It was a cold August evening, but the heat was turned up at The Court Theatre, which brimmed with theatre-lovers keen to attend the gala launch of the Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race.
As the top sponsor of The Court Theatre, Ryman Healthcare residents, team members and friends of Ryman enjoyed drinks, nibbles, and contemporary jazz music prior to viewing this uplifting comedy set in small-town Australia.
Court Theatre Chief Executive Barbara George introduced the evening, offering a glimpse into the vibrant performances that lie in store during the 2024 season at The Court.
“I’m very excited to share that shortly we will be launching the first reveal of the Ryman Healthcare 2024 season at the Court. It promises to be ambitious and absolutely bursting with incredible plays,” said Barbara.
“Thank you to the Ryman Healthcare team for your valued partnership. The support of Ryman Healthcare helps us lead the future of live theatre in Aotearoa, New Zealand.”
Ryman Healthcare Sales Advisor Tracy Blackadder spoke next, thanking the Court Theatre for continuing to be a pillar of strength in the Christchurch arts scene.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be here this evening to celebrate our Court Theatre partnership with all of you. It’s a pleasure to have all of you here tonight united by our shared love of the arts and culture,” she said.
“Like the Court Theatre, Ryman is deeply rooted in the Canterbury community, so to be sharing our partnership here in the Shed is an exciting way to celebrate with you all. Over the last couple of years, we’ve had lots of fun, with themed events, backstage tours, visits to our team from the Jesters, and now another wonderful Gala evening.”
“Tonight’s performance of The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race promises to be a delightful spectacle. Moments like these that remind us of the sheer magic of live theatre and the joy it brings to our lives.”
To conclude, Tracy asked the audience to look at the seat numbers on their tickets. The ticketholders had been put into a draw for three gift bags, with the winners collecting their prizes to enthusiastic applause.
Next, director Anthea Williams took up the mike. She thanked the audience for attending and introduced the play, which is set in 2019 and based on a true story. The play’s author Melanie Tait grew up in a small town where the annual potato race became the catalyst for change in the town, and ultimately the inspiration for The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race.
“She has written all her characters with great care and love. They are all complex, fabulous women, and they all just want the best for their town,” said Anthea.
The gala evening was only the second time the Court Theatre performers had performed the play in front of an audience, and the second time the play has been shown outside Australia.
“We’re in a period of the show called a prelude, where we show the play to an audience for the very first time,” said Anthea.
“So, thank you for coming along, we think you’ll have a great time!”
The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race performances will be held at the Court Theatre until 9 September, so pick up your ticket and race along!