22 Jan 2018

Magic touch: Robbie Magasiva & The Naked Samoans

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 22 January 2018

Two decades after their first show, the actors known as the The Naked Samoans are reuniting for what they hope will be a spellbinding performance at the Auckland Arts Festival.

Robbie Magasiva

Robbie Magasiva Photo: John McDermott

Robbie Magasiva has been working on the show, The Naked Samoans Do Magic, since November with the rest of the crew; Dave Fane, Oscar Kightley, Mario Gaoa, Shimpal Lelisi and Heto Ah hi.

"This show is a celebration of the Naked Samoans coming together," says Magasiva.

"It could be the last time we perform together."

In collaboration with Pacific theatre company The Conch, the actors have created a show based on the storyline of the death of their only fan, a Samoan magician, who leaves them a rundown villa, which turns out to be no ordinary building.

"We wanted to create a story that is very Naked Samoans but with the element of magic in it."

Magasiva has had a varied career, including the role of Jack in the 2001 film Stickmen, Will Jackson in Wentworth Prison, Dr Maxwell Avia in Shortland Street, and lovable rogue Michael in the Siones's Wedding films. He has also danced with the Black Grace company.

The acting seed was planted when he performed in front of classmates at primary school in Wellington. "I got up there and did our [skit] and people laughed. I loved it. I don't remember anything else about Strathmore Park school."

He'd considered rugby as as a career, but after getting a part in a commercial as a high school student he was hooked. "As a Kiwi kid you had to play rugby but the acting element was always at the back of my mind, to the point where I said 'Okay I want to do this full time'."

Australian TV series Wentworth Prison has allowed him to work with top Australian women actors and brilliant scripts, he says.

"It's definitely stretched the acting muscle.

"With Wentworth, there's a level you need to be at. If you're not there people can tell. And you can tell yourself.

"That bar is set by those phenomonal female actors, like Danielle Cormack."

Conditions and pay for actors in Australia are better than in New Zealand, he says, but acting standards are pretty much the same. "We've got some phenomenal actors in New Zealand".