Village News

Bringing some razzmatazz to Bayswater

Bringing some razzmatazz to Bayswater

From dancing, singing and acting to choreographing and directing – when it comes to the theatre there’s not much Bayswater resident Shirley Paul hasn’t done.

Born in England

Shirley launched her creative career more than 60 years ago, performing as a child dancer in top British pantomimes. She later lived in India and the Seychelles (where she enjoyed a stint teaching English folk dancing and singing) before immigrating to New Zealand in 1969.

My husband set up a doctor’s practice in Maungaturoto and we lived there for 20 years. When we first arrived, I became friends with a small group of highly talented and qualified performers who lived in the area. Together we poured a lot of energy into developing dramatic arts in the region,” says Shirley, who is also a qualified nurse.

Thanks to their efforts, the Otamatea repertory theatre was built (and officially opened by Governor-General Sir David Beattie) and drama began flourishing in Whangarei too.

The money for the theatre was raised locally, and it was built by locals in a real pioneering spirit. It was truly remarkable. I was choreographing one major show and several smaller ones each year and also directing some of them, and people were coming from near and far to take part.”

Over the years Shirley starred in a number of renowned musicals

Her personal highlights include playing Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, Maria in The Sound of Music, and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls – all in Northland.

Shirley and her husband moved to Tauranga in 1990, and although she went back to nursing, she continued to perform at Tauranga Musical Theatre, 16th Ave Theatre and in the Civic Choir. Since moving into Bayswater in 2011, Shirley has played a pivotal role in building the village’s reputation as one of the country’s most theatrical retirement villages.

The creative arts have grown so much at Bayswater over the years thanks to our enthusiastic entertainment committee and a lot of incredibly talented residents. We put on a major performance each year, plus several smaller ones – from singing and poetry recitals to musicals. We have our own stage, make all our own costumes, and have fantastic lighting effects.

We also have incredible support from the village social coordinator Sam Martin, who works tirelessly to help bring our performances to life.”

The benefits are far-reaching

Dramatic arts at Bayswater is very inclusive and there are opportunities for any residents who want to be involved, both on and off stage. It’s great for confidence building and socialisation and even health – learning scripts boosts memory, focusing on director’s instructions improves listening skills, and practicing elongating notes when singing improves breathing. Best of all, having the opportunity to be involved gives residents a real sense of achievement.”

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