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The (Jersey) Boys are back in town: The Court Theatre


Get ready for the show of the summer as international hit Jersey Boys makes its Canterbury debut!

 

 

Running at The Court Theatre from November 21, Jersey Boys is the Tony-Award winning smash musical that tells the rags-to-riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, offering one hell of a night out at the theatre.

“We are extremely lucky to be able to bring this production to Christchurch audiences,” says director Stephen Robertson.

“It’s going to be spectacular.”

From humble beginnings on the streets of New Jersey, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons became one of the biggest bands in the world – but almost lost it all.

Jersey Boys chronicals the band’s story with wit and punch, set against a sensational musical playbook.

Including musical hits Sherry and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, the actor playing Frankie Valli has a huge challenge to take on, emulating his infamously high falsetto voice.

Luckily, The Court have been able to secure international star Kristian Lavercombe!

Holding the world-record for the most performances in The Rocky Horror Show, Kristian is thrilled to be back home in Aotearoa for Jersey Boys.

“I love musicals that show a grittier side of life and Frankie Valli’s story is an absolute rollercoaster,” says Kristian.

“It’s a true story that’s told warts and all. Combine that with some of the most iconic music of the 20th century and it’s a win-win situation!”

Running from November 21, book now at the Court Theatre’s website.


 

Courting change in the central city


Design work is underway for the new central city home of The Court Theatre, signalling welcome progress for an anchor project outlined in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.

 

 

Local Athfield Architects have been chosen by Christchurch City Council and The Court Theatre to undertake the project and have revealed they’ll be consulting with UK-based Haworth Tompkins which specialises in theatre design.

The new theatre will occupy the site on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets – opposite both Tūranga library and Te Pae convention centre.

The theatre will form a part of the performing arts precinct outlined in the recovery plan, along with the Isaac Theatre Royal, the Town Hall, and The Piano event facility.

The building is expected to house a 360-seat auditorium, a 150 seat black box theatre, two rehearsal rooms, one or two education suites, administration, and excellent hospitality through its bars, coffee shop and eating areas.

Court Theatre Chief Executive Barbara George says the new theatre will provide facilities for local and touring performance artists and musicians, “and will play a critical role in attracting people to the city centre, generating economic activity and investment”.

The Court Theatre is New Zealand’s largest professional theatre company, and has been operating from an old grain storehouse in Addington since the 2011 earthquakes ended its tenure at the Christchurch Arts Centre

Construction is expected to commence on or before June 2021, with completion expected by late 2023.


 

Putting the ‘sole’ into music


 

A 10-year dream to create a dedicated, world-class music hub is about to become a reality for international platinum recording artist Sacha Vee – and it’s all happening right here in Christchurch.

 

SACHA VEE

 

In February, SOLE Music Academy will move to its new premises on the ground floor of the historic Woods Mill Building in Addington, offering specialised vocal and songwriting sessions, production skills and artist development.

Sacha Vee knows first-hand the reality and challenges of navigating the music industry, having built a successful career that’s seen her perform across the globe.

Following success in New Zealand, the neo-soul singer became a top 10 finalist on The Voice of Holland which was heard by more than four million people in Holland and led to her signing a publishing deal with Downtown Music Benelux and working with Polish hip-hop star O.S.T.R.

Their collaboration garnered more than 50 million views and streams and the Fryderyk Hip Hop Album of The Year Award in Poland in 2017.

In 2016, Japanese record label Sweet Soul Records released her debut album Luminous worldwide, which made it to no.3 on the NZ Heatseeker charts.

It’s this experience that made her want to create a hub that teaches the next generation of artists all the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to achieve their goals.

“I wanted to create a service I needed when I was starting out,” Sacha explains.

“We’re not trying to sell a dream, we’re very realistic and honest with people. There is so much hard work involved.”

Sacha set up SOLE Music Academy two years ago from a single studio located at The Piano, to provide a clear and guided pathway for musicians, songwriters and producers to establish a career in music.

