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Iconic Maurice Gee novel makes stage debut in Auckland Theatre Company's 25th anniversary season

The 80s classic that captivated a generation, Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain, has been adapted for the stage in an innovative production abounding in magical special effects.


The 80s classic that captivated a generation, Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain, has been adapted for the stage in an innovative production abounding in magical special effects.

The world premiere of Pip Hall’s adaptation of this kiwi adventure story, opens at the ASB Waterfront Theatre on 7 February as part of Auckland Theatre Company’s 25th Season.

Twins Rachel and Theo are rural New Zealand kids. Apart from their bright red hair, there’s nothing much remarkable about them. Well, except their extraordinary psychic powers.

The two chosen ones are soon enlisted by Mr Jones, a wise alien out to save the universe from the Wilberforces, a race of giant creatures waking from a spellbound sleep beneath Auckland’s extinct volcanoes.

The Wilberforces’ primary goal is planetary destruction. Rachel and Theo must learn to use their powers and battle supernatural forces before Auckland is destroyed.

Maurice Gee’s novelwhich is a staple in classrooms across the country, was made into a 1981 television miniseries and a 2009 film. Now, Pip Hall (Why Does Love?, The 53rd Victim, Shudder, The Woman Who Loved a Mountain), the daughter of playwright Roger Hall, is bringing one of Aotearoa’s favourite novels to the stage in a contemporary adaption.

The twins from Te Kuiti navigate not only the wrath of the Wilberforces – aka. The Wilberfi – but life in the Big Smoke, environmental issues and being a 12-year-old kid in the twenty first century.   

This world premiere production will be directed by Sara Brodie (Nixon in China, Don Giovanni, The Bone Feeder), whose spectacular stage skills were widely-admired in Auckland Theatre Company’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Brodie will bring her signature combination of theatre, dance and music, with contemporary dancers set to play the Wilberfi. They include Russian dancer Melana Khabazi (The Navigators; Moon), dancer and choreographer Daniel Cooper (Billy Elliot the Musical, WOW) and Jesse Wikiriwhi (K'Rd Strip - A Place to Stand, Nancy Boys, King Kong).

The cast includes Peter Hayden (You Can Always Hand Them Back, Other Desert Cities, Ladykillers, The Fire-Raiser) and Nicola Kawana (Shortland Street, A Doll’s House, Mercy Peak), alongside recent drama school graduates Katrina George (Kororareka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn) and Richie Grzyb who will play the red-headed twins.

The creative team comprises industry masterminds, costume designer Elizabeth Whiting (Nell Gwynn, The Bone Feeder), set designer Rachael Walker (Nell Gwynn, That Bloody Woman, Angels in America)and sound designer Thomas Press (Billy Elliot the Musical, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).

The ASB season of Under the Mountain will be a magical evening for anyone aged eight and over.

Subscriptions are now open for Auckland Theatre Company’s 2018 season. Subscribers are the first to hear about additional offerings and events throughout the year and receive numerous benefits such as great ticket savings, unlimited exchanges and complimentary programmes.
For more information or to order a copy of the 2018 season brochure, please visit

Further information: 

For media information, images and interviews, please contact Miryam Jacobi from Mr Fahrenheit Publicity, on or 027 366 2277
ASB season of Under the Mountain
Season dates: 7 – 21 February, 2018
Written by: Maurice Gee
Adapted by: Pip Hall
Directed by: Sara Brodie
Costume designer: Elizabeth Whiting
Set designer: Rachael Walker
Sound designer: Thomas Press
Lighting designer: Jo Kilgour
Rachel: Katrina George
Theo: Richie Grzyb
Ricky: Kimo Houltham
Mr Jones: Peter Hayden
Aunty Nolene: Nicola Kawana
Johan/Wilberforce: Simon Mead
Lenart/Wilberforce: Joe Witkowski
Mr Wilberforce: Daniel Cooper
Mrs Wilberforce: Melana Khabazi
Wilberforce: Jesse Wikiriwhi
Under The Mountain, adapted by Pip Hall, was commissioned and developed by Auckland Theatre Company, New Zealand.
ASB is the exclusive Principal Partner of Auckland Theatre Company and Presenting Partner Under The Mountain.