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Hottest happenings


There are some exciting things on the horizon as the inner city comes back to life. Nicholas Henare checks out some of spring’s finest.

 

 

The Riverside Market is opening on 30 September, just in time for spring, and is set to become the centre of food and activity in the city; a place where the people of Canterbury can come together and celebrate our amazing city and enjoy an incredible collection of local businesses. There’s a slice of the amazing cultures that make up our Canterbury community with flavours from around the world, including Argentinean, Greek, Chinese, French, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, Turkish, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Turkish. There’s also a fantastic selection of local businesses in the surrounding laneways ranging from gifts and fashion to streetwear and tattoos!

 

Photography by Nay Hauss

 

One event close to my heart is Hard-ly Speaking. An event aimed at changing the conversation for men in Ōtautahi, the format is simple: over the course of the evening, six diverse men speak for four minutes each. There are no hard and fast rules – just a unifying belief in the value of celebrating honesty and vulnerability, and of course, locally provided eats and drinks in an epic location. The last event saw men sharing a frank discussion about topics that we often shelve due to their sensitivity. The event is on at Christchurch BMW, 104 Moorhouse Avenue, this Thursday 19 September from 6pm to 8pm. Tickets are $55 and worth every cent. Guest speakers are Tyla Harrison Hunt, Isaac Gieson, Colin Mansbridge, Trevor Hone, Mike Brown and Gary Moore.

 

Photography by Malia Rose Photography

 

On Thursday 24 October, a fine selection of North Canterbury wineries from across the region are coming to the Christchurch Town Hall for the annual Taste North Canterbury – a springtime extravaganza celebrating the best of locally grown drops. Head along to experience incredible wine, delicious artisan eats, top notch tunes from local DJs and a whole lot of fun – get hyped on being part of New Zealand’s coolest little wine region! This awesome event is a great way to support local producers and get a taste of the beautiful wine being made right on our doorstep. Taste North Canterbury is for everyone – serious wine fanatics, foodies, and people who get buzzed on local experiences! From 5pm to 8pm at The Limes Room, Christchurch Town Hall. Tickets $49.

 

 

Born to Perform: Q&A with Ali Harper


Local award-winning talent Ali Harper has been wowing the crowds for years. We caught up with the lovely lady behind the microphone about being born to perform.

 

 

When did a life of performance first beckon, Ali?
Like many children, I was constantly role playing, always singing. I set up the ‘Fitzgerald Stationery Shop’ in my wardrobe, and the ‘Harper’s Bizarre Fabric Store’ which sold my mother’s leftover sewing remnants. All sorts of imaginary characters visited those shops! Then I found out I could take those characters, continue ‘playing’ and make it my full-time job.


In 2014 you were artist-in-residence at your former school Rangi Ruru. Teaching young women to grow their performance confidence must have been a wonderful experience?
I really enjoy working with young people – encouraging them to explore and delight in the total abandonment that comes through singing, movement and storytelling. We live in a society so caught up in what we do, what we look like, and worrying what others think. I want to impart that we’re all unique; there’s no-one else like us. I want our young people to embrace and celebrate that.


You won the Actress of the Year Award at the United Solo Festival 2014 in New York, and at the same festival, in 2019, won the Best One Woman Show Award for your Songs for Nobodies – how did that feel?
The Arts is not the easiest of career paths, so it’s wonderful to be recognised for the risks you take, on and off the stage.


Any favourite roles?
I’ve loved so many. Eliza Doolittle and Maria Von Trapp were a delight, while Mrs Johnston in Blood Brothers was a dream role. Songs for Nobodies was like a personal coming of age…celebrating being old enough to draw from a wealth of life’s highs and lows to play the often tortured ‘nobodies’ and ‘somebodies.’


Is there a “baddie” woman you’d relish bringing to life on stage or screen?
I’ve been watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. The lead baddie is Count Olaf, but I’d love to play that role as a woman, taking on the many disguises and accents. Mean, convincing, greedy… my boys would be so impressed!


You’re currently touring your solo show, A Doris Day Special, around New Zealand. What do you love about Doris Day?
Doris sang and danced with total joy and abandonment. Her life was often difficult, but it never defined her as a person. She retired early to commit her life to saving neglected animals. She was optimistic, kind and genuine – all qualities I greatly admire.


Which world-renowned venue would you love to perform in, if you could?
I saw Audra Macdonald singing with the San Francisco Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall last year. Fabulous! I kept looking at the elite New Yorkers’ in their box seats and imagined walking out onto that stage to take my place in front of that orchestra… pure joy!


Tell us about the importance of yoga in your life?
I realise more and more the importance of yoga not only in my life but for those around me. To take time out for yourself, to connect deep within, to listen and trust your intuition, cultivate self-love and, most importantly, breathe fully and deeply. When we align these things, it’s amazing how they impact so positively on so many other areas in our lives.

Recently I did my yoga teacher training in Thailand. It was a life-changing experience, and now I’m so fortunate to be balancing my life, teaching and sharing my passion for yoga, meditation and singing, as well as at home with my singing and acting students.


When not performing, MCing, producing, writing, teaching or doing yoga, what do you do for time out?
I have busy young boys and a daughter at uni, so time out is rather scarce, yet when I really think on it, the things I choose to do in my life are time out, because they’re what I’m passionate about.

 

 

Photography by Simon Greenwood from Canterbury Tales. Hair and makeup by Sarah Greenwood Buchanan at TheatricalStylistNZ.


 

Award-winning artist honours Doris Day


Popular local performer Ali Harper is bringing her show A Doris Day Special back to Christchurch to honour and celebrate Doris Day since her death in March at the age of 97.

 

 

Portraying the Hollywood icon herself, Christchurch entertainer Ali Harper will sing many of the great hit songs that made Doris Day famous, while providing a glimpse into a life that was not always filled with sunshine and daisies. “She could be all sunshine and pure joy on camera and yet her life was full of torment and sadness,” Ali says.

“This, for me, shows what an incredibly brave and empowering woman she was, that the tragedies in her life did not define her.”

In 2016, Ali went with her Director Stephanie McKellar-Smith to Carmel by the Sea in America to celebrate Doris’s 94th birthday and sung one of her most famous songs, Secret Love. Doris’s immediate response was “Wow! You sound good! Oh my gosh. You make that song sound really, so good.”

A Doris Day Special has toured to numerous cities around New Zealand to much acclaim and now it’s time to get back on the road as a way to honour and celebrate one of the greatest entertainers of our time.

The Ashburton show is on Thursday 15 August at 7:30pm, book at www.ticketdirect.co.nz. This is followed by a Christchurch show on Saturday 24 August at 2pm and 7:30pm at The Piano Centre for Music and the Arts, book through The Court Theatre, 0800 333 100 or www.courttheatre.org.nz.