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Mitchell FarrMitchell Farr has grown up with the Big Little Theatre Company, and is now preparing for its latest show. Photo Susan SandysBig Little Theatre Company long-time members Mitchell Farr and Elise Heffernan are among actors preparing for the powerful musical Children of Eden opening on Friday.

The pair, aged 16 and 15 respectively, have both been with the company for more than half their young lives – nine years each – and have developed into strong performers along the way.

In the first part of the show, Mitchell will play Cain in Children of Eden, an angry young man who feels he and his family were unjustly banished to the wilderness. He resembles his mother, Eve, to be played by Elise, who was banished forever from the Garden of Eden, because she too wanted to ask questions of life and had a desire for knowledge.

The show’s script is based on the Book of Genesis and depicts human struggle as the characters are torn between life choices.

In the second half of the show, Mitchell will play Noah, while Elise will play Yonah, a daughter of Cain.

Big Little director Jackie Heffernan said Children of Eden, which premiered in the West End in London in 1991, provided a challenge and created opportunities for in-depth acting and singing.

And it was a challenge her young actors, including Mitchell and Elise, were rising to.

Their acting background encompassed appearing in the company’s earliest shows and Mitchell was the first child the company ever “flew”, appearing from the rafters as Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The pair had acted together in examination drama, attaining Exhibition Awards from Trinity College London two years in a row, for achieving the highest mark internationally.

Both had been part of the ensemble which took King Lear to Court Theatre as part of the company’s winning Sheila Winn Shakespeare in Schools Festival.

Additionally, Mitchell had been awarded a Best Actor award by Theatre New Zealand in last year’s Theatre Fest. “Who knows what lies in store for them in the future.

“They are both extremely humble, hugely rewarding to work with, and it has been a privilege for me to have been a part of their amazing journey so far,” Heffernan said.

Children of Eden is directed by Bryan Aitken and musically directed by Keeneth Love, both of Christchurch, and will stage at the Ashburton Trust Event Centre July 14 to 16.

By Susan Sandys - © The Ashburton Guardian - 11 July 2017

Veronica Wall Maadi photo Steve McArthurAshburton College rowing star Veronica Wall is off to the World Junior Championships. Photo Steve McArthurThe next time Ashburton rower Veronica Wall touches down in New Zealand, there is every chance she could be a world champion.

Yesterday, Wall travelled to Bulgaria alongside her double sculls partner Sydney Johnson and coach Bruce Jones ahead of the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships in Trakai, Lithuania in early August.

While in Bulgaria, the pair will train, before travelling to Lithuania on July 24 to meet with the rest of the New Zealand team before the championships start on August 2.

“We are just going to take it how it goes and hopefully we will improve on last year,” said Wall.

“I’m feeling good at the moment so we are just being hopeful.”

Wall has spent the past two months training in Cambridge with New Zealand rowing, training up to 10 times per week, and only getting Thursday morning, Saturday afternoons and Sunday off.

“It is a great experience, just from last year it is really cool,” she said.

“There is definitely a language barrier, we don’t socialise much with the other countries.

“It is interesting to compete at an international level and sort of get an idea of what is out there.”

The selection comes off the back of yet another dominant performance at the Maadi Cup, where Wall won four medals.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 10 July 2017

Ashburton College basketballAshburton College’s Josh Lowe was a huge performer in his side’s 77-58 win against Christchurch Boys’ High School on Thursday, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Photo Jaime Pitt-MacKayThe Ashburton College senior boys’ basketball team continued its push for a top four spot in the Thompson Trophy competition on Thursday night with a 77-58 win over Christchurch Boys’ High School.

College sits fifth on the ladder with one game to go before quarter-finals but a home game at that stage of the competition could rest on the outcome of other match-ups in the last round on August 1.

Both the Thompson Trophy and Whelan Trophy competition for girls take a break over the school holidays.

College coach Pip Johnston said his side got off to a great start against CBHS on Thursday night and was able to control the tempo of the game well. College led 22-8 at the first quarter and 38-31 at half-time.

“Boys high put the pressure on us in the second quarter but we were able to hold our own and stay calm. The fourth quarter was a great quarter for us and it showed in the final result.”

College held a slender six-point lead after the third quarter, up 53-47, but outscored their city hosts 24-11 in the final stanza.

“It was great to see the boys all playing for each other. Josh Lowe had a huge game with 28 points and 15 rebounds. He’s been working really hard and it showed he can dominate in this competition. Everybody that got on showed me that they deserved to be out there.”

The College boys and girls will return in term three with an additional focus – the South Island Secondary Schools’ Premierships are in Dunedin early September with the top six finishers qualifying for the nationals.

© The Ashburton Guardian - 8 July 2017