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Star Cast Announced For Blockbuster Production Of North By Northwest

Auckland Theatre Company rounds off year with thrilling Hitchcock spectacular, starring Antonia Prebble and Ryan O’Kane

A bold reimagining of the beloved Alfred Hitchcock classic film into a play, by stage and screen writer Carolyn Burns, has wowed audiences the world over since its world premiere season in 2015 at the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Now, with an all-Kiwi cast of the country’s top acting talent, director and creator of North by Northwest Simon Phillips (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies, Muriel’s Wedding), one of Aotearoa’s most successful theatrical exports, returns home to direct its New Zealand premiere at ASB Waterfront Theatre.

Simon Phillips says, "Carolyn and I are so delighted to be bringing this production to our homeland. It’s one of my favourites, because in adapting a classic film, it somehow doubles its resounding celebration of live theatre and what a group of actors can achieve if they put their backs into it.

And what a fantastic collection of New Zealand’s finest actors I have to play with! I can’t wait to start work with them, to bring Auckland all the thrills, spills, wit and wizz-bangery of our lively tribute to Hitchcock’s masterpiece."

Renowned actress Antonia Prebble (Westside, Goodbye Pork Pie, Outrageous Fortune) makes her return to the stage after nine years, last seen treading the boards in Auckland Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of The Glass Menagerie in 2013. Having graced local and international television and movie screens for many years, in North by Northwest Prebble headlines as glamourous and quick-witted double agent, Eve Kendall.

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In the role made famous by movie star Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s original film, award-winning Kiwi actor Ryan O’Kane (One Lane Bridge, The Justice of Bunny King, A Streetcar Named Desire) makes his Auckland Theatre Company debut as leading man-on-the-run, Roger O. Thornhill.

In North by Northwest, the successful and suave Madison Avenue advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill’s life is flipped upside down when a case of mistaken identity turns him into a framed fugitive thrust into a world of espionage, mystery and romance.

From New York to North Dakota, Thornhill is chased by spies, Feds, and cool blonde Eve Kendall. Complete with car chases, plane crashes and the final cliff-hanger on Mount Rushmore, the twists, turns and tensions of Hitchcock’s cinematic sensation come to life on stage in this lightning-paced stage adaptation.

Joining Prebble and O’Kane is a magnificent large ensemble cast, including Nicola Kawana (Astroman, Brokenwood Mysteries, Shortland Street), Andy Grainger (Jersey Boys, Six Degrees of Separation, The Breaker Uppers), Michèle Hine (Headsand, The Pact, Go Girls), Mustaq Missouri (Rūrangi, The Gulf, A Fine Balance) Roy Snow (Little Shop of Horrors, The Stolen, The Shannara Chronicles), Mel Odedra (Bad Behaviour, A Fine Balance, Bad Seed), Jonathan Martin (Grand Horizons, Falling Inn Love, Shortland Street), Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson (Savage, Still Life with Chickens, Shortland Street), Wesley Dowdell (Outrageous Fortune, Once on Chunuk Bair, World’s Fastest Indian), Alvin Maharaj (Head High, Tea, Lovebirds), Jessie Lawrence (Brokenwood Mysteries, Julius Caesar, Shortland Street) and Daniel Watterson (Whina, Sweet Tooth, Things I Know to be True).

Phillips’ stellar original creative team, consisting of Nick Schlieper (Lighting and Set Design), Esther Marie Hayes (Costume Design) and Ian McDonald (Composer) are joined by Associate Director (NZ) Eleanor Bishop (The Strangest of Angles, The Seagull, Yes Yes Yes) for the Auckland season. With the full original set, iconic costumes and world class production values coming to the ASB Waterfront Theatre in October, this is large-scale international entertainment at its best.

Before Bond, there was North by Northwest. From go to woah audiences will be enthralled by non-stop action, break-neck physicality and all the cinematic glamour and escapism of the greatest chase movie of all time, right here on stage in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The unmissable New Zealand premiere of North by Northwest opens 25 October 2022, tickets available from

NORTH BY NORTHWEST by Ernest Lehman, adapted by Carolyn Burns

An Auckland Theatre Company production, by special arrangement with Warner Bros Theatre Ventures. Originally produced by Kay & McLean Productions in association with the Melbourne Theatre Company.

