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The best of Broadway: Showbiz Christchurch


Since the opening of the re-built Isaac Theatre Royal, Showbiz Christchurch has exceeded all expectations with a feast of world-class musical theatre. From The Phantom of the Opera in April 2015 to the most recent Miss Saigon, more than 167,000 patrons have experienced the best of Broadway here in Christchurch.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

 

Now 2020 promises a fabulous continuation of the musical journey with three new productions: My Fair Lady, Chess in Concert, and Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story.

My Fair Lady tells the story of Cockney flower-seller Eliza Doolittle and pompous linguistics professor Henry Higgins who wagers he can transform the girl from the Eastend gutters into a genteel Edwardian society lady.

Songs such as Wouldn’t it Be Loverly?, The Rain in Spain, On the Street Where You Live, I Could Have Danced All Night, and Get Me to the Church on Time capture the clash of class, cultures and minds in this charming musical.

When My Fair Lady was first performed in Christchurch in 1962, it set the Theatre Royal record, with a total of 200,000 patrons attending 171 performances!

Showbiz Christchurch brings this stunning new production of My Fair Lady to the Isaac Theatre Royal from 3 April 2020.

The weekend season of Chess in Concert from 19-21 June 2020 features a large onstage chorus and orchestra, with sensational soloists performing international hit singles such as I Know Him So Well, One Night in Bangkok, and the epic ballad Anthem. Set during the Cold War, an American and a Russian chess master become political pawns of their governments as they battle for the world chess title and a woman’s attention.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story opens in September 2020 at the Isaac Theatre Royal. Set during the 1950s when Buddy was the world’s top recording artist, this rock n roll musical features his greatest hits, including Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Oh Boy, Rave On and Raining in my Heart, and will have audiences on their feet and grooving in the aisles.

Season earlybird discounts on sale from Monday 25 November. For tickets, visit www.ticketek.co.nz/showbiz. Freephone 0800 842 538 or 03 260 5260 Ticketek Box Office at Isaac Theatre Royal, 145 Gloucester Street. Open Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm.

 


 

Turning up the heat


Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival is New Zealand’s largest outdoor festival and one of the hottest highlights of the summer events calendar.

 

BLANC DE BLANC – PAMELA RAITH PHOTOGRAPHY

 

This summer’s selection is even hotter than ever before, with a miraculous mash up of international street theatre, music, cabaret, comedy, circus and genre-bending performance art.

From 23 January to 16 February 2020, Bread & Circus are turning up the heat with some of the best talent from across the world and it all starts with world-acclaimed circus-cabaret act, Blanc De Blanc. Metropol caught up with Blanc De Blanc Director Scott Maidment about what the show has in store for us.

 

BLANC SHOW – NATHANIEL MASON

 

Christchurch is looking forward to seeing you guys hit the city! How much are you all looking forward to coming here?
We can’t wait to spend the summer of 2020 in Christchurch! What better way to spend a summer evening than in a champagne-soaked alternate universe inside the magnificent Spiegeltent?!


What can Christchurch look forward to from the Blanc de Blanc show?
If you loved LIMBO in last years’ Bread & Circus festival, you’re going to go absolutely nuts for Blanc de Blanc. The show is the epitome of hedonistic, glamorous escapism, but the rich aesthetic is backed up by the world’s very best circus and cabaret talent. Blanc de Blanc really has style and substance.

Blanc de Blanc has been all over – from Sydney Opera house to London’s West End, and it’s currently in Las Vegas! The cast and show are so well-oiled now, but every time we come to a new city, the show takes on a slightly different energy. Having the show inside the Spiegeltent and as part of a larger festival is what will make Blanc’s Christchurch run really unique.

 

BLANC DE BLANC – PAMELA RAITH PHOTOGRAPHY

 

What’s the story behind the name?
The show derives its inspiration and aesthetic from champagne both literally and figuratively. Just like the drink, Blanc de Blanc is effervescent, glamourous and intoxicating. This show is guaranteed to pop your cork – it’s a production that pops, fizzes and bangs.


What are you looking forward to about your trip to Christchurch?
Because Blanc de Blanc is being presented by Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival, we of course can’t wait to check out the street buskers themselves, as well as the other huge international acts that are coming to Christchurch for the festival. It’s going to be an absolute party.

 


 

Pasifika play returns


Twenty-five years ago, Pasifika play Fresh Off the Boat debuted before New Zealand audiences; now, a new generation can experience this ground-breaking play at The Court Theatre from 19 October to 9 November.

 

 

The story follows Charles as he emigrates from Samoa to 1990s Christchurch for a new life in Aotearoa, but he soon finds the fantasy weaved for him comes with a few holes.

Directed by original cast member Tanya Muagututi’a, her two daughters, Talia-Rae and Josephine Mavaega, take on the same roles that Tanya and her sister, Mishelle Muagututi’a, played in the original production!

“It’s special because I’m working with my daughters – and they’re playing the sisters that I played with Mishelle 25 years ago! Who knew that was ever going to happen? When I was in the production, I wasn’t even thinking about children… it’s amazing,” Muagututi’a says.

Completing this family affair is Tanya’s husband, Posenai Mavaega, creating sound design, with her brother-in-law, Tony De Goldi, designing the set.

