Lights out, that’s a wrap, the curtains have been drawn, that’s all she wrote… However you say it, the Stage Challenge nationwide tour has finished up for another year at Auckland’s ASB Theatre.

What a sensational year of youth creativity, innovation and talent. 16,000 participants from up to 200 schools provided a whirlwind show of non-stop entertainment, from all the way down in Invercargill, right up-to Northland’s Whangarei.

Stage Challenge proved yet again that Kiwis truly know how to express important concepts and stand up for what they believe in. We saw performance themes relevant to 2016 really strike a chord with performers and audience members throughout the country.

Many schools shed light on the Syrian refugee crisis, along with issues such as deforestation, the gender pay gap, the loss of value in New Zealand’s milk and slavery being brought to the attention of audience members throughout the tour.

A standout, truly emotive theme this year was Whanganui High School’s 29 Below, which was based around the 29 Pike River Miners who went to work and never returned home. Whanganui subsequently and deservedly won 1st Place in Palmerston North’s Open Division.

Design Judge, Damian Thorne added to this, saying, “Whanganui gave a strong, clever viewpoint on a very serious subject. The Pike River families would be so proud.”

Production Judge, Del Costello, was equally as impressed, declaring, “Whanganui had an extremely thoughtful and powerful perspective on this story – it blew me away!” What a reception!

Not only does Stage Challenge showcase great performers, but it proves that New Zealand’s youth have fantastic awareness of current and important world events. These Stage Challengers aren’t afraid to stand up and shed light on powerful issues to packed audiences at some of New Zealand’s premier venues.

Stage Challenge really is an event like no other. Everyone – from those in the big cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, to the spirited small towns of Invercargill, Whangarei and Palmerston North – has the rare opportunity to participate in an exhilarating live event. This opportunity creates life-long memories and is the platform for a young person’s development of confidence, resilience and self-esteem.

All the performers, choreographers, backstage crew and teachers should be incredibly proud of themselves. Stage Challenge 2016 set the bar nice and high for next year’s participants. In saying that, we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings and know everyone involved will be more than up for the challenge!


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Stage Challenge® involves dancers, actors, performers, lighting liaisons, teachers, set and design crew and make-up teams. There’s an opportunity for everyone of all different backgrounds to let their talent shine on and off the stage.