Napier Operatic Society

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Napier Operatic Society
Napier Operatic Society Logo.png
The Tabard Theatre at Night.JPG
The Tabard Theatre at night.
Legal statusIncorporated Society[1]
  • Napier, New Zealand
Hawkes Bay
Alan Jones
Sarah Ericksen

Napier Operatic Society (often abbreviated as NOS) is an amateur theatre society based in Napier, New Zealand. Established in 1887,[2] Napier Operatic Society is the second oldest-existing theatrical society in New Zealand,[3][4][5] and is nationally renowned for its critically acclaimed professional-quality productions.[6][7][8]

The society is based at The Tabard Theatre, which underwent extensive renovations completed in April 1994 – an extended rehearsal room, wardrobe hire, workshop, and restaurant-theatre complex were completed during the 5-year project.[9] The Napier Operatic Society produces multiple productions a year, and has done a major stage-show every year since 1887, with the exception of several years throughout the 20th century during overseas conflict and the aftermath of natural disaster.


The earliest known theatre company in Napier was the Napier Theatre Co., which in 1883, along with the Napier Musical Society and the Napier Amateur Drama Club combined to create the Theatre Royal. The Theatre Royal made its debut with the musical Trial by Jury, and out of this the Napier Operatic Society was born.

Most of the early productions were Gilbert and Sullivan plays, with the first production at the new Napier Municipal Theatre being A Greek Slave in 1912. The 1800 capacity of the Napier Municipal Theatre was noted to have been "frequently taxed to the uttermost", especially by people who drive in from the country areas.[10] Due to the onset of World War I, The Blue Moon was the last production by Napier Operatic Society until 1921.

Beauty and the Beast, 2007. Photo by Clive Ralph

The 1931 Napier earthquake caused significant damage to the Napier Municipal Theatre, contributing to Napier Operatic's hiatus until 1937. A Special General Meeting was held on 14 October 1937 where it was unanimously decided to revive the society. The first production in over 7 years, Rio Rita, was performed at the newly built Napier Municipal Theatre. Since then, with the exception of during World War II until 1953, there has been at least one production put on by Napier Operatic Society every year.

Mamma Mia!, 2014.

Napier Operatic Society has staged many hit musicals in recent years, including Les Misérables, 42nd Street, Chicago, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!,[11] and Evita.[12] Napier Operatic Society have since begun staging larger productions that typically would be seen at the Napier Municipal Theatre at the Tabard Theatre, such as Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Blood Brothers.[13]

Blood Brothers, 2017. Photo by Paul Taylor

Productions: 1887–present[edit]

1887 The Sorcerer 1888 No production. 1889 The Mikado
1890 Rip Van Winkle
1891 The Mikado
Madame Favart
1892 No production. 1893 Rip Van Winkle
Les Cloches de Cornville
1894–1907 No productions.
1908 The Gondoliers 1909 The Mikado 1910 The Geisha 1911 The Runaway Girl
1912 A Greek Slave 1913 Toreador 1914 Miss Hook of Holland 1915 The Blue Moon
1916–1920 No productions. 1921 The Geisha 1922 No production. 1923 A Country Girl
1924 Florodora 1925–1927 No productions. 1928 The Arcadians 1929 The Sunshine Girl
1930 Our Miss Gibbs 1931–1937 No productions. 1938 Rio Rita 1939 The Belle of New York
1940 Boots and All 1941–1953 No productions.
1954 Chu Chin Chow 1955 Desert Song
1956 The New Moon 1957 Oklahoma! 1958 Love from Judy 1959 The Vegabond King
1960 White Horse Inn 1961 Kismet 1962 The Music Man 1963 Where's Charley
The Merry Widow
1964 The Maid of the Mountains 1965 Annie Get Your Gun 1966 Amahal and the Night Visitors 1967 Little Mary Sunshine
1968 The Sound of Music 1969 Camelot 1970 Pink Champagne 1971 South Pacific
1972 Oliver! 1973 Fiddler on the Roof 1974 My Fair Lady 1975 Man of La Mancha
1976 Pirates of Penzance
Music Hall
1977 Oops Titipu
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
1978 Oh, What a Lovely War! 1979 The Great Waltz
1980 Jesus Christ Superstar 1981 HMS Pinafore
Hans Christian Andersen
1982 Cabaret
1983 Annie
1984 Man of La Mancha 1985 The Gingerbread Man
1986 Mack and Mabel 1987 The Sorcerer
1988 Oliver!
An Evening with Gershwin
1989 Grease 1990

The Fantastiks


Tom Jones
Me and My Girl


Jerome Kern, directed by Shirley Jarrett.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, directed by Phil Turley.


Nunsense, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.
West Side Story, directed by Rob Hickey.
A Place on Earth, directed by Dick Johnstone.


