Rock opera that has New Zealand culture at its heart

It’s not often that a bells and whistles musical centres around a uniquely New Zealand story.

Featuring a staggering 26 original songs and a cast of 11 incredible performers, the story centres around the life and times of a typical, hard-working Kiwi and his family. The show tracks the challenges of approaching middle age complete with job loss, marriage breakup, and poor mental health as a result of all life has to serve up. It’s a story most of us can relate to and while it’s full of celebration, comedy and love, it also explores the impact that the ‘black dog’ can have on the whole family.

Composer and Executive Producer Chris Williams wrote the music, lyrics and dialogue for this very Kiwi-centred musical in direct response to watching friends and families struggle with, and relish, life after 40. A talented and passionate artist, Williams wants audiences to have both a great night out at the theatre and to spark conversations about how important communication is in our communities. “I wrote this musical to respond to contemporary New Zealand life. I want to give audiences a reminder about what really matters; the dangers of not facing up to depression and a celebration of the every day,” says Williams.

State Highway 48 has been buzzing around the North Island since 2016. Audiences and critics have been raving about it ever since. It boasts some of our very finest musical talents including New Zealand’s own West End diva – Delia Hannah. “Delia is amazing,” says Williams. “She was cast by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the UK tour of Aspects of Love, and has toured Australia and Asia extensively, starring in all the big shows including Mamma Mia!, Cats, Chess, Blood Brothers and Disney’s production of Mary Poppins. Delia will be joined by an excellent cast of seasoned local performers.”

Creative Producer Rachael Penman is excited about how musicals like this can not only deliver excellent entertainment but also have the power to instigate change. “I saw the international potential in this show when I saw the 206 version,” says Penman. “On top of that I know it has the potential to get people talking, particularly men who are very good at staying quiet.”

State Highway 48 has it all – a powerful message, relatable story, phenomenal cast and a full gamut of sensational original music. So, what are you waiting for?

State Highway 48 will be showing at Bruce Mason Centre from 15-19 October. For more information, please visit


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