Archie Hazlett is just as happy scrabbling in the mud for a rugby ball as he is treading the boards.
The St Peter’s School student is not only a top rower and 1st XV rugby player, but also an accomplished musician and actor who is about to hit the stage as the lead character in this year’s senior production, School of Rock.
The talented 17-year-old has been in St Peter’s productions every year since joining the school in 2018 and scored his first major role as the Toymaker in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang last year, earning a Zony New Zealand Musical Theatre Awards nomination for best supporting actor in a youth production.
“When you get out there and people watch you and you’re making them go whoa, that’s pretty cool,” he said.
“On the acting side that’s what makes me drawn to it, exceeding people’s expectations and blowing them away.”
The year 13 student has come up against the stereotype that rugby players don’t do drama loads of times, but calmly kicks it to touch.
“People think, ‘that short, skinny drama kid, he won’t be any good at rugby’ …but there’s no such thing as a drama kid, just a normal kid, to my mind,” he said.
Archie got hooked on music at age five when his parents bought him his first guitar – “that just tapped me in the brain in the right way” – and got into drama at primary school, playing an ugly sister in a Matamata theatre company show, The Princess of Piako.
In School of Rock – which runs from July 29 to August 4 – he plays wannabe rock star Dewey Finn, who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school.
It’s a perfect role for the rock enthusiast, who grew up on a diet of AC/DC, Def Leppard and Black Sabbath and now sings, plays guitar and drums and dabbles in piano.
Standing 1.9m tall, he is the same height on his knees as his co-star Emily McKean, who plays 10-year-old band manager Summer Hathaway.
Emily, 14, believes her small stature may have helped her secure the role, along with her passion for singing and dance.
“I feel like I relate to my character a lot, which makes it easy,” she said.
“She’s a bit of a perfectionist and an organiser. I’m pretty similar to her with her bossiness, but I’m only bossy to my siblings, so I’m really glad that I can bring it out onstage without getting told off.”
Emily joined St Peter’s as a year 7 student in 2020 and had a small role in Camp Rock that year. She was set to perform in Elf Junior last year but it was canned because of Covid.
Performing arts is her “absolute passion in life”.
“It feels like my happy place that I can go to when I’m sad and just let all my feelings go,” she said.