Canterbury Tales, directed by Dick Johnstone.
Cabaret, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.


Les Misérables, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM
A Slice of Saturday Night, directed by Rob Hickey.
Chess, directed by Jane Pierard.


Stepping Out, directed by Tessa-May Brown.
Love off the Shelf, directed by John Collier & John Matthews.


42nd Street, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.


The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Tessa-May Brown.
Dirty Weekends, directed by John Collier & John Matthews.


The Mikado, directed by Tessa-May Brown.
Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by David Sidwell.
Showstoppers, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.


HMS Pinafore, directed by Tessa-May Brown.
West End to Broadway, directed by Stephen Robertson.


Sweeny Todd, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.
Return to the Forbidden Planet, directed by John Collier & John Matthews.
Moby Dick, directed by Andrea Taafe.


Blood Brothers, directed by Geoff Turkington.
Les Misérables, directed by David Sidwell.
Some Enchanted Evening, directed by Tessa-May Brown.


Buddy, directed by David Sidwell.
Annie, directed by Sylvia Richardson.
Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Sonya Aifai.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, directed by Valda Peacock.
The Odd Couple, directed by Sylvia Richardson.


My Fair Lady
Gypsy, directed by Sylvia Richardson.
The Full Monty, directed by Chris Davidson.


The Threepenny Opera, directed by William Waitoa.
The Boy Friend, directed by Tessa-May Brown.
Back to the 80's, directed by Sonya Aifai.


Beauty and the Beast, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.
Cats, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.


The Producers, directed by Margot Minett & Joanne Stevens.
Thoroughly Modern Millie, directed by Tessa-May Brown.
Urinetown, directed by Chris Davidson.


Dinner with the Duke
If You're Irish
An ANZAC Tribute
Miss Saigon, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.


The Wedding Singer, directed by Sonya Aifai.
Bad Girls, directed by Wendy Revell.


42nd Street, directed by Rob Hickey.
Dusty, directed by Wendy Revell.


Chicago, directed by Wendy Revell.
That's Showbiz, directed by Oliver Christopherson.


Hairspray, directed by Wendy Revell.[14]
The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Gillian Davies, QSM.


Young Frankenstein, directed by Sylvia Richardson.
Dreamgirls, directed by Sonya Aifai.
Mamma Mia!, directed by Wendy Revell.


Evita, directed by James McCaffrey.
The Addams Family, directed by Rob Hickey.
Forbidden Broadway, directed by Dave Richardson.


Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Anthony Collier & Reiss Jenkinson.
Barnum, directed by Mark Oldershaw.
Nunsense, directed by Anthony Collier & James McCaffrey.


Mary Poppins, directed by Wendy Revell.[15]
Blood Brothers, directed by Anthony Collier.
A Great Face for Radio, directed by Wendy Revell.


Oliver!, directed by James McCaffrey.
Chess, directed by Sarah Rogers.


Les Misérables, directed by Lisa-Jane Easter.
Avenue Q, directed by Rob Hickey.


Grease, directed by William Waitoa.


Sister Act, directed by Wendy Revell.


The Boy Friend, directed by Kerry Unsworth.
Into the Woods, directed by Wendy Revell.

Society presidents: 1890–present[edit]

1890 J. D. Ormand 1893 J. W. Carlile 1910 W. Simm 1924–1929 Dr. R. I. Sutton 1930–1938 J. W. Cargill
1939–1954 J. Harris 1955 K. Douglas 1956 A. E. Herniman 1957–1958 J. S. Henney 1959–1961 E. A. G. Collier
1962–1966 P. Cox 1967 R. A. Clement 1968–1970 W. Tolhurst 1971 H. N. Unsworth 1972–1973 J. Collier
1974 H. Unsworth 1975–1983 W. O. Beckett 1984–1987 Mr. F.T. Twyford 1988–1991 Mr. P. F. Shepherd 1992–1995 Mr. J. A. Briggs
1996–1999 Mr. N.L. Page 2000-2005 Mrs. L.F. Reid 2006–2009 Mrs. L.D. Reid 2010–2012 Mrs. S.R. Pardoe 2012–2016 Mr. M. Collier
2017–2018 Mrs. T. Brown 2019–20 Mrs. A. Oldershaw 2020– Mrs. S.J. Ericksen

Honorary life members[edit]

