17 November 2015

Jonathan Morgan as Friar Tuck

Roger Hall’s Robin Hood: The Pantomime opens In Circa One on 21 November.  This week in drama* on the waterfront, Julie O’Brien talks with Jonathan about his career, costume changes and corpsing.

Who do you play in Robin Hood?

I play two roles - Rumble and Friar Tuck.

Does it get difficult swapping between the two characters?

Not on stage, but there are some pretty fast costumes changes so I hope I get those right. The great thing about performing with this cast is that most of them have had a lot of experience in panto, so I’m sure if I walked on stage in the wrong costume, someone would help me out… I hope!
Jonathan Morgan in rehearsal for Robin Hood:  The Pantomime.
What training have you had? 

I currently hold a Bachelor of Applied Arts; Performing Arts (Singing) and a Diploma in Performing Arts (Singing) from Whitireia Performance Centre (2013) and a Certificate in Screen Acting from Wellington Performing Arts Centre (2010).

What have we seen you in?

I performed in Destination Beehive (2014) and Red Riding Hood: The Pantomime (2014) at Circa Theatre.  You also may have been seen me as Eugene in Wellington Musical Theatre's Grease (2014) and in Wellington Musical Theatre's Hairspray (2012).  I also performed in Miss Saigon at the Arts Centre, Gold Coast, earlier this year. It’d be interesting to know if anyone saw me in that!

If you weren't performing, what would you be doing? 

If I wasn't performing, I would most probably be teaching. I'd love to be a Drama/Social Studies teacher.
Jonathan Morgan, in rehearsal with Andrew Patterson.
What's a favourite role that you've played and why? 

My favourite role I have played would be George Hemi Arapeta in Destination Beehive (2014, Circa Theatre). It was my first professional show and I learnt a lot about being in the theatre and about politics. It was amazing working with Lorae Parry and Pinky Agnew, too. They are both very funny and it was great to see how they worked. Highlight: my character performed a reggae/rap song. It was awesome.

What's a role that's you'd love to play and why? 

A role that I would love to play would be 'Simon/Lola' in Kinky Boots. The musical is inspiring, beautiful, and has very catchy music.

What are your plans after Robin Hood

I am considering studying a postgraduate diploma in teaching through Victoria University, but haven't committed yet. (Let's leave this one out, for now ha ha!).
The cast of Robin Hood:  The Pantomime in rehearsal at Circa Theatre.
What’s it like doing the Panto?

Brilliant! We are having so much fun. Rehearsals are hilarious and a lot of laughs. It’s taking a lot of discipline to stop myself from corpsing. Hopefully by the time the show comes around, I’ll be used to the jokes and not find them funny anymore… I seriously doubt it, though!

Roger Hall’s Robin Hood: The Pantomime opens 21 November and runs until 9 January.

10 November 2015

Ian Harman for Ache

Ian Harman
Ache is well into its season and receiving excellent reviews! Many of the audience and reviewers have commented on the sleek design of set and costume by Ian Harman. This week on drama* on the waterfront, Ian talks about his process, working on Ache and what else he has coming up.

“The set on this production was incredible. Versatile, stylish, precise. The execution was impeccable and the entire world enchanting.”
-Rosie Cann, Art Murmurs

“…the most stunning feature is the all-wooden set (Ian Harman). It's beautiful watching Buchanan moving its parts between scenes: the slide of the slatted screen from this side to that, the lattice it makes against the horizontal lines of the backdrop, the harmonious minimalism of tone and material. It's a visual pleasure, essential to the play's character.”
-Lena Fransham, Theatreview

Ian Harman talks about his design:

I was attracted to Ache firstly because I love working with director Lyndee Jane Rutherford (LJ) and then secondly, when I read the script I had an instant connection with the piece. I wanted to design a set for a lighting designer to play with, and something that shifted and changed like the relationships in the play. I was interested in how the lattice would work and how we could use the light to define the spaces. I was thrilled with what Marcus McShane brought to the project.

The Set design for Ache.
As for costume I wanted to work with broad brushstrokes and really let the actors work and the direction shine through.

For the overall design I wanted it to say modern, contemporary, utilitarian, and so hot right now. And I wanted it to feel like a very kiwi interior. I feel we achieved that and I love how it works! Finn our builder finished it beautifully and it works effortlessly.

Renee Lyons and Richard Dey performing on Ian Harman's set for Ache.
Other than Ache, currently I am working on costume for Boys at the Beach at Centrepoint. I am directing, choreographing and designing British Invasion for the Abbey Musical Theatre and Designing, choreographing and performing as my alter ego Mr Lola Illusion in a Christmas Burlesque called Jingle all the Way.

The set design for Ache.

Ache continues at Circa until Saturday 21 November.  Book now: 04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz

21 October 2015

Jack Buchanan in Ache

Pip Hall’s Ache opens in Circa Two this weekend. This week on drama* on the waterfront, Debbie Fish talks to actor Jack Buchanan, about his roles in Ache and his love life…

Jack Buchanan (with Renee Lyons in the background) in rehearsal for Ache.
 Q:  Who do you play in Ache?

