Our Year 13 student and college Arts Prefect, Tama Anthony-Whigham, has recently entertained huge audiences at the Regent Theatre with his various ensemble roles in Musical Theatre Dunedin's production of Les Misérables.
Tama talks candidly about his experiences working on this major musical production...
Live theatre is a form of entertainment like no other. I’ve spent most of my life being involved in various performances, from small Cello concerts to large scale musicals. Over the past few years I’ve been involved with various Theatre Restaurants, smaller shows, and this month I was lucky enough to be a part of the ensemble for Musical Theatre Dunedin's production of Les Misérables put on in the Regent Theatre in early May. Getting to be a part of such a highly talented cast was a great honour - most notably, James Adams (Jean Valjean) and Greg Macleod (Javert). My experience being part of this ensemble was unlike any other show I’ve done before. The show went through many ups and downs over its long preparation time. Originally, it was going to be performed in May of 2020, however, due to COVID-19, it was postponed to 2021. This brought with it changes to the director, musical director and many cast members. The months leading up to the performance itself were incredibly busy, we would rehearse most evenings and weekends, thus leaving me with little free time.
Les Misérables was the second large production I’ve done, the first being The Highlights, which was put on in the Regent in late 2020. Getting to perform on the Regent Theatre Stage is a privilege that I’m incredibly lucky and grateful for. Backstage would always be hectic and full of fellow cast members rapidly changing costumes, makeup, getting microphones, and of course, the stage crew. The crew that operate the curtains, props, makeup and wigs are the unsung heroes of Les Misérables (and any piece of theatre for that). While the cast and orchestra have months to learn their music and to prepare, the stage crew learns all of their cues in the week before opening night!
During the show season, we were lucky enough to receive marvellous reviews and feedback. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. Being a member of the cast opened up many new opportunities for me. An example of this would be, in the middle of the season, I had the pleasure of getting to meet a man whom I consider to be one of the more influential writers and comedians in my life, Ben Elton.
I highly recommend getting involved with the arts, even if you’re unsure about it, to begin with. Drama, music, and art are incredibly rewarding areas that are often overlooked and get overshadowed by things like rugby and other sports. McGlashan is lucky to have such a supportive group of teachers within the arts, and I support considering a subject like drama, music or art, you may end up going down a path you never expected you’d go down.
Ka mau te wehi! Thanks for sharing your experiences Tama and for all your hard mahi on this show. The large group of teachers who attended the first Tuesday performance of Les Misérables were in awe of your professionalism and nuanced performance skills. You've come a long way since your first major role in college productions, beginning as a Year 7 student in The Idiot's Guide to Broadway in 2015. We are excited to see what's in store for you on stage in the future! Break a leg!