Topic: Entertainment

Gisborne lad makes his mark in Billy Elliot the Musical

By Ani-Piki Tuari

The tenor voice of Rutene Spooner from Gisborne has resonated with the Auckland Theatre Company. 

The Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki actor has earned himself a spot in the first ever New Zealand production of Billy Elliot the Musical.

For Spooner, musical theatre is a natural progression in his development as a performer.

He says, “I stumbled into Musical Theatre, I was born into kapa haka. What I really wanted was to find a career similar to kapa haka. Haka has been a huge influence on me, it was the foundation for me in working in this world of musical theatre.”

Spooner moved away from Gisborne 10 years ago to pursue musical theatre at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in Christchurch.

While he loves what he does, it comes at a price.

Spooner says, “One of the tricky things about this industry is not being able to go home or seeing whānau whenever I want.  There’s no holiday pay, there's no time in lieu in this industry, If you don't go to work, then you can't put food on the table.”

The sacrifice has landed him a role in the first ever New Zealand production of Billy Elliot.

“The character I play is Big Davie and he is one of the steerers of the miners’ union and he’s described as having a big heart and caring and quite passionate about what the miners’ union stands for and the strikes and the picketing and all that sort of stuff.”

Regardless of his absence from home, he recently re-joined the haka ranks with the aim of giving back.

He says, “I will continue to try and share where I can when I can.

I'm lucky enough to return home and teach the skills I have learnt.”

“We're really lucky in the East Coast because we got a lot of talent a lot of raw talent and If I can be in anyway able to steer that and to show them anei he ara mōu then I will.”

Spooner will feature alongside Māori actors Tia Ormsby, Jason Te Kare and Rima Te Wiata when the musical premieres at the ASB Waterfront Theatre next month.

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