23 March 2015

Whitirea Students in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

This week on drama on the waterfront, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford and a selection of the students from Whitireia School of Performing Arts spill the beans on their experience rehearsing the joyfully boisterous murder mystery musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Q: What is it like working on a professional show for Circa? 
Charli Gatrell (Ensemble): Its intense! Ive done a lot of theatre, but this is six days of rehearsal a week, its not like anything Ive done before. Its a full time job, and I love it! 
Auburn Crombie (Ensemble): Its incredible. I didnt expect to work on a professional show as a first year. Coming in, I didnt think it would start straight away, its honestly like nothing Ive done before! 
Vanessa Immink (Ensemble): Well, its full-time. All the other shows weve done apart from school shows, have been part-time. This is pretty much nine to five every single day. Sometimes were needed and sometimes were not, but its just so cool being in the Circa environment, working alongside professionals and having the Box Office just downstairs. Its very… real!

Q: What do you love about Musical Theatre? 
Ben Patterson (Neville Landless): For me, it sounds silly, but its what I love doing. Its good, because I dont think I could do anything else, but its lucky I got forced to audition for Musical Theatre in high school, which has lead me down this crazy path that I love. 

Q: Is this something you expected you would get the chance to do during your time training at Whitireia? 
Flora Lloyd (Helena Landless): When they announced they were doing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and they were getting the students to be involved I was super excited! Its my third year studying musical theatre, and its just a great opportunity. I am getting to put on my “Body of Work” and be in a professional Circa show. Its a great experience! 

Q: Whats the best part about rehearsals? 
Flora Lloyd (Helena Landless): Im a huge observer of the professionals working. Its thrilling to see them in their element and learn from them. 
Bronte Fitzgibbon (Ensemble): It has to be getting to know everyone. Usually the third year students are a little segregated due to their work load and timetable, but now we are right there with everyone working and bonding together on The Mystery Of Edwin Drood. 
Auburn Crombie (Ensemble): I couldn’t pick who was second year or third year. They were all so welcoming to us first years and it felt like a big family from day one. It has only been a few weeks and we’re all very close friends! 

Q: Whats it like to work with Lyndee-Jane? 
Vanessa Immink (Ensemble): She is so expressive and enthusiastic! She is like an ever-ready battery that just keeps going, its amazing! She is incredibly invested and is making sure everyone is having a good time and is involved.  She is so detailed about her work but she makes it so fun, you forget youve been working for hours!

Q: How did this project come about? 
Lyndee-Jane Rutherford (Director): Ive worked at Whitireia before with our amazing Musical Director, Michael Nicholas Williams, and our stunning Choreographer, Leigh Evans. We decided to pitch The Mystery Of Edwin Drood to Circa, never for a second thinking they would take it. Michael threw the comment away that we could use the students for the ensemble. Next minute, Circa has said yes and we have the entire three years of performing arts students in the show! 

Q: How do you feel to be directing this massive show at Circa? 
Lyndee-Jane Rutherford (Director): This is possibly one of the biggest productions Circa has ever done. I have moments of absolute terror, times of sheer joy and that grateful feeling - “how lucky am I” -  that I have all these people supporting me. Everyone has been hugely positive, energized and excited by this massive undertaking!

16 March 2015

Behind the scenes Capital E National Arts Festival

This week on drama on the waterfront, we hang out with the team at Capital E as they get busy with the Capital E National Arts Festival.

After a stellar sell out first weekend of the Capital E National Arts Festival at Circa Theatre with Caterpillars, Trick of the Light Theatre presents their latest work, Beards! Beards! Beards!

Trick of the Light Theatre have been busy ensuring this show has giant moustaches, can be packed into four boxes and two suitcases, and has Christina Aguilera style recordings as part of the show.

The show has sold over 230 tickets and only a few are left for Saturday 21 March at 10am and 1pm. Bookings can be made via capitale.org.nz

Meanwhile staff at Capital E have been busy ensuring that cast member Abby Howells’ face is everywhere around town. Seriously. It’s ridiculous.

Nick Zwart with giant moustache.

Cast member Abby Howells and Director Hannah Smith standing next to life sized ad shell image of Abby Howells.

The audience at Circa Theatre for Capital E National Arts Festival's opening weekend.

Capital E’s Sarah Leary and Pippa Drakeford at the Newtown Festival.

Ralph McCubbin Howell recording swish sounds.

Paul Waggott getting his Christina on.

09 March 2015

Yep, Still Got It! "In my shows, the songs come first."


