Category Archives: performing arts

been | Starman

The anticipation was high, didn’t know what time it was and the lights were low … The roar from the crowd was rapturous and it set the evening mood.

The glamorous premise of a show dedicated to the original Starman needed an explosive start, and in this case, it did itself justice.  Opening the show with the charged and raucous ‘Rebel Rebel’, tempo was born!  Carried by the energetic flare of this Cabaret extraordinaire; Sven Ratzke emulated Bowie’s enigmatic persona, falling into his un-mistakable vocals and succinct articulation at random.

Intermingling with the eclectic audience and transporting us to another dimension – Starman (aka Sven Ratzke) took us on an intergalactic journey; through crazy anecdotes of some of life’s most pedestrian situations, told with delightfully comedic element, which was heightened by his Dutch/Germanic twang.

‘Ground Control’ was one of the most mesmerizing ballads of the night’s performance.  Its powerful delivery and tight composition, really demonstrated the skill of Sven’s talented group of musicians, and which without their support, would have diminished the show’s brilliance.

So stylistically was his costume incorporated into the show; the gradual removal piece-by-piece, done with remarkable  flare, really lending to the overall ambience of the night.

Closing with other such Bowie classics – ‘Heroes’ and my personal ’Life on Mars’; fittingly provided the audience with a musical destination, in the genre of the finest Cabaret.

From the dynamic entrance to the fantastically detailed boots,  Sven Ratzke’s proved that he is a true, Starman …

Powerful, magnetic and deliciously libertine – this electrifying show of this year’s Auckland Live Cabaret Season, is a proud dedication to the brilliant Bowie and his fans alike

4 Stars! ****

Catch Starman at the Auckland Town Hall until Sunday 17 September.  Buy your tickets here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

interviewed | The fabulous Miss Frisky

Miss Frisky is gracing Auckland again this month for two evenings of karaoke cabaret nonsense, vocal pyrotechnics, and riotous fun. You may remember her from the British musical comedy cabaret double act – Frisky & Mannish – who performed at last year’s Auckland Live International Cabaret Season.

This time, the audience gets to choose the playlist during her performance! The show is all about classic music and why we love it so much. It will allow the audience to offer their random favourite songs, and express why they love certain tracks so much. Miss Frisky admitted: “It’s about getting to use me as a human jukebox and hear your favourites belted live, right in your face.”

When I asked her what she has lined up for the audience, she replied: “Really, it’s about what the audience have lined up for me! I genuinely do not know what I will be singing, it’s in the hands of the audience and I know we’ll all have a brilliant time together.”

After extensive research into interactive technologies, Miss Frisky and her team have decided that the audience will let them know their choice of songs by writing on a post-it note, and sticking it to their heads. Miss Frisky told me how incredibly efficient this method is, “and everyone looks suitably ridiculous, so I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ll then choose whichever songs I feel like singing. Bribes will be accepted.”

Along with the show, she’s super excited to be back in Auckland to visit Ponsonby’s food market, boutiques and brunch spots. She loves Karangahape Road’s vintage shops and the Wharf’s killer oysters and seafood. She also spoke very highly of Waiheke’s vineyards but will be looking for new adventures this year. She said: “All the best days out I’ve had, were suggested by Auckland locals, so write it on a post-it and stick it to your head, please.”

She is one of the biggest voices in cabaret and has performed all over the world, but she still gets nervous. She said: “What’s extra-nerve-racking about the show I’m doing here, is that I am totally in the audience’s hands. We will be making something unique every night, so comfort won’t really be coming into it! But the nerves are the thing that give you superpowers – I cannot wait to see what happens.”

Miss Frisky

Miss Frisky

Miss Frisky performs in Miss Frisky’s Karaoke Experience from Friday the 15th to Saturday the 16th of September at 8pm in Basement Theatre. Buy your tickets here.

After Auckland, Miss Frisky will fly back to London for a short time, before heading to Berlin to host a nightly dinner cabaret show, drink gluhwein and eat currywurst until March 2018.

She said: “I won’t be able to do more karaoke for a little while, so it’s going to be very very special doing these shows.”

 

been | A Streetcar named Desire

Raw, gripping and confronting are strong adjectives that spring to mind upon reflection of the opening night of  “A streetcar named Desire”  –  a classic Tennessee Williams play set in post war New Orleans and produced by Silo Theatre’s Shane Bosher.

A classic tale of a fractured family dynamic, socio-economic struggles and raw sexuality whose themes are still so prevalent even 70 years after it’s first performance on Broadway.

It’s main protagonist’s; Blanche Dubois (Mia Blake), Stella (Morgana Riley) and her brooding beau Stanley (Ryan O’Kane) bring this Pulitzer Prize winning play to our local stages with such powerful and emotive performances, that really capture the true essence and messages that are pivotal to the play’s success in garnering the audience’s attention and encouraging a reflection upon our own relationships with our family and personal development.

