Catching up with State Highway 48 star: Jenn Shelton!

With the locally produced State Highway 48 show hitting the Bruce Mason Centre stage this month, we caught up with one of it's local stars Jenn Shelton!

Jenn portrays the character Helen – the mover and shaker in the lead character Dave’s business who throws a spanner in the works for him. Jenn is a performer who is known for her powerhouse vocal ability with her unique, soulful tone.

Read on below to find out a little more about Jenn, State Highway 48 and why everyone should make a night of it and catch it at the Bruce Mason Centre!


  1. Tell us a bit about YOU?
    I'm Jenn Shelton, I was born in Wellington, and was lucky enough to go to a very musical high school (Tawa College) with a fantastic music department, so I was heavily involved in choirs and musical groups growing up. Outside of school I entered and won a lot of singing competitions and was encouraged to sing Jazz, Soul and Pop music which has made me a very versatile singer. For my entire life, all I ever wanted to do was sing - and get everyone else to sing! I have sung throughout the country and overseas, from arenas to small intimate performances, on television, in high schools, and in big musical theatre productions. Alongside this, I have been a vocal coach full time for over 10 years. Singing IS the business!
  2. What do you love most about living, working and performing in Takapuna?
    Takapuna has EVERYTHING! I've always wanted to live in Takapuna, and moving here at the beginning of the year was a great decision. I have just come off a big musical production at the Bruce Mason Centre ~ Queen and Ben Elton's hit musical 'We Will Rock You', and it was a real eye opener to me that I could have the best of all that life offers living here. Strolling the beach during the day, picking up a nice coffee / smoothie at the water front, and performing at night!  It's sort of a surreal feeling when you finish a show like that, and then pop into the supermarket on your way home... you wonder what everyone else has been up to in their evenings!
  3. Tell us about the show – what is it about and why should people see it?
    State Highway 48 is a story of a family who is ripped apart by depression and the problems we face as a community around mental illness. It is not just the person who suffers, but everyone who is connected - and we are ALL connected. State Highway 48 is a 'real life' show. It's not flashy, or complicated. But it is confronting, and exposing, and it makes you really think how we all effect and influence each other. The story in the lyrics of this musical really opens conversation for us all around depression and day to day struggles that we all experience, which I think it very relevant and important in our country, or perhaps just in the human race. 
  4. What does it mean to you, to be a part of a show like this?
    I have been a part of several theatre and musical projects that aim to decrease stigma and discrimination around mental health. Personally I suffer from depression and have PTSD, so it's close to my heart that we TALK about it. We are losing people every day, and I think we have a responsibility as a community to address how we relate to people and how we treat each other. This show offers real and raw themes, but it also offers hope and kindness, forgiveness and courage. So I am proud to be a part of a creative piece of work that will impact peoples hearts, in the way they conduct their lives or even simply, just open conversation with their family and friends.  
  5. What’s your favourite scene or thing about the show?
    It may sound strange, but my favourite thing about State Highway 48 is the Mess. There are scenes that so perfectly capture, what goes on in relationships and in families behind closed doors and I think it's just healing in itself for the audience to experience theatre like this - that people can genuinely relate to, and feel connected to. It bridges the gap between the 'us and them', especially in relation to depression and mental illness in families.
  6. If there is one big message that people should get from the show, what would that be?
    HOPE. Knowing you're not alone in your feelings, and in the hardships you're facing. It so beautifully demonstrates just how important it is to stay connected and to reach out to people. 

    As a side note, I think people will be absolutely blown away by the talent in this show. There is not a single person been cast in this run of the show that isn't exceptionally talented. I hear a LOT of singing in my job, but these lovely humans are something else. There are stories of their own inside those voices. It's very moving in and of it's own. 


Big thanks to Jenn for taking the time to catch up with us and give us a bit of insight to who she is and the wonderful show she is a part of.

We are defintiely excited to see the show, so make sure you do too! Check out the show details and ticket information on the Bruce Mason Website.