As director, she is now creating a community based around the SOLE concept, which stands for a ‘Source of Learning and Empowerment’.

“For decades, our local talent has been forced to look further afield for greener pastures,” Sacha says.

“SOLE creates a hub for our Christchurch talent to learn and be empowered. I’ve been thinking about this vision for over 10 years, so to have the building that will house this vision is unreal. It will support and allow artists to stay in Christchurch.”

Sacha says the move into the new building will mean the academy can continue to grow and expand, but also provide opportunities for already-established musicians and music industry professionals in the city.

 

Currently, four local musicians, KAMANDI, Will McGillivray (Nomad), Georgie Clifford and Sacha herself – all successful artists in their own rights – act as tutors and mentors to students from beginner to advanced levels.

“It was important to me to have mentors who are actually performing and releasing music to inspire and share their knowledge and experiences… the highs and the lows,” Sacha says.

This practical, focused approach means programmes can be tailored to the individual’s goals.

“It’s my hope that SOLE will also be providing a space and income for artists in town. SOLE’s mission is to help guide and get people on a pathway into the music industry, demystifying it and learning about what it
takes to sustain a music career.”

To help the project come to life, SOLE Music Academy launched a PledgeMe campaign on 18 November to ensure the community has quality rooms, gear and technology available to students.

The campaign closes on 10 December, but the team would love to hear from anyone keen to offer support, so visit www.solemusicacademy.co.nz for more information.

“The fit-out bill is getting close to $200,000, but after years of dreaming and saving, one final push is needed,” Sacha says. “We would love the public’s help to deliver this to our Christchurch musicians and make Christchurch the musical hub of Aotearoa.”

Bringing Rock to Towns

Bringing Rock to Towns


Imagine a world where everyone wears the same clothes, watches the same movies and thinks the same thoughts, where individuality is extinct and live music is banned under the control of an all-powerful global company and its tyrannical boss.

 

Bringing Rock to Towns
Killer Queen
(Naomi Ferguson)

 

In this futuristic comedy by Ben Elton, more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hits have been reimagined; wrapped into the story of an incredible dystopian world that is as unique as the music from which it was based. Successful West End shows like We Will Rock You (WWRY), complete national and international tours before the rights to stage them are given to community theatre companies. Showbiz Christchurch is the first to receive these for New Zealand, with the organisation then responsible for envisioning a whole new production.

 

Bringing Rock to Towns
Scaramouche (Jane Leonard) & Galileo (Caleb Jago-Ward)

It ensures what you see on a local level is special, with alterations made right down to minute detailing on the costumes and sets which were designed in the UK especially for WWRY.  The set, props and costumes came to Showbiz late last year from Queen Theatrical, the owners of the musical. The set was made by award-winning set builder Stufish Entertainment Architects, which is known internationally for creating the ‘Rolls Royce’ of sets, while the costumes were created by BAFTA and Olivier awards-winning costume designer Tim Goodchild.

Despite a prestigious career designing for stage, TV and film, including more than 60 West End productions, WWRY was a singular task. Goodchild joined the original London production team just six months before the May 2002 opening and turned his talented hand to creating more than 150 costumes – a task which can be likened to designing and making an entire couture collection.

 

Bringing Rock to Towns
Buddy
(Aaron Boyce)

While he took to the mammoth task with his usual attention to detail, which includes extensive research, WWRY required something ‘next-level’. The creative endeavour included visiting photographic libraries and antique shops for old magazines to get inspiration for the costuming, which meant Adam Ant, Ziggy Stardust, Kiss, Boy George, Skyhooks, AC-DC all played a part.

The finished product is a recreation of the entire spectrum of rock. Not just the Queen period, Goodchild has captured Bay City Rollers and Vivienne Westwood and Boy George within the ornate and exceptional quality costuming. His costume ‘bibles’ – all bursting with sketches, notes, photos and material samples that chart the progress of the costumes from idea to stage – are now splayed across the tables in the Showbiz Christchurch wardrobe department, amid the fusion of tartan, torn tights and distressed denim.

