New Zealand Law Society - Thriving on the theatre

Thriving on the theatre

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While Commerce Commission assistant investigator Jade David Neale might sport a suit and deal with legal matters by day it's the stage and theatre camaraderie where he thrives.

After moving around the country during his childhood, he set up camp in Wellington to study law and commerce at Victoria University. Despite a fleeting desire to become a chef as a result of a love of cooking, his business-savvy nature put him in good stead for a career in law.

He recalls a time where he set up a "hilarious business venture" while attending high school in Rotorua where he delivered motivational seminars at various hotels throughout the region.

Photo of Jade David Neale
Jade David Neale

"I suppose we didn't have the right target market but I found my sense of business and I wanted to continue along that trajectory."

Although he's been at the Commerce Commission which serves as "the competition and consumer watchdog of New Zealand's business environment" for three years come November, this year also marks his seventh year participating in the Victoria University Law Revue – an annual show where 30-odd legally inclined people come together to create and perform a two-hour variety show that includes skits, a main storyline, dancing and singing.

He's worked through various executive roles, including musical director in 2009 and executive director in 2014 and again in 2015.

"Law Revue is really something out of the ordinary. You don't think of law students or legal enthusiasts to be thespians – but in the seven years I've done it I've found they're the most weird and wacky extraordinary characters.

"It's a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. You're not only performing with your colleagues, you're performing with people you will befriend for life.


"As a medium, Law Revue requires hard work, but it also facilitates inclusion and camaraderie. Sure you've got the boys in back who can't dance but that provides a platform for spectacular laughs and they love it."

The key to Jade's Law Revue success is business, he says, where he made a conscious decision to employ a business model.

"There's the creative writing and skit-making process – which gives the cast ownership – let alone the fact that I'm absolutely rubbish at writing skits. The executive, of course, serves the management-like function and we had to ensure we had sponsors and that they were happy.

"Ultimately we're making a product and so there's always a variety of humour and skits to accommodate all types.

"It's so rewarding to stand in the wings – although I'm forever barking at everyone telling them not to – and to see a theatre of 300 people enjoying jokes that wouldn't be necessarily appropriate in a workplace. Sometimes those jokes spill into my workplace. Suffice to say they don't love it."


Jade's passion for theatre started after his mother, a dancer and choreographer, came home one day when he was 14 and asked for his help to fill the "man-drought void" and participate in a play called Love on the Ocean Wave.

Although the "cheesy love story based on a cruise ship" didn't inspire him necessarily, he says, it was the music from the 30s and 40s era that spurred a love of musical theatre and classical music.

"I never had any singing or dancing training. I've never had that privilege but I've always had a great passion for it. I suppose I've always had a good ear and I remember coming home from school and emulating whatever I would listen to. I started as a baritone and pushed my voice gradually until I realised I was a tenor at age 18.

This year Jade bids farewell to his executive director role, and while he assures the Revue is "in safe hands" he has entertained the prospect of auditioning for the 2016 edition because he "can't get enough of it". Otherwise he will offer his consulting services, he says.

"I don't think I've ever entertained the prospect of giving up law and doing theatre professionally. Unless I were to win lotto and spend copious amounts of money getting professional music and dance lessons, my passion for theatre serves as a wonderful hobby that I love and it complements the seriousness of my ambitions.

"It's something to do. Otherwise I'd be sitting at home dithering my life away or doing something mundane like training for the Olympics."

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