‘Pring it on’, on show at Māngere Arts Centre is a version of the early 2000′s movie Bring it On. Polynesian style.
Co-director Saale Ilaua says he is excited his actors can share their story in front of an audience after weeks of practice.
“I am so grateful to the cast, who have put in so much work into developing these amazing, beautiful colourful vibrant characters that were brought to life by these amazing actors on stage.
It brings to life the competitive nature seen between high schools every year at Polyfest, one of the largest Polynesian festivals in the world, through the fictional ‘South Auckland Grammar School.
“Our ensemble brought so much energy and hype plus their beautiful, soulful singing into the space and I believe the audience was blessed by the amazing performance we put on.”
The show is run by a newly formed company, Strictly Brown, run by two former drama teachers from Marcellin College, Ilaua and Leki Jackson-Bourke.
Both excelled in drama at school and had dreams of making it big in the acting industry but taking care of their families drove them to careers in education.
Speaking to 5.31pi Radio, Jackson-Bourke says it was scary leaving the comfort of a regular job but getting back to the stage was something that needed to be done.
“We love teaching kids but we got stuck in the system and we were like ‘Man, we need to do our own thing and still do what we love, which is work with young people and high-school kids but we also had the passion for performing arts and we did train in performing arts.
“We decided to take our background in education and the arts combine it together and form our own company.”
Pring It On follows the story of Penina Toleafoa, a New Zealand-born Samoan in her last year of school at South Auckland Grammar School who auditions for the Samoan Cultural Group.
When the going gets tough, Penina challenges the status quo and takes on the leader, Becky with the good hair” in a full-blown battle of the taupous (female dancers).
Adyhana Urika Filifilia who plays Penina, says she is grateful she gets to be part of a show where she had experienced a few what they’re portraying on stage.
“Pring it on is about Penina who’s going through a cultural identity crisis and trying to find her way by dealing with haters and bullies who try to belittle her and her cultural identity. She’s just trying to find her voice and she finds it through singing, dancing and joining the Polyfest group.”
Many in the audience have been reminded of the intensity of Polyfest practices, which also show similarities to kapa haka practice.
Memorable quotes such as “Practise like you performing on the day” and “Even if you’re at the back, the judges can still see you” gave a nostalgic feeling for the predominantly Pacific crowd.
In attendance for one performance was Olivia Taouma, who raved about the show that brought back stories of attending her son’s Polyfest school practices.
“The family had a blast watching. If you have performed in or been at Polyfest you will understand this world of intense competition and all the dramas that go with it.
“My son had traumatic reminders through his laughter and tears.
“So much fun and the singing was next level.”
The show will run until Saturday while secondary schools around Auckland prepare to start practising for the upcoming Polyfest, in March.