ASB Waterfront Theatre, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

25 October – 19 November 2022

Tickets and info 0800 ATC TIX

Media Contact: For media information, images and interviews, please contact Vanessa Preston, PR Manager, Auckland Theatre Company: or ph: +64 21 217 3452


Video: North by Northwest Trailer from 2016 Arts Centre Melbourne season


Roger O. Thornhill Ryan O’Kane

Eve Kendall Antonia Prebble

Professor, Larry Wade, Judge Voiceover Mustaq Missouri

Bell Boy, Valet, Sgt Klinger, Agent Anderson, Pilot, Sgt Flamm Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson

Leonard, Fanning Nelson, Price, Policeman Jonathan Martin

Mrs Thornhill, Housekeeper, UN Desk Clerk, Auction Bidder Michèle Hine

Newsreader, Herman, Doctor, Detective, Lt. Harding,

Townsend, Teller, Man (Cornfield), Auctioneer, Hitchcock Andy Grainger

Vandamm, Policeman, UN Bystander Roy Snow

Janitor, Head Waiter, Policeman, Detective, Miller, Steward,

Hotel Clerk, Radio Announcer Wesley Dowdell

Maggie, Mrs Townsend, Elmore, Maid, UN Woman,

Airline Teller, Hospital Woman Nicola Kawana

Budnikov, Auction Bidder Mel Odedra

Gruzinsky, Taxi Driver, Lawyer, Porter, Truck Driver,

Auction Bidder Alvin Maharaj

Understudy: Eve, Mrs Thornhill, Maggie Jessie Lawrence

Understudy: Roger, Leonard Daniel Watterson


Adapted by Carolyn Burns

Director and Co-set Designer Simon Phillips

Lighting and Co-set Designer Nick Schlieper

Costume Designer Esther Marie Hayes

Composer Ian McDonald

Associate Director Jessica Burns

Associate Director NZ Eleanor Bishop

Audio-Visual Design Josh Burns





Notes to the Editor:

About Simon Phillips

Raised and educated in New Zealand, Simon cut his theatrical teeth working at the famed Mercury Theatre before departing New Zealand to become Artistic Director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia from 1990 to 1993 and Artistic Director of the Melbourne Theatre Company from 2000 to 2011. His directing credits range from new works to contemporary and Shakespearean classics to musicals to opera.

He has directed works by most of the great contemporary writers: Albee(A Delicate Balance), Beckett (Happy Days), Brecht (Artuo Ui), Churchill (Cloud Nice/Serious Money), Hare (The Blue Room), Mcdonagh (The Pillowman), Orton (What The Butler Saw/ Entertaining Mr Sloane), Shepherd (Buried Child/A Lie Of The Mind), and Stoppard (Arcadia/Rock’n’Roll).

He has also directed the premieres of many new works by leading Australian writers, including David Williamson, Stephen Sewell, Hannie Rayson and Joanna Murray-Smith. Among his many classical productions The Tempest, Julius Caesar, A Comedy of Errors and The Importance Of Being Earnest all toured nationally in Australia.

Simon’s musical credits in Australia include An Officer and A Gentleman, Love Never Dies, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (which also had seasons in New Zealand, Canada, Italy, Brazil, on the West End and Broadway), The Drowsy Chaperone, The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Urinetown The Musical, Company, The Threepenny Opera, Cabaret and High Society (Australia and the UK).

Simon’s opera credits include La Boheme, Falstaff, L’elisir D’amore and Lulu for Opera Australia, The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni for Opera New Zealand and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Billy Budd for Hamburg State Opera. Most recently, Simon created a brand-new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera staged in Sydney Harbour for Opera Australia.

Simon’s numerous awards include seven Green Room Awards and six Helpmann Awards.

About Carolyn Burns

Carolyn Burns is a television scriptwriter, dramaturg and playwright. She began her career in New Zealand, first in print journalism, then as a reporter for TVNZ. Burns had already begun writing for a children’s theatre company in Auckland, before devising and writing an 18-part children’s comedy thriller, The Retrievers for television.

Her first major play for adults, Objection Overruled was published by Victoria Press and performed in all major New Zealand theatres. After moving to Australia, she again worked as a journalist with SBS World News, before attended the Australian Film TV and Radio School in Sydney, graduating in screenwriting. She has since worked on a number of TV drama series while continuing to write for the stage.

Some of her favourite theatrical works include Smash Hit, a large multi-media musical aimed at educating teenagers on responsible driving, and stage adaptations of Katherine Suzannah Pritchard’s classic Australian novel Haxby’s Circus and the musical High Society, which toured both Australia and the UK.

Since returning to Melbourne in the early 2000’s with husband, theatre director Simon Phillips, she has worked mainly as a free-lance script consultant and dramaturg. In 2015 she and Simon joined forces with New Zealand singer/songwriter Tim Finn to adapt Madeleine St John’s classic Australian novel, The Women in Black, for the stage. Ladies in Black produced by the Queensland Theatre Company, won the 2016 Helpmann Award for best new Australian work and toured to Melbourne and Sydney.

Phillips, Finn and Burns teamed up again to create a new musical comedy, based on a short story by award-winning British writer, Kazuo Ishiguro. Come Rain or Come Shine opened at the Melbourne Theatre Company in June 2022.

© Scoop Media

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