 

Bringing Rock to Towns
Oz
(Catherine Hay)

There are several of these bibles and the Showbiz Christchurch team were blown away by the extensive and detailed notes that came with the costuming, that too was exceptional quality and detailed. Multiple sizes of key costumes – such as one of the 8kg Killer Queen costumes – have been created for the diverse range of performers to play the roles, during the musical’s global journey. Throughout the world, legions of devoted audiences have turned WWRY into a global success and, since 2002, more than 16 million theatregoers in 28 countries have rocked out to this unique musical.

 


Make sure you get your tickets so that like the Bohemians, you too can embark on the search to find the unlimited power and freedom of rock music! Book online at www.showbiz.org.nz/wwry or 0800TICKETEK (0800 842 538).


 

Showbiz Christchurch

Back to back Broadway hits: you’ll get a kick out of Showbiz Christchurch’s mid-winter concert Broadway Hitmen

Back to back hits from two of the biggest names on Broadway, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be performed at the Isaac Theatre Royal, with four performances from 13-15 July.

Showbiz Christchurch
Charlotte Taylor will feature as a soloist in Broadway Hitmen. Photo Wendy Riley

American born Porter wrote more than 800 songs across a five-decade career, conquering both Broadway and Hollywood. His soaring melodies, offset with urbane and witty lyrics, gave rise to his signature musical genre known as ‘the Cole Porter song’. Iconic musicals like Anything Goes, Can Can and Kiss Me Kate remain stage and screen classics, finding new audiences with every decade; his greatest songs covered by modern stars from Michael Bublé to Lady Gaga.
British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the best-known name in modern musical theatre. The first composer to have four musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway since 1953, he has written some of the world’s most loved and successful musicals including Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar and CATS.
Broadway Hitmen features favourites from these two musical theatre hit makers performed by an onstage orchestra under the baton of Ravil Atlas, along with soloists and a large chorus.
Amongst the soloists will be West End singer/actor Nic Kyle, who toured with Elaine Page in 2012; soprano Charlotte Taylor who has performed with NZOpera and Showbiz; jazz and blues artist Kate Taylor of the All Girl Big Band; and Kira Josephson who recently played Nessarose in the Showbiz production of Wicked.
Bookings through Ticketek, 0800 842 538, www.ticketek.co.nz/showbiz or www.showbiz.org.nz/broadway-hitmen.

Winter in Ōtautahi

Spoilt for choice: Winter events to see you through to August

Winter in Ōtautahi has never looked so exciting, or enticing, as our city plays host to a myriad of events from art and theatre, to wine and babies. Talk about spoilt for choice!

Winter in Ōtautahi

A PICASSO
8 – 9 June
NO Productions Theatre presents Jeffrey Hatcher’s fast-paced psychological thriller at the Christchurch Art Gallery. Described in one review as: “Sex, Art, Nazis and a classy 20th century icon, all wrapped up like a tasty cultural burrito”.
noproductionstheatre.com/what-s-on

SAVE GOVERNORS BAY JETTY – ART AUCTION
9 June
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own an historic piece of jetty art. 18 well-known artists, from Lyttelton to Mount Herbert, have created unique artworks depicting their reflections on Governors Bay Jetty. Auction begins at 3pm at the Governors Bay Hotel.
www.savethejetty.org/create-to-construct

BABY EXPO
9 – 10 June
A huge range of products and services on show, plus seminars, demos and workshops. Everything you need to know from Bump to Birth and Beyond! Head to the Pioneer Leisure Centre.
www.babyexpos.co.nz

SWINGERS
12 July – 21 July
Written by renowned NZ playwright, April Phillips, Swingers is a riotous new comedy about men married to the golf course and their long-suffering wives who’ve had enough. Teeing off at The Performing Arts Centre, Heaton Normal Intermediate School.
www.casanova.co.nz

