For the past 25 years, Daniel Martin has not missed a production of the Oamaru Musical Theater.
Since the age of 11, Mr. Martin has participated, in one way or another, in all the shows in his hometown. If he wasn’t on stage, he helped out backstage or in front of the house, and even helped with lighting, production management, and direction.
Last month, his contribution to society and the musical theater community was recognized at the annual meeting of Musical Theater New Zealand (MTNZ), when he was announced as the recipient of an MTNZ Award of Merit.
Mr Martin (36) had no idea he had been nominated by his fellow committee members and was speechless when his name was read out as part of the live meeting.
His first taste of musical theater was in 1997, when he auditioned for the Wizard of Oz. His older sister was auditioning and his mother encouraged him to give it a try as well.
“I didn’t really have a choice – you know how moms are,” he said.
He was cast as Munchkin, loved the experience – and ”it was the start of my life, really”.
”I’ve done something on every show since the Wizard of Oz.”
There had been plenty of highlights over the years – and each show was memorable and enjoyable for different reasons. Corn Catsin 2009, Wretchedin 2010, and Mama Mia!in 2018, were clear favourites.
”Cats still stands out as my favorite show,” he said.
“That was just all. The people who were in the show, we were a group, became very good friends. The show was just fun to do.
Most of his stage roles have been with the company, with the exception of Chicago in 2013 when he played Fred Casely. His biggest roles have been behind the scenes, where he helped direct a theater restaurant production, and served as co-production director for Mamma Mia!.
“I really liked being on stage, but it takes a lot longer, and I’ve really enjoyed being backstage on the last few shows,” he said.
But he still loved being able to make an appearance on stage when the opportunity presented itself.
Mr. Martin’s love of musical theater was about people. The bonds formed at a show were special – and he had lifelong friends through his involvement in society.
“You meet a lot of new people,” he said.
”There are also people from all kinds of different backgrounds. You can have a journalist and a doctor, a lawyer – people you probably wouldn’t normally be friends with.
Mr. Martin works as a supervisor at the Alliance Pukeuri butcher shop, and is also an avid sportsman. Cricket takes up its Saturdays in the summer, as does football in the winter, but it has always made time for musical theatre.
“That makes it pretty busy, but you fit it in, and then when the show is over, you’re like, ‘How the hell did I have time for all that?’.”
The President of Musical Theater Oamaru, Melissa Yockney, was delighted that Mr Martin had been recognized for his contribution to society over the past 25 years.
Whether it was packing or going out, organizing the bar of a theater restaurant or attending the weekly Sunday screenings, Mr. Martin could always be counted on to offer a helping hand, a said Miss Yockney.
“Daniel may be many things to many people, but to us he’s synonymous with all things theatrical, and our society wouldn’t be the same without him.”
In 2009, he won the Nola Speir Patron Youth Encouragement Award and also joined the Oamaru Musical Theater Committee. He remains a member of the committee to this day, having served as chairman for five years. He has also been a strong supporter of the society’s children’s theater since its inception.
“His ability to encourage and mentor other young people was recognized in this 2009 award and we’re pretty sure Nola Spier would be very proud of all that Daniel has accomplished in the years since,” said Miss Yockney.