Dean Hewison

Ever get a catchy ad tune stuck in your head? Then prepare yourself for 20 of them…! After an award-winning season in Wellington, Jingles - The Musical will thrill Auckland audiences with a reinterpretation of classic New Zealand ad melodies – telling a hilarious story of a small-town girl perched on the edge of stardom. Jingles will be performing at Basement Theatre, Auckland from 6 June to 17 June 2017.  

We caught up with the writer and director of the show, Dean Hewison.

Where did the idea for Jingles come from? 

I watched my fair share of TV when I was growing up, and there wasn't any way to fast-forward through the ad breaks so I've always had these jingles etched into my brain, and occasionally busting into song at the dinner table or traffic lights. So I was looking for a way to utilise them - perhaps a 30 minute one-off performance at a whiskey bar or something - but my wife suggested a musical might be a more satisfying angle, and she was right.

Was the storyline decided on before the Jingles were chosen? 

Not really - the jingles helped shape the story. I had a big wish-list of jingles that I was planning to try to wedge in, and thinking about how to use them was really useful in working out the journey. I did start with the idea that our hero Wella McDonald would be from a small farming community called Rainbow's End and was trying to make it in the big city, because that's a tried-and-true musical storyline that I knew I would enjoy messing with. 

With so many classic Jingles around, was it hard finalising the ones that would be used? 

It was hard to stop adding them! We'd come up with new ideas in rehearsal of how we could incorporate jingles that were missing, and so our musical arranger Amand would get a late night phone call asking if he could add Bournvita "Better By Far" or Sanitarium "So Good". That's still happening, actually - we added in a new jingle to open the show for the Auckland season. It's a real goodie, I'm shocked we didn't have it last time. 

Did you have to get permission from each company? I guess some of the companies might not even be around anymore? 

I've gone through APRA to try to make sure the composers are acknowledged and compensated, but a couple of multi-national companies might not so keen on how we've recontextualised their 30 year old jingles, so we figured we'd ask for forgiveness instead. 

What’s your favourite Jingle? 

It's hard to choose just one, but I think Kiwiburger, Utter Peanut Butter Nutter, TV3's "Come Home to the Feeling" and McDonalds "Make the Most of Every Moment" are the ones I love the most. In that order.

How have the rehearsals been going? 

Great - I've been very lucky to have Carrie Green back in the cast from the Wellington season, and to have two really talented triple-threats (Paul Williams and Jessie Lawrence) taking up the reins from the cast that couldn't make it for this season. 

Is there a good camaraderie with the cast and crew? 

There is, it's been cool. Carrie and I didn't know Paul and Jessie before, so you don't know how that dynamic is going to work, but thankfully Jessie is insane and Paul is a stone-cold killer, so they fit right in.

Following the Jingles run, what do you have next on the agenda? 

I'm going to write the third draft of a feature film called "Everyone Dies!", which is an expansion of a short film called "Judgment Tavern" that I made with my daughter Nova playing a young girl carrying round her dad's living head as they search for his body. I'm also writing a comedy-caper film with my friend Richard called "Tough Crowd", about a stand-up comedian who gets on the wrong side of some meth-cooks which we'd love to shoot next year. 


Jun 6 - 17: Basement Theatre, Auckland

Tickets via iTicket