Community Theatre defies odds with milestone anniversary

This blog post is written by Te Waha Nui AUT Student Journalist, Sophie Watson. Sophie is a good friend of the PumpHouse Theatre. Enjoy!

Shoreside Theatre is celebrating ten years of its local favourite ‘mid-winter mystery’, despite years of setbacks.

Agatha Christie’s Witness For The Prosecution marks a big anniversary for the community theatre company, says director Mags Delaney-Moffatt.

“Agatha Christie is a sure fire winner. To have been able to have done ten of them is something I don’t think many other theatre groups have achieved.”

Delaney-Moffatt says Shoreside’s legacy of Agatha Christie’s and their audiences’ long-time loyalty is key to keeping community theatre alive.

“Especially in this day and age with all the funding cuts… having a successful genre, like Christie, like Shakespeare, that helps keep Shoreside alive. Without that, we’d be stuck.”

“Because it’s something people are familiar with, (Christie’s plays) offer a bit of comfort, especially coming out of Covid… the fact that you could go and see a bit of Agatha Christie down at your local theatre.”

Plunged into a lockdown with the rest of Aotearoa in 2020, Shoreside Theatre was forced to cancel the seventh season of the mid-winter mysteries.

The company then discovered $60,000 had been stolen from their accounts.

The Shoreside committee, made up of volunteers, found their treasurer had been making fraudulent banking transfers, going so far as to use his own child’s bank account to hide the money.

Despite the blow, Shoreside pushed through with the help of their community, keeping the mid-winter spirit alive with 2021’s The Mousetrap and their annual Shakespeare In The Park.

“That was amazing… we had a real sellout season and that was fantastic because it showed that people were wanting to come out again. That sort of told us that this is the kind of theatre people want to come out to.”

Delaney-Moffatt says a lot is owed to the longevity of Agatha Christie’s stories, with their appeal to both young and old, but it’s Shoreside quality productions that keep audiences coming back.

“There are some people who come every single year and there are people who come for the first time and go, ‘oh, is there another one next year? I’ll come to that.’”

Witness For The Prosecution, adapted from Agatha Christie’s 1925 short story, is one of her most famed plays, opening in London in 1953. Since then, it has been performed hundreds of times worldwide and adapted to both TV and the big screen.

“It’s a courtroom drama, and you don’t often see that in (her) plays… Witness For The Prosecution is definitely Christie through and through.”

Delaney-Moffatt says there is something for everyone in the show.

“Be prepared to gasp out loud.”

Shoreside’s iteration is being performed at The Pumphouse Theatre in Takapuna until the 30th of July.


Sign up today for regular updates, special offers and the chance to win free tickets.

Sign up