Mr. C.W. White* Mr. P. Sorrell* Mrs. M. Sorrell* Mr. E.C. Collier*
Mrs. H. Collier* Mr. R.B. Wright* Mrs. W. Quarry* Mr. R. Houston*
Mr. J. Collier* Mr. C. Pritchard* Mrs. D. Unsworth Mr. A. Jones
Mr. D. Hurley Mr. F. Twyford Mr. B. Browne Mrs. L. Browne
Mrs. R. van de Ven* Mr. L. Robertson Mr. C. Allen Mr. B. Nathan*
Mr. I. Reid Mr. P. Shepherd Mr. G. Ace* Mr. J. Briggs
Miss G. Davies QSM Mrs. L. Reefman Mr. P. Eade Mr. J. Matthews*
Mr. J. Morgan* Mrs. L. Reid Mrs. L. Jones Mrs. A. L. Davies
Mrs. T. M. Brown Mrs. S. D. Aifai Mr. N. L. Page* Mrs. S. J. Page
Mrs. C. R. Kenah

"*" denotes deceased

Theatre School[edit]

Jackson Stone (Don Lockwood) and Olivia McCarthy-Gully (Lina Lamont) in the 2019 production of Singin' in the Rain Jr., 2019.
The Wizard of Oz, 2015. Photo by Paul Taylor

The Napier Operatic Society Theatre School (often abbreviated as NOS Theatre School) was one of the first youth theatre programmes to have been established by an existing amateur musical theatre society in New Zealand. Under the direction of Sonya Aifai since 2000, the theatre school has trained aspiring actors by casting them in yearly productions.

The Napier Operatic Society Theatre School has been nationally recognised, including in 2017 when it was awarded the Excellence in Acting award at the Junior Theatre Celebration in Auckland.[16] Subsequently, in both 2018 and 2019, theatre school alumnus Jackson Stone was awarded Outstanding Male Performer two years in a row for his roles as Donkey in Shrek Jr., and as Don Lockwood in Singin' in the Rain Jr.. Stone, alongside of other notable theatre school members Marcus Allan, Maia Driver, and Renee Seymour, represented NOS and New Zealand at the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta in 2020.[17]

Founding members of the Theatre School have gone on to perform directing roles on a local and national level; including Alice Pardoe in stage management for Taki Rua, Anne Aifai in choreography, Rachael McKinnon in directing, and Anthony Collier in directing and the establishment of Napier Theatre Company.[18]

Theatre School productions: 2000–present[edit]

2000 Establishment of Theatre School. 2001 Little Red Rockin' Hood, directed by Sonya Aifai. 2002 The Halfmen of O, directed by Jenny Wake. 2003 Peter Pan – The Crock Rock Musical, directed by Sonya Aifai.
2004 The Snow Queen, directed by Jenny Wake. 2005 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, directed by Sonya Aifai. 2006 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, directed by Jenny Wake. 2007 Aladdin Jr., directed by Sonya Aifai.
2008 Mulan Jr., directed by Sonya Aifai. 2009 Puss'n'Kiwiboots, directed by Linstead Allen. 2010 A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Jenny Wake. 2011 High School Musical Jr., directed by Sonya Aifai.
Cinders in the 60's, directed by Sonya Aifai.
2012 No production. 2013 Bugsy Malone, directed by Samantha Grant-Smith & Edina McFarland. 2014 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, directed by Sonya Aifai. 2015 The Wizard of Oz, directed by Anthony Collier.
2016 Annie Jr., directed by Rachel McKinnon. 2017 Beauty and the Beast Jr., directed by James Wright. 2018 Shrek Jr., directed by Sonya Aifai. 2019 Singin' in the Rain Jr., directed by Rachel McKinnon.
2020 Suessical Jr., directed by Jed Blundell. 2021 The Lion King Jr., directed by Sonya Aifai. 2022 Elf Jr., directed by Marcus Allan. 2023 TBA.


  1. ^ "Certificate of Incorporation".
  2. ^ "Campaign: Clive Ralph – Napier Operatic Society". Archived from the original on 9 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Amateur Theatre and Operatic Societies".
  4. ^ "Blenheim Musical Theatre – History".
  5. ^ "Hamilton Operatic".
  6. ^ "Beauty & a Feast for the Eyes" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Phantom casts spell over audiences".
  8. ^ "Operatic Society celebrates a century of performances at the Napier Municipal Theatre". Australasian Leisure.
  9. ^ Briggs, John. "Briggs Builders".
  10. ^ Wakely, Helen (1987). A Century of Shows. Dannevirke Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 20.
  11. ^ "Mamma Mia! Next for New Zealand Consortium". Stage Whispers.
  12. ^ "Napier Operatic Society Twitter".
  13. ^ "Blood Brothers comes to stage in Bay". Press Reader. Napier Mail. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Napier Operatic Society Photo Exhibition". Event Finder.
  15. ^ "Error".
  16. ^ "Young actors light up national stage". NZ Herald. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  17. ^ "Hawke's Bay teens selected to attend US musical theatre festival". NZ Herald. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Stories | Team Napier".

External links[edit]