A mash-up of Diana Isaac village anecdotes and show stopping numbers from 50s and 60s musicals made up ‘The 10-Year Celebration’ of DI, of one of Ryman’s iconic villages.
A group of dedicated songsters, musicians (helped by stage crew) gathered to entertain residents, many of whom are stalwarts at the anniversary-celebrating Mairehau village. The village centre was jam-packed with everyone ready to enjoy some special entertainment.
The event started with a rendition of the Broadway tune We’re Gonna put on a Show, a rousing song by Jay Althouse. From there the musical selections became more common with top numbers from Lionel Bart’s Oliver, from South Pacific, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music.
Talented village vocalists led the production from the top. They included Murray and Ngaire Lennox, Alister Leckie, Bob Fendall, Phil Robinson, Gillian Kney, Kay Johnston, Carol Harrison, Janet Scanlon and Gertruud Steltenpoole.
The choral team, also including Jenny Allison, Robyn Fairweather, Margaret France, Erin McKechnie, Heather Murchison, Susan Noble and Maria Wynands, gathered in the atrium, ready to dazzle the waiting audience. They were led into the performance space by Sandra Norquay (musical director) and Maggie Gubbins (one of the props team).
Sandra, also the regular village choir conductor, led the numbers including Some Enchanted Evening and helped make sure the well-known tunes were given a workout for the eager audience.
Accompanist Jean White ensured the songs resounded for all to hear. Jenny Norris helped her organise the turning of the musical scores.
In between the songs there were pieces of narration read by Mary Hilgendorf, who brought back to life some of the early days around the village centre.
There were stories of the village construction and the experiences the early residents within what was a huge project of getting townhouses, apartments and the village centre ready for what eventually became a community of hundreds of people.
Mary Hilgendorf, the producer of ‘The 10-Year Celebration’, was happy to read out some of the history of the village, as relayed in conversations with some of the original residents.
Community life was different when there were fewer residents. For a period, Happy Hours were held in the Cobb & Co in Cranford St. The original address of the village, before the construction of Lady Isaac Drive, was 88 Philpotts Road.
A couple of residents remember sneaking, late in the day, through the fence and past the potholes to see the latest building progress. Some of the early settlers came into Diana Isaac because they had lost their own homes in the earthquakes.
In between the history, including anecdotes about Diana, Lady Isaac, songs from the shows including Les Miserables and Cats, highlighted the feel-good event. Stagehands included Gary Archbold, Norm Reid and Graham Norquay.
Tracey McCullough, who has been Diana Isaac’s busy Village Manager in recent years, was on hand to watch the celebrations, also winding down in that role as she hands over VM responsibilities to Steve Wakeman. She joined with Kate Archbold (pictured) for a photo.