What people are saying about Breaking Plates – The Musical

Breaking Plates – The Musical – The Star, Thursday 9th March 2023
Breaking Plates – The Musical – Stuff, 27th Feb 2023

Breaking Plates – The Musical – Backstage Christchurch, 8th March 2023

Review by Belinda Cullen-Reid

I was fortunate to be invited to a dress rehearsal of ‘Breaking Plates’ a musical being premiered at the Piano. This is a new musical, with dialogue, lyrics and music, all written by Costa Kerdemelidis, who used to own Santorinis, which was a Greek restaurant in Christchurch.

Kerdemelidis, who immigrated from Greece in 1951, has taken his experience of running Santorinis and meshed in storylines from people he has known, to come up with a storyline that is both passionate and tender. A sort of modern day ‘Fiddler on the roof’, ‘Breaking Plates’ tells the story of Yorgo, a Greek immigrant to New Zealand, who runs a restaurant in Christchurch with his mother and four children. Yorgo is desperate to hold onto Greek traditions, but the harder he holds on, the more they slip away. This jeopardises the whole family dynamic, which looks to be falling apart, when an even bigger eruption occurs; the Christchurch February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Directed by Ravil Atlas, who moved to Christchurch thirteen years ago from the United States, ‘Breaking Plates’ tells the story of landing in a strange place, with foreign customs and trying to figure out how to hold on to who you were, while discovering who you can now be. It is an uncomfortable ride, as new ideas and ways of doing things collide with traditions that seem intrinsic to the identity of the person holding them. Throw in a catastrophic natural disaster and you have a show that is challenging and emotionally taxing. Juxtaposed to this is the liveliness and merriment of Greek culture with its music and dancing and copious amounts of Ouzo! It’s quite the rollercoaster.

Atlas has done well to pull this all together. He has a command over his performers that brings out the best in them. An example of this is Michael Bayly as Yorgo, who gives an outstanding performance, bringing passion and frustration to the role of the patriarch trying desperately to recreate a little Greece in Christchurch.

Deen Coulson is the Musical Director and he does an excellent job of bringing Kerdemelidis’s vocal arrangements to life. The vocals for this show are amazing with stand out performances by Alyssa Parkinson, as Agapi, and Mathew Hatten as Achilles. The tango number between Mathew Hatten and Angus Howat, playing Damien, was beautifully performed. It would be great to see additional choreography added to future productions of the show to really bring the vivaciousness of Greek culture to life on stage.

I hope this show keeps evolving. While it could also benefit from more work on transitions and addressing a few flat spots in solo numbers, as well as the addition of further choreography, having a show set in Otautahi, capturing a time in history and narratives of immigrants is exciting. I hope you go on breaking plates!

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