-winning actor Jason Whyte, heads the Mission Control team along with actor Ashley Hawkes (and, of course, the audience), while astronauts Jim Lovell (played by Ryan O'Kane) and Fred Haise (Lee Smith-Gibbons) will be joined by an audience member in the space module for each 'mission'.

The theatre is transformed into an authentic replica Mission Control, complete with retro computers, giant video screens and the tiny tin spaceship where three astronauts are fighting for their lives. Significant improvements have been made from the Wellington season, providing increased interaction and more advanced consoles.

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Old-school phones will allow the audience to chat with each other to solve problems, a lunar-lander has been constructed to accompany the replica command module, audience 'Mission Control' actions will impact the enhanced graphic display, and there is a greater emphasis on audience-interactive problem solving.

There will be a new 'press gallery' seating arrangement for those who think the task of bringing the hapless astronauts home safely might be too much for them to handle.

In a coup for the production, New Zealand's internationally-recognised Rocket Lab has agreed to supply a replica of their kiwi-designed six-metre tall Atea-01 commercial space rocket which will feature prominently on display at the venues, adding a significant dimension to the educational component of APOLLO 13: Mission Control.

Many Wellington schools sent students to the 2008 APOLLO 13 season to learn about the Space Program, and this year sees a more developed educational aspect with information-packs now developed. There will also be information displays located in the foyers of the theatres.

Fraser Engineering, who have produced about 50 per cent of the heavy urban fire fighting units in New Zealand and Australia, is constructing the consoles, and iconic Kiwi clothing designers Huffer has stitched up a deal with APOLLO 13 to supply the merchandise.

Not only did APOLLO 13: Mission Control sell out every performance over a two-week season, it garnered two awards at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for Most Original Production of the Year and Sound Designer of the Year (Gareth Ruck) from four nominations.

"I have never seen anything quite like Apollo 13: Mission Control. It is a truly amazing production"

Laurie Atkinson, The Dominion Post

"Apollo 13 is astonishing. The technology is astounding, just the consoles are mini-masterpieces."

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times

APOLLO 13: Mission Control


July 20 – 26, 8pm

The Meteor, Hamilton

Bookings TicketDirect: 0800 4TICKET or


July 31 – August 15 (no shows Sunday and Monday)

Lower NZI Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE, Auckland

Bookings through THE EDGE: 0800 BUY TICKETS or

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