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Seventh sensational season


In April 2020, three months before New Zealand Opera presents Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Christchurch, The Narropera Trio will present its version of the same opera in four performances, in The Golden Room of Lansdown House, on the Old Tai Tapu Road.

 

Dorothee Jansen, Sopran, Floriane Peycelon,Violine, Haydn Rawstron, Klavier; Kammermusiksaal Beethovenhaus Bonn . 19. Januar 2019

These Lansdown narropera performances are the perfect ‘prep’ for in-depth enjoyment of a staged performance of the opera. One unquestionable advantage of narropera (of which this year marks the seventh Lansdown Narropera Season) is that it makes clear an opera’s complex story; and there are few more complex operatic stories than that of the Marriage of Figaro.

Into the carefully narrated story of the opera, 12 pieces of music, arranged for chamber music trio of soprano, violin and piano, are placed at the appropriate moments and done in such a way as to continue the story telling, in music.

Another advantage of the narropera format is its length – around 80 minutes and without interval. Bring a hamper and picnic amidst the beautiful surroundings of Lansdown!

Performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro form part of The Lansdown Narropera Season 2020, held at 132 Old Tai Tapu Road, Christchurch 3 April, 6pm; 5 April, 4pm; 18 April, 4pm; and 24 April, 6pm.

Tickets $35, available from the Court Theatre Box Office, phone 03 963 0870 or visit www.courttheatre.org.nz.


 

Amazing Grace


It was always in his mind to cast an actress as young as possible in the role of Juliet because Shakespeare’s Juliet, of Romeo and Juliet, was a 13-year-old girl. Derek Doddington, Founder and Director of Top Dog Theatre, stands firmly by his ground-breaking decision. “With casting such a young cast, I’ll either fall on my sword or it will be the biggest triumph,” Derek says, with an irrepressible twinkle in his eye.

 


** Metropol has two double passes to give away. To enter, head to our Facebook page and follow the instructions. Competition will be drawn on Tuesday 11 February.**

 

Thirteen-year-old Grace Opie, who plays Juliet in Top Dog’s Summer Shakespeare Festival, confesses she’s a bit obsessed with Shakespeare and has loved Romeo and Juliet “for ages”.

Grace studied the play last year at her school, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery and feels she has come into the show with a pretty good understanding of the story.

“But speaking the lines is very different to reading them and studying the context of the play.”

Grace says the portraying of Romeo and Juliet as the Bard of Avon intended them to be, makes the show feel a lot more realistic, as many of the decisions they make are impulsive and don’t end well.

“It also explains how they fell in love almost immediately and how strong their emotions became that eventually led them to making decisions without much thought.”

Grace has attended Original Scripts Theatre School since the age of six and says she has had great experiences there and with other theatre companies.

Summer Shakespeare is her first experience of outdoor theatre and it’s been a positive one.

“I’ve really enjoyed rehearsing outside at Mona Vale. I’ve loved the process and people, seeing everything come together and working with such an experienced team as Top Dog. Everyone has been really nice and supportive.”

Grace says she loves to perform and would like to explore as many different genres as she can in the future. “But definitely more Shakespeare!”

Romeo is played by 17-year-old Rhys Murdoch and Mercutio by 18-year-old Felix Elliott, completing the teen cast of lead roles that Derek had long envisioned.

“I’ve seen performances where the actress playing Juliet’s obviously too old – I recall one where they gave her a doll to make her look 13!”

Derek has switched the gender of a few characters in the play in order to keep a good balance of male and female actors on stage – hence there’s now a Mother Superior and Benvolia instead of Friar Laurence and Benvolio.

The original music score is composed by Harry Lawrence, and the wardrobe department is under the expert hands of Caitlin Maclennan and Polly Mortimer.

“There’s rich comedy, beautiful live music, singing and dancing, and our costume people have done a brilliant job,” Derek says, “Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate love story. Pack a picnic, bring your deck-chairs, sit back and just enjoy being part of it all.”

Romeo and Juliet is showing from Wednesday 12 February to Saturday 22 February at The Mound Lawn, Mona Vale, 6pm nightly and 2pm Saturday matinees.

For tickets, visit www.topdogtheatre.com (gate sales available).


 

New name in Showbiz


He’s lived and breathed musical theatre for most of his working life. But for Paul Christ, the opportunity to come to Christchurch and take the reins of our local operatic society was a dream come true.

