Latest Ryman news

Feather boas and fancy frocks out in force for Priscilla first night

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on October 26, 2022

It was hard to spot any first night jitters under all the glitter and sparkle, but director and choreographer Michael Sanders insists he was a bag of nerves at the opening night of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
A season of the stage version of the hit Aussie film is being presented by Ōrewa’s Centrestage Theatre and sponsored by Ryman Healthcare’s Evelyn Page Retirement Village where Michael works as Activity & Lifestyle Coordinator.
“This week has been quite nerve-wracking and it’s only now I’m starting to feel a bit calmer,” said Michael during the first half intermission.

Members of the village team joined a group of residents in prime seats for the show, which tells the story of drag queens Tick, Bernadette and Adam as they take their act to the Australian outback on a pink bus nicknamed Priscilla.
The colourful costumes and clever stage sets were impressive, and the singing was incredible, especially when you consider Oscar Lyons, who plays Adam, is still only in Year 12 at Western Springs College!
Most of the cast members were keen to tick Priscilla off their list of shows to take part in, and Michael said it had been on his bucket list for ‘a very long time’ too.
“Back in 1994 I was obsessed with the movie to the extent in the first week I saw it four times.
“I mean, who wouldn’t be obsessed with drag queens travelling the Australian outback in a pink bus?! But Priscilla also tackled more serious issues, about acceptance, bigotry, and being who we are, in a way that resonated with me.”
20221022_222454 (1) (Large)

Some of the costumes on show in the colourful spectacle (above) and (below) at Centrestage Theatre in Orewa, and residents Pam Laird and John Rae meet Lady Armilade aka Amrit Soma on the pink carpet (featured top).


Priscilla1Michael first appeared on stage 50 years ago in Flower Drum Song for the Hamilton Light Opera Club. Since then, his theatrical journey has been busy and varied.
He has appeared in roles in shows such as Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, and Ladies Night, he has danced in many revues around New Zealand, he has choreographed beauty pageants including Miss World New Zealand and Queen of the Whole Universe, and has directed across the country, from Ashburton, to Pukekohe to Ōrewa.
He has also been on tv, with appearances varying from tv commercials to the Kiwi rite of acting passage, Shortland Street.
Michael said Priscilla had been in production for three months preceding the open night, which he somehow managed to juggle with his full-time role organising interesting activities for residents to do.
In this instance, the two worlds collided, with the residents who attended all agreeing this was definitely up there with fun things to do.
"It was brilliant from start to finish," said Dorothy Waddell. "Costumes superb, choreography wonderful, singing brilliant, acting incredible! Everything in fact was fantastic and a great achievement for Michael."
Judy Marshall described it as a 'wonderful, professional show'.
"The calibre of the production is outstanding which is a remarkable feat when no one involved gets paid. Get down to Centrestage to support local talent!" she added.

Get your tickets now by heading to The season runs until Saturday, 12 November. 

20221022_223502 (1) (Large)
Priscilla Director and Choreographer Michael Sanders (centre) with members of the Ryman Healthcare and Evelyn Page team.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

You may also like:

Knitting and nattering to help others

Every Monday afternoon a group of knitters gathers in the lounge of Evelyn Page Retirement Village for a knit and a natt...