Written by Oscar Kightley (bro’Town; Sione’s Wedding) and Simon Small, the play’s 1993 roaring success saw it tour New Zealand, followed by Australia and Samoa, with Muagututi’a playing the role of Ula from 1993 – 1995.

The cast also features Sela Faletolu-Fasi, Jake Arona, Roy Snow and Albany Peseta, all of whom performed in the rehearsed reading last year at The Court Theatre as part of New Zealand Theatre Month celebrations.

Following its success, the Artistic team at The Court decided to revive the play for a full season. “Fresh Off the Boat is, historically, an incredibly important Pasifika play,” Artistic Director Ross Gumbley says. “It still works brilliantly and is perhaps even more poignant now than when it was written – as was shown when it was the star piece of writing in our 2018 Indelible Ink season.”

Described as hilarious but also sobering, this Pasifika play tells a story that culturally challenges us as Kiwis, yet is universal; it’s a story about family, culture shock and looking out for each other. With throwbacks to the ‘90s aplenty, audiences will love the comedy but can also expect to be taken on quite an affecting journey.

For bookings, phone 0800 333 100 or www.courttheatre.org.nz.

 

 


 

Born for the Arts


A local actress with her own distinctive vibe has been fundamental in helping the local art scene get a wriggle on.

 

 

Phoebe Hurst put on her first solo performance of WORM last week, which had an intimate audience squirming with mirth. “It is weird – but it’s a comedy with no linear storyline, designed for the audience to participate and have fun and disconnect from reality for 50 minutes.”

She takes the Glitter and Chaos production to Auckland’s Basement theatre next month, opening on 15 October. Where WORM will wriggle to next will be interesting. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is her goal post.

Born for the arts, Phoebe spent two years at Hagley Theatre Company before moving to Wellington and graduating from Toi Whakaari, New Zealand Drama School, in 2011.

Now well-seasoned on the Christchurch theatrical scene, she stole the show last May in The Court Theatre’s dark comedy Hedwig and the Angry Inch. “I was in male drag as Yitzhak. He was a beautiful, humble, charismatic and patient character.”

However, her Christchurch stage debut was in 2015 as part of the musical production That Bloody Woman at The Christchurch Arts Festival, which then went on to be performed up and down the country. “I was super stoked to be involved in such a successful project.”

Phoebe, who lives in Linwood with her husband, has just turned 30. “I feel like I have crossed an imaginary threshold. When I graduated, I was crippled with self-doubt and suffered depression.”

She decided back then to be a musician instead. With two EPs under her belt, That Bloody Woman came along and thankfully created the opportunity for acting to take centre stage in her life again. This led on to other ventures such as working with Silo Theatre, The Auckland Philharmonia and The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Alongside WORM, Phoebe is currently working on a cabaret act for the 2020 Jazz and Blues Festival with Two Production’s co-artistic director, Holly Chappell-Eason.

“Acting is a remedy and illness at the same time,” Phoebe explains. “It helps me to process stuff – it is a double-edged sword.”

In this year’s 48-hour film festival, her team Snack To The Future won the national grand final with their film A Familiar Feeling. “We were given the genre ‘gross-out/cringe comedy’. It’s about two people who meet in a bar and discover they have more in common than they think.”

A must-see, the film can be watched on www.48hours.co.nz. Phoebe encourages anyone and everyone to support local theatre.

 

 


 

 

Bonjour! Welcome to Akaroa FrenchFest 2019


Escape to picturesque Akaroa and immerse yourself in French culture, entertainment and romance as you celebrate Akaroa’s unique history (French, German and Maori) at Akaroa FrenchFest – a whole weekend of fun activities. All are free for the family to enjoy, except the ticketed Cabaret on Saturday night.

 

 

Settle in on Friday evening and relax with seaside dining. Watch the waterfront come alive on Beach Road, with entertainment and music featuring Mundy and Danger Baby. A traditional Maori pōwhiri will open the festival.

Early Saturday morning (8:30am), take part in the theatrical living history re-enactment with The Landing on the main beach. Telling the history and stories of the many and varied intrepid souls who travelled far and wide to make Banks Peninsula their home, The Landing is a lively, fun, historical re-enactment that leads up to the arrival in 1840 of The Comte de Paris, bringing 59 French and German settlers to Akaroa.

Stories are told of these first encounters; of local iwi, the whalers, trading sailors and the first farmers, who were just set up in Akaroa. The groups of characters – played by local community members, wherever possible playing their own ancestors – will all be a part of telling these stories in a lively, historically accurate, fun, immersive and audience-inclusive way.

 

The Landing is followed by the parade to the Recreation Ground. At 11am on the Rec, the official part of the programme commences with speeches and the official flag raising. From 11am until 4:30pm, Le Jour du Marché (Market Day) is held with French inspired markets, games, food, entertainment and live music all day. Iconic events like the Waiters Race and the Cock Crowing competition will delight!

On Saturday evening, there is a ticketed cabaret which is not to be missed. Enjoy an incredible array of music and entertainment with an enchanting French flavour all night. Delight in thrilling performances from Bonita Danger Doll, Jason Kerrison, Corner Sounds and more! Sunday will see a Circotica Circus workshop for the children plus a circus performance to close FrenchFest 2019.

For more information, visit www.frenchfest.co.nz and follow ‘FrenchFest Akaroa 11-13 October 2019’ on Facebook to keep up with all the news and details.

 


 

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.