NEGOCIANTS FINE WINE TOUR 2018
26 July
A selection of award winning wines from New Zealand and Australia. The event also introduces some of the people that craft and stand behind these distinctive, fabulous wines. Quaffing commences 6pm at Hagley Oval.
www.negociantsfinewinetour.com

The Court Theatre

Something fishy in the city: The Court Theatre’s latest comedy ‘The Biggest’ will get you laughing hook, line, and sinker

Calling all fisherfolk – it’s time to call it a day; throw the small ones back, reel in your line, remove your waders and swap your tackle for your tux, ‘cos The Court has caught the best catch yet and you don’t want to miss any of the action!

The Court Theatre

Described as a small town, good Kiwi comedy, The Biggest promises a night of entertainment and laughter as we follow the escapades of Poppa, Pat and Mick in their quest to land the biggest fish, and thereby win their mate Stu a replacement boat for the one he wrote off.
It’s a great plan… except for two small problems – their collective lack of fishing skills and no actual means to catch the fish.
Written by award-winning playwright Jamie McCaskill, this hilarious, huge-hearted new comedy is a story of tough Māori and Pakeha men navigating life in small-town Aotearoa.
The cast is top-notch, with renowned Kiwi actor Mark Hadlow playing Stu; Rob Lloyd as Poppa; Phil Grieve as Pat, and Apirana Taylor as Mick. Nick Dunbar and Juanita Hepi play Jan and Cassie, respectively.
Directed by Ross Gumbley, The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director, The Biggest opens 16 June and runs through to 14 July.
For ticketing information visit courttheatre.org.nz. Book online or call The Court Theatre Box Office 03-963 0870.

LUMA Southern Light Project - credit Che McPherson Pixel Peeps

Let there be light: LUMA is the annual festival that lights up the southern skies

According to the Book of Genesis, ‘God said “Let there be light,” and there was light. A group of dedicated Southern Lakes locals may not have divine powers, but each year they deliver an innovative light festival that takes people on an interactive sensory journey like no other.

LUMA  Southern Light Project - credit Kiara Collab Photography
LUMA Southern Light Project – credit Kiara Collab Photography

Central Queenstown will shine brightly for four nights over Queen’s Birthday Weekend when the LUMA Southern Light Project comes to town. The free public event, now in its third year, attracted more than 35,000 visitors in 2017 and has gained a loyal following among locals as well as people from around New Zealand and overseas.
Set within the idyllic Queenstown Gardens and along the waterfront, the festival will transform the giant natural amphitheatre into an illuminated winter wonderland full of art, curated collections of stunning light sculptures and thought-provoking installations.
Luma was the brainchild of SILO, a collective of Southern Lakes professionals which – along with its wider group of fellow hard-working volunteers – is highly motivated to give the region more exposure to culture and creativity, to foster and enhance social wellbeing and develop a stronger sense of community.
Duncan Forsyth, whose day job is General Manager and Winemaker at Mount Edward, contributes countless hours of his ‘spare’ time while wearing the hat of Luma Light Festival Trust Chairman. For him it’s all about wanting to “give something back” by providing an event that is entertaining, accessible, family-friendly and joins everyone together.
“It looks like all the streets are paved with gold in the Southern Lakes,” Duncan says. “But the reality is that it can be a very difficult and costly place to live in and to enjoy. Families are working hard and trying to hold down two jobs… sometimes that sense of community gets swamped.”