 

Photographed by Thomas Hamill

 

What drew you to the General Manager role with Showbiz Christchurch?
I have spent a huge amount of my life in musical theatre; you could say it’s in my DNA!

I’ve always felt at home in Christchurch and I’m really excited by the city’s rebuild, so when the opportunity arose to become a part of the musical theatre community at Showbiz Christchurch, I grabbed it with both hands.

Can you tell us about your background in musical theatre?
I first became involved in music as a conductor in the classical symphonic world.

My first professional musical was actually My Fair Lady (the first show of the 2020 Saunders & Co Season playing from 3-18 April) and for 15 years I was Musical Director and Supervisor for numerous West End shows, including Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, The Producers and Mary Poppins.

I was the Musical Director for Elaine Paige in The King & I at the London Palladium, and Disney’s worldwide Musical Supervisor for the Broadway production of Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, before moving to Vienna to work.

What are you looking forward to the most going forward?
I’ve been very fortunate to travel throughout my career and see what musicals are being produced around the world, so I’m incredibly excited about what could be coming our way!

There are some exceptional shows coming out of Broadway and the West End; we’re in talks to bring that excitement to Christchurch and make more world-class theatre, utilising world-class local talent.

How exciting is the 2020 Showbiz Christchurch line-up?
It’s really exciting! These are exceptional shows and each one has some personal connection.

My Fair Lady set a Broadway record when it opened in 1956 and its revivals have all been huge hits.

Chess in Concert in association with the CSO (19-21 June), is re-visiting the work of the ABBA boys, with international hits like I Know Him So Well and One Night in Bangkok.

Buddy Holly had so many number one hits that anyone can come to Buddy (11-26 September) and have a sing along and a good time, which is a theme of all the shows – everyone can enjoy them.


 

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.

Wicked Showbiz

Behind the scenes: the Wicked talent behind the scenes for Showbiz Christchurch

If you’ve ever been to a Showbiz Christchurch performance and been blown away by the on-stage performance, you’re seeing just a small fraction of the local talent that culminates in an end product of this calibre.

Wicked Showbiz
Vicki Morris-Williamson with some of the hats under construction or refurbishment for Wicked. Photo courtesy of Showbiz Christchurch.

The 80-year-old community theatrical society stages three productions each year. The Saunders & Co 2018 season commences at the Isaac Theatre Royal with Wicked from 6-21 April; followed by Broadway Hitmen, a concert of Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber hits, from 13-15 July; and is completed by Les Misérables opening on 14 September.
Up to 100 people can be involved behind the scenes in just one show, volunteers who put hundreds of unpaid hours into their roles.
In Wicked’s on stage performance, you will see two leads (played by four actors on alternate nights), six principal roles, 16 ensemble cast and 15 dancers, with 16 backing vocalists and 18 orchestral performers in the pit. Backstage however, 100 equally important parts make it all come together.
Vicki Morris-Williamson has been volunteering for Showbiz Christchurch for 19 years and is part of a team responsible for ensuring hats and costumes are made show ready and fit the brief of Director Stephen Robertson.
Successful Broadway shows like Wicked, complete national and international tours before the rights to stage them are given to community theatre groups. Showbiz Christchurch is the first in New Zealand to get these rights to stage Wicked.
“The Showbiz Christchurch performance is a whole new production,” Vicki says.
“Stephen creates the best shows he can and is completely invested in bringing something special to the stage. He visualises exactly what he wants down to the smallest detail. We then start with the bones of the costumes, adding and improving everything, making it our own unique show.”
Vicki is currently living in a sea of green, as she works diligently to overhaul hats that came from an international production and create new ones for the Emerald City townsfolk in Wicked. Just about every member of the cast is on stage for this scene and every costume has a hat. That’s 35 hats, each representing Vicki’s work to realise Stephen’s vision for it.

Wicked Showbiz
Up to 100 people can be involved behind the scenes in just one show.

Vicki wears many hats herself in the months that go into each performance. She is involved in costuming, pre-setting (planning set positioning), pack in (putting props up in the theatre), then the in-theatre rehearsals, before the run of shows.
“I warn my hubby heading into show season, that he won’t see me for three months,” she laughs. But working around a full-time job, it’s not an exaggeration.
It’s a family affair for her though. Vicki’s son James (then 12) joined her in her first production, playing Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Her daughter Jenna – a professional dancer from the New Zealand School of Dance – made her Showbiz Christchurch debut at 19 and will be performing in Wicked when it starts next month. Tickets are available from www.ticketek.co.nz/showbiz.