In Ache I play a number of characters – the foodie, who runs a pop-up restaurant out of his house, I play the cop, the architect, the doctor, and the groom.

Q:  Seeing as Ache focuses a lot on dating and relationships, can you tell us your current relationship status?

In its simplest form: horribly alone! But it’s alright, I’m OK with it. ‘Single’, let’s go with ‘single’.

Q: And are you feeling optimistic, given that statistics about the man drought?

Well I’m feeling a mixture of optimistic, and also "what the f*ck is wrong with me?"  Now that I know there are something like 50,000 more single women than men in New Zealand, or something crazy, I’ve clearly been doing a really bad job if I haven’t found any of them. But technically isn’t the man drought between 25-40? See I’m not 25 yet, so that must be the problem. As soon as I hit 25 I’m sure I’ll have 50,000 women at my door. The problem will be solved.

Jack Buchanan and Amy Usherwood in rehearsal for Ache.
Q: Any stories you’d like to share about dating or relationships?

I’ve only been in two what I would call "serious" relationships. I was in a relationship from the time I was 16 until I was 20. And when I was 20 we broke up, and I kind of realised I didn’t know how to be single. I think when you’re around 18 is when most people figure that out and I missed that. And it was really terrifying and I didn’t know what to do. I think when you’re in a relationship and you’re young, there’s this thing like "if I were single I’m sure people would be all over me, it’d be so easy and I’d be so good at that" and then you become single and that’s just not true.

Q:  Why should people come see Ache?

The reason I like watching it is because Ricky [Dey] and RenĂ©e [Lyons] are really, really charming and watching them together is great. I think the play lives or dies on the chemistry of those two characters, and fortunately Ricky and Renee are not just two really great actors, which they are, but they’re two people who make each other laugh a lot. And I think that has really bled into the play in a really nice way. And then of course there’s the ‘we’re all single and alone’ and this is about that. It’s nice not to feel alone in being alone.

Jack Buchanan and Richard Dey in rehearsal for Ache.
Ache runs from 24 October to 21 November in Circa Two. To book, visit, www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 04 801 7992.

12 October 2015

Adventures in Pianoland

This week on drama* on the waterfront, we talk to the "irresistible" Jan Preston about her upcoming show Adventures in Pianoland.  Jan joins us at Circa for one weekend only!  Tickets are selling fast - book now to avoid missing this musical tour de force.

Jan Preston, star of Adventures in Pianoland.
Q:  This new show is an autobiography. What prompted you to write it at this stage of your life?

I’ve been including elements of my autobiography in various performances over the past few years, and it seemed the right time to write and present this show. I talked to Gaylene [Preston; Jan's sister and Director of Adventures in Pianoland] about the idea and she was extremely enthusiastic, although it took a while to find the gap in both our schedules.  I’m extremely excited to finally be premiering the show in Wellington.
Gaylene & Jan Preston
Q:  You trained as a classical pianist but now you are known as a boogie player. How did that transition happen?

It has been a very circuitous route, from studying classical, to playing in Jack Body’s Sonic Circus, to writing theatre music for Red Mole and onto rock songs with Coup D’Etat, before eventually finding my style as a boogie piano player and songwriter. All this is revealed in Adventures in Pianoland!
Gaylene & Jan Preston
Q:  This is the first time your sister Gaylene has directed you although I believe you have composed music for her movies. Has this brought new dynamics to your relationship as sisters? 

We have always been very close, but we tend to keep our personal life separate from our working one. We definitely have a special dynamic when we work together, and I think Gaylene has been directing me, one way or another, since I could walk and talk.
Gaylene Preston, who directs her sister Jan in Adventures in Pianoland.
Q:  Although you frequently come to NZ you are based in Australia. What took you there in the first place?

I originally went to Sydney to get a record contract in 1980, as that was the city many NZ rock musicians (eg Sharon O’Neill, Jenny Morris) were relocating to at that time.

Q:  You are remembered for your band Coup D’Etat  and work with Red Mole. They must have been exciting times?

They were wild times, it was the 1970s and early '80s when the entertainment world was not as regulated as it is now, so collaborations were freer and more chaotic. I include stories and slides about Red Mole and Coup D’Etat in the show.
Jan Preston when she was performing with Coup D'Etat
Q:  This is the premiere season of Adventures in Pianoland and certainly a departure for you with the combination of music and dialogue. Have you enjoyed the challenge it has presented to you?

In my concerts I always like to chat to the audience quite a bit anyway, so it feels quite natural to me to include dialogue.

Q:  Finally – if you were marooned on a desert Island and could take only 3 pieces of music with you, what would you choose?

The most important thing would be to have a piano on the island, so long as I could play I’d be OK, I care more about that than the actual music I would be playing.  If pushed, however, I would take my favourite boogie woogie, The Honky Tonk Train Blues by Meade Lux Lewis, plus some Chopin and maybe a piece of Winifred Atwell Ragtime.
Jan Preston
Adventures is Pianoland is on for three days only!  Thursday 15 - Sat 17 October.
Book now:  www.circa.co.nz or 04 801 7992