Silo’s ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ is also very effective in the way it incorporates modern elements in it’s 1947 based play – with the use of contemporary communication devices; cordless phone, MacBook and costume choices and even a little snippet of the musical pleasure of Sade’.

I was also taken with it’s use of the stage setting intermingled with changes in scenes.  With activity from every angle giving the audience the sense of urgency, secrecy and communication between characters.   The lighting too, stage kept true to the original production with it’s moody and dusty illumination.

The character of Blanche DuBois – a sultry yet conceited and seemingly self-involved human was incredibly portrayed by Mia Blake, who really brought her to life and throughout the play, in turn, endearing the flawed Blanche to me, with such brazen protectiveness and love of her sister alongside her own tortured and wounded soul.

Morgana Riley’s passion was also so well received as the sweet, caring and utterly loyal Stella – it was a delight to see the genuine dedication and energy into her performance. even to the end which was clearly indicative through the emotion in her eyes.  As was Ryan O’Kane in the aggressive, brutish and sexually charged performance he brought to the Rangatira stage as Stanley Kowalksi.

The play too, would not have been without it’s incredible supporting cast, (Toni Potter, Nicole Whippy, Mark Ruka, Fasitua Amosa, Arlo Green Toni Potter). Vitally important to the engaging scenes set in the hot Southern summer of the US and inclusion of topics broaching upon issues still relevant to this day,  the idea of human evolution, domestic violence and even homosexuality – topics today that are mostly accepted, but at the time of it’s first introduction would have been widely controversial, and are now to Tennessee William’s credit and legacy; having brought such important human issues to life and which we are now free to openly discuss, however confronting and unsettling they may be to one’s senses …  “Sorrow makes for sincerity … ”

A ‘Streetcar named Desire’ was an incredible gift to the 2017 Season of Silo Theatre –  so dynamic and moving that brought true grit and emotion to the stage, and not without a tear to myself, my companion’s and I am sure, many other peoples eyes within the audience that evening.

(Photo credit: Andi Crown Photography & Silo Theatre)

Stanley Kowalksi

Stanley Kowalksi

 

Blanche Dubois

Blanche Dubois

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most celebrated plays of the twentieth century.” (The New York Times)

A Streetcar Named Desire is now showing at the Q-Theatre:

Thursday Aug 24 2017 – Saturday September 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

been | Matilda the Musical

A revolting success full of maggots.

Here’s a hypothetical question; if a parent was rude, vile, and hated their child and poor treatment of this child causes them to develop telekinesis, would they have created a child with a superpower? Does this now make you a great parent?

Going to watch Matilda the Musical to get the answer to this question would be pointless.

But if you want to see one of the best musicals ever performed in Auckland; this certainly is a show not to miss. It’s spectacle of modern musical theatre with larger than life villains, catchy numbers, spectacular performers and humour for everyone; young or old.

The story centres around Matilda; an unwanted, unloved girl with magical powers. She’s just joined the local primary school, which is run by the biggest, well-bosomed, ex-Olympic hammer thrower, Miss Trunchbull. Whilst at school, she befriends her class teacher and together, they face their bullies.

The young actress playing Matilda, steals the show with per performance and every ‘revolting’ maggot is pitch perfect. Performing as an ensemble, they truly shined; there were several moments where the audience were left in fits of laughter and amazement.

The production is expertly curated with just the right dash of exaggeration and the set changes are seamless.

Whilst Tim Minchin, didn’t perform any of the musical numbers in Auckland, his involvement was certainly apparent. Every song was ‘Minchinesqued,’ it had the upbeat switching of chords, intertwined with Dahl’s irreverent wacky world.

A celebration of wit and creativity; this show is certainly not one to miss. If I was giving stars, this would be a 5-star performance.

Matilda the Musical plays at the Civic until October.  Buy your tickets here.

been | The Legend Of Zelda – Symphony Of The Goddesses

At E3 2011, Jason Michael Paul Productions produced a 4 minute overture to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic Zelda franchise. The clip contained footage from the various titles paired with an arrangement of some of the stirringly beautiful themes the series is famous for which, for anyone who’s spent even a moment of their childhood wrapped up in the saga of Link and Zelda, was one hell of a nostalgia trip. Shortly after the event a full concert was announced whose success would eventually lead to the creation of “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” to which I had the unique pleasure of seeing on the evening of the 14th of August at Auckland’s Civic theatre.

Multiplay Insomnia60 at NEC – Matthew King/iEventMedia

The show begins with the aforementioned overture, conducted with infectious enthusiasm by award winning Australian conductor Jessica Gethin, and performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra with assistance from the haunting Freemason Chorus. The performers are accompanied by the very same footage from the E3 presentation projected upon the back of the stage behind the Chorus.

The closing of the overture precedes an early teary eyed applause from series fans and newcomers alike and is followed by a brief introduction from Jason Michael Paul and a short clip from the one and only Shigeru Miyamoto himself. Not the last we see of the legendary game director as he makes a further announcement towards the end of the show, espousing his love for the series and the personal impact it’s had on him. He’s joined by two further clips, one from designer and current director of the Zelda series – Eiji Aonuma (who began his work with the series during the spectacular “Ocarina of Time”) and the renowned video game composer Koji Kondo.

