Wednesday, 26 February 2020


A Night of Broadway Divas and Dance broke the $160,000 ceiling for the X ray machine

A Night of Broadway Divas and Dance broke the $160,000 ceiling for the X ray machine

“For $25, this is the bargain of the century,” said Whitianga’s Gordon Barnaby during the first intermission at last Saturday evening’s A Night of Broadway, Divas and Dance show at the Mercury Bay Club. All proceeds of the show are to go to the Whitianga Lions Project Committee’s campaign for a Mercury Bay X-ray machine. Gordon was one of many Lions who attended the evening with their wives and family members.
Petra (my lovely wife) and I bought tickets to the evening to support the X-ray machine.
I didn’t really know what to expect. The two star attractions, singer Emilie Harwood and dancer Chris Olwage are up-and-coming and I, admittedly, know more about Super XV rugby than music.
It was my intention to report on the show in the same way I normally do with community events - a headline, a photo and a caption saying approximately how many people attended and a comment or two from the organisers.
But hearing Gordon talk about the ticket price being a bargain, my intention was out of the window. I was going to do a proper piece of editorial and, in any event not knowing much about what is and what isn’t allowed in journalism, I was going to do it in the first person. I just had to be personal about the event.
By the first intermission we’ve heard Emilie sing Broadway hits ranging from New York New York to Edelweiss, we’ve heard local Mercury Bay Player, Jenny Jackman sing Can’t Help Loving That Man and we’ve seen Chris dance Stravinsky’s Firebird on points. I was captivated. Emilie’s singing made all these emotions welling up in me. And Chris did things I didn’t think was humanly possible.
I couldn’t wait for the second part to get going.
And what a second part it was. Supported with more songs from Jenny and fellow Mercury Bay Players, Peter Lawrence and Karen Carole, Emilie sang Whitney Houston, Shirley Bassey,
Lady Gagga, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain and Celine Dion and Chris danced Black Swan and Don Quixote (with a little help from Lisa Jurakovich, another very talented dancer), again on points.
Towards the end of the second part, Anchorage Motel owner and Mercury Bay Museum curator, Ron Morgan, asked master of ceremonies and show organiser, New Zealand Encounter’s David Hall, if he may say something.
And he echoed Gordon’s sentiment - $25 for a ticket to the show was a steal. Surely people would be willing to give a bit more to the X-ray machine if a bucket was passed around. And then he led the way by dropping $100 into the bucket. That was followed by David announcing that ticket and programme sales raised $5,870 for the machine. And 15 minutes or so later that was followed with an announcement that Ron’s bucket, with a bit of prompting from some very persistent Mercury Bay Club committee members, raised a further $1,063. That was followed by Whitianga Lions’ Project Committee chairman, Malcolm Brown, asking David to announce that the X-ray machine fund has broken through the $160,000 mark.
That announcement energised pretty much everyone to take to the dance floor. Emilie was joined by her equally talented brother, Chris Harwood, on stage and when Petra and I left 30 minutes or so later to relieve our babysitter, the two were still going all-out and the dance floor was still packed.
Before we left, I saw Malcolm taking some time out. I thought to have a quick chat to him about the evening. What I found was a man overcome by emotion - completely stunned by the generosity of a community who totally and utterly embraced an idea he and his fellow project committee members had.
Walking out the door of the Mercury Bay Club last Saturday night, my lovely wife by my side, I attempted to get my thoughts, my impressions, in some sort of order. This is what I came up with -
If David Hall organises a charity do, don’t miss it. It will run flawlessly and it will be entertainment of the highest calibre.
Emilie Harwood is absolutely brilliant.
Chris Olwage is absolutely brilliant.
The Mercury Bay Players are absolutely brilliant.
The Lions lead by example.
Not only do they ask the community to support the X-ray machine, they also, more often than many other people,
put their own hands in their own pockets to make the X-ray machine happen.
Malcolm Brown and his team deserve the freedom of the town.
The Mercury Bay community is extraordinary. Not four months into it (remember the Lions’ Project Committee announced in The Informer of 17 December 2013 they were launching an X-ray machine fundraising campaign) and more than $160,000 is raised. Absolutely unbelievable!   
And yes - $25 for a ticket to the show was a bargain. Even if you dropped four times that in Ron Morgan’s bucket, it still would have been a steal.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.