Award-winning children’s author, Pamela Allen’s stories are brought to life for New Zealand audiences in Mr McGee and the Biting Flea. Emerging from dozens of suitcases and crates, three curious warehouse workers transform a storeroom into an enchanting miracle of music and play.

In Capital E’s first show in their new home at the Hannah Playhouse, Mr McGee and the Biting Flea is a delicious collection of stories set to song. The show is witty, humorous and full of wonderful characters!

I’m liking

Mr McGee is new to New Zealand audiences but it’s been running for a number of years in Australia – and it shows. The show is sharp as a tack, moves at a cracking pace and it’s clearly been honed over time. There are no awkward gaps – just a racingly good show.

The performers, Whitney Channings, Jack Buchanan and Tom Knowles moved effortlessly between a massive range of characters and vocal styles. And they were all great! It’s a challenging script but Channings, Buchanan and Knowles thoroughly capture each character and story with their tight harmonies and total engagement. There was certainly no weakness in this cast but I found myself particularly drawn to Tom Knowles and his larger than life presence. (And they were thoroughly nice people as well!).

The show tells six of Allen’s popular stories and each is different in style but held together beautifully by the thoughtful set and costume design. You’ll particularly love Belinda the cow!

Things that made me go hmmmm

The story that resonated least with me was Alexander – which is set in Sydney. Whilst it was still magic to watch, I suspect that Australian audiences would respond more to this story and its very specific location. Having said this, my 5 year old claimed Alexander as one of her favourite stories – so it obviously didn’t bother her!

This show and the director both originate from Australia and some of the characters in the show spoke with Australian accents. I wasn’t quite clear why these were chosen for some of the characters and at times, I found it a little discombobulating… a trivial detail, really, though.

The conclusion

I maintain that Capital E is a national treasure. The good folk of Capital E consistently produce top-notch theatre for kids and their families and Mr McGee and the Biting Flea is another example of this. The show is going on tour soon so do watch out for it in your town.

PS If (like me) you’re not already aware of Allen’s writing, I highly recommend reading them before you head along – I’m sure you’ll laugh even more!

Mr McGee and the Biting Flea is playing at the Hannah Playhouse in Wellington until Saturday the 3rd of May.


Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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