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Category: Reviews – Music Theatre

Lively and colourful Iolanthe from Wellington G&S Light Opera

By , 14/07/2017
Iolanthe is one of the operettas admired by many who take it upon themselves to judge musical worth, and it doesn’t rank among the most popular, with Pirates, Mikado, Gondoliers and Pinafore. The company last staged Iolanthe in 2008. Here was a chance to see how those opinions stack up with someone who was not seeing it for the first time (I saw the 2008 production and reviewed it in... read more

Destination Beehive 2017 at Circa Theatre – too serious to be taken seriously

By , 09/07/2017
Legend has it that American songwriter and political satirist Tom Lehrer gave up satire when American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It's perhaps just as tempting for any present-day satirist to take a similar stance in the face of the antics of those real-life dodgers, shysters, con-artists and masters of illusion we know as politicians - why bother, she or he might argue... read more

Circa rumbles and dances with Roger Hall’s Jack and the Beanstalk

By , 22/11/2016
Pantomime is surely one of the most life-enhancing experiences theatre can offer, and Circa Theatre’s current Jack and the Beanstalk production ticks all the boxes that matter in the genre – it wasn’t long after the show’s beginning before the harshest, most vocal critics in the audience were soon caught up in it all, making manifest their involvement in the tale’s twists and turns, to the added delight, I... read more

Ali Harper – Legendary Diva at Circa Theatre

By , 27/07/2016
I came away from singer Ali Harper’s and musical director Michael Nicholas Williams' “Legendary Divas” opening night presentation at Circa Theatre feeling as though I had been seduced in the nicest and yet most whirlwind kind of way – Ali Harper’s all-encompassing stage personality, supported by her own and her pianist Michael Nicholas Williams' consummate musicality throughout, simply took me over for the duration. To bend a clichéd but... read more

Wellington G&S with another hit in funny, well-sung The Gondoliers

By , 19/09/2015
G&S goes on and on. Hard to think of another composer whose music in a certain genre has acquired such a single-minded following from so many, and of those, one suspects, some don’t particularly enjoy any other kind of opera or musical theatre, or even any other kind of classical music. Offenbach has no comparable cult status in France; nor Lehár or Kálmán in Austria; nor any one composer... read more

Circa Theatre’s “Dead Tragic” a life-enhancing experience

By , 22/11/2014
That old wizard of stage and screen, Noel Coward, was right when he famously quipped, "….how extraordinarily POTENT cheap music is……" - that is, if the response of the "half-century-onwards" hearts that were pumping and pulsating throughout Circa Theatre's startlingly in-your-face "Dead Tragic" collection of truly-and-tragically-dreadful 1970s songs was anything to go by. In fact that opening sentence gives you an idea of some of the convolutions of the lyrics... read more

High Mountain Flowing Water – theatre, poetry and music

By , 22/10/2014
Encounters with exotic art-forms and performance-styles which are unfamiliar can have profound consequences - one thinks, for instance of the effect upon the composer Claude Debussy of the Paris International Exhibition of 1889 with its displays of art and music from places like Java, in particular the sounds made by the gamelan orchestra. Earlier the prints of Japanese artists such as Hokusai had reached Europe and inspired a whole... read more

Ancient Mariner Rime watered-down, though stunning to look at

By , 09/03/2014
This was an evening which, on the face of things, promised much, with a presentation that, right from the outset, looked terrific, but then didn’t go on to adequately develop the musical and contextual possibilities afforded by these arresting visual images. I’d not seen but had heard about the group’s previous appearance at the New Zealand Festival in 2000 with the anarchic musical Shockheaded Peter, and so was looking... read more

Festival opera Ainadamar semi-staged but powerful, strongly cast and magnificently performed

By , 02/03/2014
In spite of the many attempts by composers of the present day to use contemporary issues and events as subjects for opera, few have survived more than an opening season of performances.  For by determining to display a command of the concepts and fashions that musical academia has developed and made de rigueur for a composer who wants to be taken seriously by his peers,  most have failed to... read more

Fabulous and compelling evocation of times past

By , 15/02/2014
This show - an hour's worth of stunningly-wrought, cheek-by-jowl evocation by just two performers, of an episode in Wellington's musical, colonial and imperial history - is a "must see".  Writer and director Jacqueline Coats has recreated a significant colonial musical event, one presented by the "Port Nicholson Music Appreciation Society" to mark the occasion in 1840 of Queen Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As befitted the... read more

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