School’s out for musicals

Gobsmacked Productions creator Patrice Patel. Photo: John Borren.

Gobsmacked Productions aims to take the hassle out of shows for primary schools and literally gobsmack the audience.

Patrice Patel created the unique business that manages musicals in schools to combine her love of performing arts and primary teacher experience.

She taught in London for two years before getting a job as a performing arts director for an international school in Cairo, where her job was to create original musicals for the kids.

Getting 2000 kids up on stage each year gave her the confidence to make a business out of it, so she started writing original scripts and songs in preparation for her return to New Zealand

Patrice laughs about how the kids there performed her musical of Captain Cook discovering New Zealand.

Six years ago she started Gobsmacked Productions in Tauranga and she has just completed her 20th show with the children from Omokoroa No1 School.

'I can't believe I've reached 20, I never thought I'd get there.”

At first it was a hard market to crack because New Zealand has a DIY culture and primary schools traditionally do their own shows, she says.

Being a teacher, she understands the workload and Gobsmacked takes the pressure off teachers and produces a high-quality musical in five weeks, says Patrice.

All of her 11 original musicals have 11 original songs with custom costumes and sets so schools just need to book Patrice in and set aside time for children to learn their parts - every child in the school is involved.

The most satisfying thing about her job is working with children and sparking their passion for performing arts.

'It's just such a rewarding job because these children have so much more belief in themselves after a production.”

The 32-year-old says growing her business has taken a lot of hard slog and she has grown personally along with it.

'I've surprised myself with how much I've actually achieved and can actually handle.”

The business is now big enough that she has had to hire another team member, Kaitlyn Weaver, to run some of the musicals.

Patrice currently works with 12 schools and has plans to expand with Kaitlyn able to take on more schools.

She has started a holiday progamme and also wants to crack the Rotorua market with one school from there already booked for next year.

Her advice for aspiring business owners is the same she gives to the kids, work hard because nothing comes easy in life.


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