Each piece of music is expertly choreographed to footage of the particular title it’s inspired from. It’s not just promotional footage either: a good deal of the scenes are actual gameplay meaning someone played through and recorded them for the show (I like to imagine Mr Paul did a start to finish “Let’s Play” of all 30 years worth of games for this himself). The masterful pairing with the swelling and pacing of the score suggests the clips were chosen by someone with a love for the series and, while a couple of clips felt like slightly odd choices, the vast majority of footage fit in sublimely and included enough chicken chasing and Master Sword pulling to satisfy everyone.

The pieces include arrangements from many of the greatest games in the series. Act one begins with a composition of the Dragon Roost Island theme from Wind Waker which, as the piece draws to a close, has the orchestra bathed in crimson light while showing Links dramatic battle with Gohma in the caverns. The stage lighting is used to great effect throughout immersing you even further from the vibrant greens of the Plains of Epona during a piece from Breath of the Wild to the deep blue of the Great Sea during Movement III – The Wind Waker.

I could more than happily talk about each piece in detail but, as Miyamoto says himself that “life, just as in the game, is full of surprises” and the surprises of this show really need to be experienced in person. The show will be moving on to Perth on the 24th of August and Singapore on the 26th before returning to Melbourne for two more shows on the 3rd of September. I implore you, if you’re able, crack open some pots and collect as many Rupees as you can to make it to one of these showings. You will not be disappointed.

Hyah!

 

 

 

Visit the Official Website HERE

 

been | The Pickle King

To celebrate their 20th Anniversary, Indian Ink Theatre Company – whose humble beginnings saw them in a rehearsal space in Wellington – have chosen to share their highly acclaimed The Pickling King with audiences across New Zealand.

The story centres around two hotel workers, an overbearing Ammachy (South Indian aunty), a mysterious guest and a haunting piano player, in what was once the finest hotel in town. Like a pickled onion, as you peel the layers, the play explores socially taboo subjects, which kiwis have come to accept and Indians don’t want to discuss.

Indian Ink’s founder, Jacob Rajan has passed the baton for this anniversary tour; with Vanessa Kumar (Boys Will Be Boys, Peter Pan) and Kalyani Nagarajan (The Brokenwood Mysteries 3, Polo) taking the helm, along with Andrew Ford (Le Sud, The Lady Killers) and Ayrton Foote on piano.

Ford as the pickle man and Kumar as the overbearing aunt give a strong performance and will have the audience in fits of laughter.

It’s easy to see how this show has won so many awards – it’s better than poppadum’s with mango pickle! Catch it at Q Theatre until Saturday 19 August.

been | The Effect

The impressive and inspiring collaborative force – Fractious Tash, have undoubtedly put themselves on the thespian radar; introducing to Q-Theatre’s 2017 Matchbox Season, the raw uninhibited and compelling production of “The Effect” – a play by the reputable Lucy Prebble (Secret Diary of a Call Girl), and directed by the visionary Benjamin Henson.

An unlikely love-story, set within the cold, confining parameters of a clinical drug-trial.  It’s subjects; the wry, cynical yet stoic heroine Connie (Jessie Lawrence), cast athwart the upbeat and lovable Irish rogue, Tristan (Daniel Watterson).

A great set, minimalist yet detailed.  It’s characters were immediately engaging; my companion taking a little longer to warm to them, but within minutes, was as transfixed as I, with a script so intelligent and absorbing, brought to life by such magnetic acting talent.

The inevitable attraction between these two polar opposites, are triggered by a clinical trial that they have both knowingly entered into, overseen by Dr Lorna (Sheena Irving) and Dr Toby (Will Wallace), who themselves, are most interesting personas through their portrayal of undeniable sexual attraction, that is yet restrained by the realities of life and own mental-awareness.

Confronting and powerful messages about love and it’s all-consuming hold over us, both mentally and physically, are ideas that are challenged by it’s integral characters; can certain chemicals induce or affect our innermost thoughts?  Or are we best left to allow our emotions to develop, and to deal with or overcome the consequences naturally, no matter how painful or challenging they may be …. ?

Sheena Irving is outstanding in her portrayal of the empathetic but emotionally troubled psychotherapist,  alongside such thought-provoking and incredibly relevant dialogue between the rest of the equally talented cast, surrounding the issue of mental illness and the important role that drugs play in how we deal with them as individuals.

Daniel Watterson and Jessie Lawrence wowed, with their intense passion and believable interpretation of love, which had me so involved, if not perhaps, emotionally a bit wrought at the end, yet delivered with great intention and just the right dose of humor to avert the classic Tragedy genre.   The only irony now being, I think I may be safer sticking to Tinder then messing with any love inducing chemicals …   🙂

The Effect is now showing @ Q Theatre – Loft.  August 1-12