Yeah, right. I KNOW what you're thinking. "Aw, man, I've watched the movie and sort of read the book so who wants to see the musical?" Believe me, YOU do. Especially as it's being directed by the great man himself - Jim Moriarty / Artistic Director of Te Rakau Hua O Te Wao Tapu Trust - a Maori charitable trust performing theatre in schools, marae, remand centres, prisons and at-risk communities. Some of you might have seen the incredible productions out at the men and women's prisons (Christchurch) or at Kingslea.
Quite simply, Jim Moriarty is a legend and that being so it was hardly surprising I found myself reduced to something of a cliché - i.e. dumb blonde mode - when I met him in person.
We'd been invited out to 'Bootcamp' for the interview where the cast of 40 are holed up for several weeks for rehearsals. Basically, they're stuck in the middle of the Canterbury Plains surrounded by drought, raging n'west winds and not much of anythin' else apart from their energy, enthusiasm, the freshest well water in the world … oh, and a one hundred percent commitment to make this musical a landmark in NZ theatre.
They were just breaking for lunch when we arrived so it was over a plate of nachos (me praying that I didn't dribble sour cream anywhere or have strands of lettuce dangling from my teeth) that we chatted about Once Were Warriors The Musical.
You have to break the silence.
In Once Were Warriors the stage musical drama theatregoers can expect a production that marries the reality of contemporary urban life with the power and energy of musical drama and kapa haka.
Once Were Warriors the stage musical drama contains two narratives: the domestic story of the Heke family's living in and struggling to get out of their abject social conditions, and a mythic narrative that draws in the warrior ancestry that Jake has lost contact with as a counter point.
Once Were Warriors director Jim Moriarty has great praise for Riwia Brown's adaptation of Alan Duff's landmark novel as means of accomplishing this. A key difference to the book is the absence of swearing.
"Riwia's script is so strong it doesn't require f's and c's, it is as powerful as it needs to be without street language."
"It's a bit like Shakespeare," says Moriarty, "insults in Te Reo or Māori far outweigh street language and expletives. The insult questions a person's mana or lineage rather than just being offensive."
"This is Once Were Warriors," says Moriarty, "and we need to bring the that history into the show, we have to understand what Jake has lost contact with and why. That's crucial otherwise we loose the real power and impact of this story."
Once Were Warriors the musical drama will have its world premiere in Christchurch on 2nd March. It plays at the Theatre Royal until 10 March. The Dunedin season is at the Regent Theatre from 16 to 19 March. The show then returns to Christchurch from 24 March. The Auckland season is from 10 to 28 April at the St James Theatre, then Wellington's Opera House hosts the show from 3 to 22 May.
Director: Jim Moriarty
Script: Riwa Brown
Music: Richard Marett
Lyrics: Jamie Burgess
World Premiere @ Theatre Royal, Christchurch On Tuesday 2 March 2004
Touring: Dunedin, Auckland & Wellington