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Education: Kristin School

Peter Pan – No Simple Flight of Fancy

Believe it is possible. This has been the mantra of Kristin School’s Performing Arts team as they have devoted months to bringing the magical world of Neverland to life for the New Zealand premier of Peter Pan.

Setting the bar far beyond what many would expect from a school production, audiences of well over 3000 were treated to spectacular scenes of flying, an award-winning music score by Stiles and Drewe and a remarkable ever-changing set in their journey from Bloomsbury to Neverland and back again.

It was only six months ago that Kristin School announced it would be staging the award-winning UK hit, and in the intervening months there have been many milestones that have broken new ground for the school’s experienced and award-winning Performing Arts team.

The ambitious vision of performers soaring over Neverland led to a partnership with international stage flight specialists Flying by Foy. For over 55 years Flying by Foy have pioneered the use of innovative techniques to revolutionise theatrical flight. They created the magic of Willy Wonka’s Bubble Machine and were responsible for Lady Gaga’s iconic performance above the crowd at the 2010 MTV VMA’s, but this would be the first time they brought their expertise to a New Zealand school production.

Flying Director Steve Barber’s experience and instruction ensured absolute safety for the five flying cast members, however the strict rehearsal schedule meant that each performer had only one week to rehearse their flying scenes.

Over 390kg of flight equipment was installed into the school’s Auditorium in the weeks leading up to opening night, of which 128kg was steel cabling, and a team of 4 flight operators were trained under Steve’s direction to support the actors from behind the scenes. A total of 18 hours of flight training were packed into the final week of rehearsals and, over their five performances, the young Kristin actors spent 45 minutes performing from the skies.

Because of the technicalities involved in producing such elaborate flying scenes, the set design had to be adaptable. Set changes were choreographed to perfection, with modular designs evolving mid-scene to provide seamless transitions and striking stage effects. Few would have realised that a majority of the set pieces had been redesigned and adapted from past productions. The costumes too, were mostly crafted from previous shows with only a few key pieces created from scratch for the lead characters.

The show’s Director, Lorna Rood recognises that the success of Peter Pan exists in the collective talents of the production team, cast and crew. “Bringing together staff, students and Kristin Alumni to manage each of the intricate and elaborate aspects of the show has allowed creative ideas and practical solutions to combine in a way that translated seamlessly to the stage,” she says. “It was always going to be an ambitious project, but we took careful measure to ensure that every aspect of this production was going to be magical. In the worlds of Peter Pan - there is no harm in trying, just believe that you can and you will!”

A show of this scale is only made possible thanks to the incredible support that the North Shore community offers the Kristin Performing Arts programme. Kristin’s major productions are funded by ticket sales, and the school’s 1200-seater Auditorium is regularly sold out for big events such as this. For everyone connected to the school’s Performing Arts programme, this is one of the things that make the Arts at Kristin unique.

“To be able to offer such high calibre performance opportunities to our students is a source of great pride for our school,” said the show’s Producer and Executive Principal Peter Clague. “In the last few years we have put on Jesus Christ Superstar (2011) and Cats (2012), and each was more demanding than the last. This year the Peter Pan team have exceeded all of our expectations. It is a great feeling to know that we have risen to the challenge of staging the New Zealand premiere of such a spectacular show.”

Exciting New Coaches for Kristin Sporting Stars

Kristin’s Premier sport teams are looking forward to exciting seasons this year thanks to a number of high profile and key coaching appointments. Netball, Basketball, Water Polo, Rugby and Hockey are the five sports set to benefit directly from the new additions, with many of the teams already seeing fantastic results.

Anna Harrison (nee Scarlett), a well known and popular Silver Fern and ANZ Mystics defender, has already started to make her mark with intense and challenging preseason training sessions with the Senior 1 netball team. Her smart approach to training has focused the girls on growing their passing accuracy, technique and receiver control; reminding them that nailing the fundamentals is essential, no matter what sport you play.

In addition to Anna’s undeniable knowledge and experience, Kristin’s netballers are benefiting from the expertise of Olympic sprinter James Mortimer. James has worked with Kristin’s High Performance Netball programme since last year, delivering speed and agility workshops to girls from the Middle and Senior School. As well as being an integral part of this year’s preseason netball training, James has also been a key contributor for the school’s athletics team, helping with the preparation of last year’s NZ Championship squad including the Gold medal winning Intermediate Girls 4x100m Relay team.

Tony Webster, former North Harbour Age-Group, NBL and Junior Tall Blacks coach has joined Ken Coulson as co-coach of the Kristin Premier Boys’ Basketball team. Together the pair hopes to take the boys to the top of the North Harbour Secondary Schools competition. With many years of experience representing New Zealand, Tony is also one of the country’s most qualified youth coaches. He was the head coach of the 2010/11 New Zealand U17 team that won Silver at the FIBA Oceania Youth Tournament in New Caledonia. The relatively young Kristin team will benefit greatly from having such an experienced coach on board.

Kristin Water Polo has a new team this year, with a Premier Girls squad being entered into the Division 1 secondary school tournament for the first time. The new team is under the tutelage of Lian Mazzoleni, former NZ Senior Women’s Assistant Coach and current coach of the Waitakere Senior Women’s team. Lian brings with her a wealth of knowledge and a sterling coaching pedigree that has already seen results with the Kristin girls. The team finished an impressive 8th in the North Island Championships after only four months of training, securing their ticket to the New Zealand Champs later this year.

Kristin’s 1st XV Rugby team is facing a year of development with many young players entering into the ranks this season. It is a critical time for the team so it is appropriate that the boys are under the instruction of their new coach, Brett Craies, former Auckland and Waikato A rep and Senior Club coach. Brett has played rugby in the USA, Wales and Italy and still holds the record for the most points in a debut for Auckland and the most conversions in a Ranfurly Shield match. He has a vast and successful coaching resume at both age group and senior levels and is a Barbarian Club member.

The school’s hockey teams are welcoming three of New Zealand’s Black Sticks to the coaching line-up. Olympian Ben Collier will take the lead for the 1st XI Boys, James Coughlan will be working with the 1st XI Girls and Pippa Hayward will be working with the Girls Development team. With more than 200 caps between them, there is no shortage of top-level experience amongst these new coaches.

Kristin’s ability to provide its top teams with the best possible coaches is a source of great pride for school. These new appointments have already delivered a great deal of value to the school’s young athletes and are a great addition to the already successful and renowned group of coaches. We look forward to watching these teams flourish under their expert guidance.


by Channel Editorial