LUMA Southern Light Project - credit Che McPherson Pixel Peeps
LUMA Southern Light Project – credit Che McPherson Pixel Peeps

Although Queenstown has firmly cemented its reputation as a hub for outdoor activities and adventure sports, Duncan believes the rich and thriving creative side of the Southern Lakes district is often overlooked. “We see Luma as really helping to put our region on the map as a respected cultural and arts destination.”
Without spoiling too much of the surprise, Duncan says this year the aim is to “pull people down a rabbit hole of visual delights”. It’s safe to say that the audience will be stimulated, and enlightened – literally and figuratively. “Every year we want to change people’s expectations of what Luma is about. If you’ve been before you’ll have a new and different experience this time.”
Aucklander Angus Muir, who has been recognised internationally, returns as principal light installation artist, featuring alongside creative art luminaries such as Daniel Brown, Jon Baxter, Puck Murphy, Mapping Mondays and Nocturnal.
Luma Southern Light Project is at Queenstown Gardens/Marine Parade for Queen’s Birthday Weekend (Friday 1 June to Monday 4 June), 5pm-10pm. Entry is free however, a gold coin donation would be appreciated. Car-pooling or taking public transport into town is advised. For more information, visit www.luma.nz.

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia’s Ashburton debut: get carried away to the music of ABBA at The Ashburton Events Centre

More than 54 million people around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make Mamma Mia! And, in May 2018, it will be performed for a limited season at the Ashburton Trust Event Centre, with a stellar cast, live band, amazing custom-made touring set and costumes.

Mamma Mia

The Ashburton Trust Event Centre was born out of the necessity to replace the aged Regent Theatre that had occupied the site for many years and was in very bad repair. “It would not have survived the Christchurch earthquakes had it still been standing,” Ashburton Events Centre Manager Roger Farr says.
“The brickwork was crumbling, the dressing rooms leaked like a sieve and there were broken trusses in the roof.”
Now ten years on, the Ashburton Trust Event Centre is gearing up to celebrate its first milestone by staging the box office extravaganza Mamma Mia. Leading the production team will be Director Roger Farr, Musical Director Richard Marrett and Choreographer Madison Tew Keyworth from Australia.
“I couldn’t think of a better show to pick for a celebration than Mamma Mia,” Madison says.
“It’s such a fun show; one of those shows that you just cannot help but smile when watching! It’s a clever storyline woven throughout Abba’s greatest hits.”
Mamma Mia runs from Friday 18 May to Saturday 26 May. For more information and to purchase tickets, drop in and see the team at the Event Centre, or visit online at
www.ateventcentre.co.nz.

Photo: Grant Hadley-Bennett

Vocal virtuosos: the talented performers behind ‘Oriana’

They’re young, vivacious and vocal virtuosos. Meet Amelia Ryman, Kimberley Wood, Matthew Harris and Harry Meehan, the faces of Oriana. This premier ensemble is rocking retrospective songs like nobody else – think sixteenth/seventeenth century retrospective!

Photo: Grant Hadley-Bennett
Photo: Grant Hadley-Bennett

The name Oriana is a nod to Queen Elizabeth I. “Oriana was a kind of nickname for her; it was slipped into many poems and compositions at the time,” explains Dublin born Harry. “And we do that, too,” adds Amelia, brainchild and founder of Oriana, “At the end of each performance, we sing ‘Long Live Fair Oriana!’”
Their debut concert was Christmas 2017 at Avebury House, while 2018 has seen Oriana sing the Easter Vigil at St Michael and All Angels, and a lunchtime concert at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral on 18 April. Coming up are 2pm concerts at Knox Church, 10 June, and The Piano, 19 August.
Kimberley says that Oriana’s choral pieces and madrigals are filling a gap in the market; Harry nods in agreement. “Auckland and Wellington have these groups but Christchurch, post-quakes, had nothing; now we can provide that high standard, quality music.”
Amelia says the friendship they have outside of performing is important. “Our connection with each other makes for a good connection with our audiences.”
Oriana also does private functions. “Corporate events, engagements, weddings, birthdays, whatever’s wanted, we’ll do it,” Matthew says. “And we happily do modern, and can go unscripted,” he adds, with a not quite cherubic smile.
For more information email orianaensemble@gmail.com or find Oriana on Facebook.