Silly spin on a classic story

Jonty Climo is soaking up the experience in his first role as a director. Photo: Nikki South.

“You can be called the director, but you can’t direct a show without a good team.”

It’s not a one-man band, but Jonty Climo is the brain behind 16th Avenue Theatre’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ show.

The 19-year-old, who already has a bucket-load of experience in theatre, is soaking up the experience in his first role as a director, alongside his mentor and best friend Liam Hagan.

“I’ve spent a lot of years in theatre – more on-stage than off – and I do a lot of tech, mostly at 16th Ave, but this will be my first time directing a show,” says Jonty. “It’s been a great experience, but also challenging at times.”

The show will have all the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ favourites, such as Cheshire cat, the mad hatter and of course Alice, but with a twist.

There will also be some music favourites to match the show, such as ‘Stand by Me’ by Benny King, ‘Three little Birds’ by Bob Marley, and a few tunes from the ‘Wonderland’ soundtrack.

Jonty says he had his first lightbulb moment for the show when he was cast as ‘Jack’ for the 16th Ave theatre musical ‘Jack in the Beanstalk’.

The show used a technique called pantomime, which is a form of theatrical entertainment where you take a very well-known storyline and add in audience interaction, so the audience becomes its own character.

“I fell in love with the pantomime concept pretty fast as soon as I got into it, and I knew I also wanted to direct, but I didn’t know what I wanted to direct.”

Jonty says he was running through a few classic storylines and felt that ‘Alice in Wonderland’ would be a great story to tell in the pantomime style.

“Growing up I loved ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – it was my childhood story, and I used to read the story over and over again, so I really wanted to put that on-stage.”

From there he became a committee member at 16th Ave theatre and pitched his idea.

 “I didn’t really know how to put myself forward as a director, so I got on the 16th Ave theatre committee just to do so, and then – because of my age – they suggested I have a mentor.”

Jonty says Liam has been hugely supportive of his vision and has helped him get through all of the hurdles that have come up along the way.

“I’ve learnt a lot, but it’s definitely been a team effort. You can be called the director, but you can’t direct a show without a good team behind you – and I’ve got an amazing team.”

‘Alice in Wonderland’ opens on Tuesday, January 15, at 7pm at 16th Avenue Theatre at 164 16th Avenue West, Tauranga. Tickets cost $20 each for all ages.

For more information, see:

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter