Jaz takes on mum’s role

Date published: July 22, 2014 at 10:10 am | Comments

When Emily Rua-Bennett stepped on the stage at Kawerau College to play Sandra Dee in Grease, she never thought that her daughter would be up on the same stage, playing the same role 25 years later.

This August, Tarawera High School is staging a revival of Grease, which was first staged in town 25 years ago in the Kawerau College assembly hall.

Kawerau College was recently merged with the intermediate school and became Tarawera High School, and although new facilities are being built for the school many of the old Kawerau College buildings are still in use, including the assembly hall.

This year’s production is to be the last one staged in the old hall, and the performing arts faculty felt it was only appropriate to make that show a revival of one of the productions from the school’s history. But what they didn’t realise at first, was the Year 13 student they cast as Sandra Dee, Jazmine Wiremu, was the daughter of the Sandra Dee from that first performance.

“We looked at a few different shows to do this year, Grease was one of them,” said the show’s Drama Director, Antony Pritchard.

“But when we found out it had been done here 25 years ago, and since it was the last show to be done in this hall, there was no other option.”

It wasn’t until the school principal, Helen Tuhoro saw the cast list that the show’s directors realised the coincidental casting.

“Jaz hadn’t mentioned it, I don’t think she wanted to put it in our minds. She’s been really good about it,” Pritchard said.

Even Jazmine and her mother were a bit surprised at how things turned out, only making the connection when Jazmine told Emily that she’d been cast.

“When Jaz got the role, it brought back a massive flood of memories. We never planned it this way, to have her playing the same role only two years older than I was. Thinking about all those years ago, not knowing what the future had in store, to be able to still be here in Kawerau and see her play the same role. Pride is the only word I can think of.”

Many things have changed over the years. The primary school Emily Rua-Bennett went to, Kawerau Central, is gone, Kawerau Intermediate is gone, and Kawerau College has become Tarawera High School.

But the stage is still the same, the show is the same, the kids still get nervous and the parents are still proud. Only this time, Emily gets to be the parent and watch her daughter
“make her own memories that she can look back on in 25 years”.

“It was something that I was really proud of, now Jazmine’s doing the same thing and giving it a go,” she said.

Grease will be playing on Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2, at the Tarawera High School Hall. Tickets will be available at the door.

Source: Whakatane News