This week on drama on the waterfront, Jane Keller, the star of Yep, Still Got It!, delves deep into her creative process and her long working relationship with Michael Nicholas Williams.

Jane Keller, star of Yep, Still Got It!
Q:  Yep, Still Got It! It’s a wonderful title where did it come from?
JK:  Years ago, probably 10 years or so, I saw a greeting card with a flamboyant old lady on the cover.  She had grey hair and she was very round.  She was wearing black fishnet stockings and a purple feather boa. She had stylish black glasses and very red lipstick.  The caption inside the cover was "Yep, Still Got It!".  I thought that would be a fabulous title for a show.

Q:  Where did you get the idea for this show and how much change has there been since its original concept?

JK:  This show has completely changed from its original concept.  I had intended on making a show about aging.  I wanted to explore how some people embrace aging and others completely fight it. I did lots of research and started looking for appropriate songs.  As Sandy Brewer and I started writing and as Michael Nicholas Williams and I started looking at songs, the show moved in a new direction.  I decided that I wanted to embrace my life at 63.  I will make a show about aging, just not yet.

Q:  Does the script come first or the songs?

JK:  In my shows, the songs come first.  I find songs that I want to sing – some of which I know will work into the concept of the show.  Other songs I make to fit by writing appropriate linking dialogue.

Q:  There are about twenty songs in the show - how did you choose which to use?

JK:  We must have looked at over 50 songs.  We chose our favourites and the ones that really tell a story.

Q:  There are quite a few unknown songs – how did you source these?

JK:  I have the reputation of having unknown songs in my show. I look far and wide for these songs. I listen to CDs, look through my vast library of music, and spend hours searching on YouTube. I have written to composers, and gone onto artist's websites to get these songs.

Jane Keller mid-song in Yep, Still Got It!
Q:  Working once again with Michael Nicholas Williams must bring a familiarity and ease especially during the performance.

JK:  Michael and I are a great team. He is so instrumental in the early stages of putting the show together.  He is very good at making cuts in songs as well as linking songs together in medleys. He is very funny and comes up with many great concepts for our shows. He plays beautifully and I know here is always there for me in performance. If I make a mistake, he goes with me.                                  
Q:  This is your fourth solo show – was it is easier or harder to develop?

JK:  This is our fourth show together. It was easier to develop. Michael and I know how each other works.  We have a good track record.

Q:  A favourite song in the show?

JK:  The songs are mostly funny in the show.  There is a medley of four songs in the second half that is serious.  There is no dialogue - the story is told through these four songs.  That is my favourite part of the show.  I love it when someone is so touched by a song that they tear up.

Q:  You are originally from Ohio, USA – how long have you been here and have you returned to the USA to work?

JK:  I have been in NZ almost 27 years.  When I was first here, I went back to Columbus every year to sing with Columbus Light Opera. We were a professional Gilbert & Sullivan company.  I premiered by first show BIGGER IS BETTER in Columbus four days after 9/11.  I have also done DO I HAVE TO GET NAKED? in the US.

Q:  And your next project – any plans?

JK:  I know I will do a show about ageing, but I'm not sure when.  I want to keep honing and perfecting this show.  Then I want to perform it all around NZ and anywhere else that will have me.

02 March 2015

Zany caterpillars and the world’s most magnificent beard at NZ’s biggest arts festival for children

“One week left until the Festival begins and the opening performance, Caterpillars, is selling fast!” says an excited Capital E National Arts Festival producer, Melanie Hamilton. “And we were met with more exciting news when we got to the office this morning…”

The Kallo Collective’s Caterpillars at the Capital E National Arts Festival, opens Sat 7 March at Circa. Photography by Gemma Tweedie.
Following a fantastic season in Auckland, where Caterpillars saw its New Zealand premiere; the production by Kallo Collective and produced by Show Pony, won Best Costume and Best Theatre Production at the Auckland Fringe. With only 27 tickets left to the 10am show this Saturday (7 March) at Circa Theatre, bookings will be highly recommended as this show WILL sell-out.

Show Pony has produced another production as part of the Capital E National Arts Festival, also on at Circa Theatre. On Friday of last week at Anvil House, Beards! Beards! Beards! invited an audience of eager school children to preview the hilarious play, in which our heroine, Beatrix, tries to grow the world’s most magnificent beard.

Beards! Beards! Beards! preview at Anvil House.
“Children are the most honest critics of work, and we were thrilled to say that they enjoyed a high energy sneak preview of what’s to come to the stage very soon.” – Melanie Hamilton

Even at E Central on Queens Wharf, children are coming in to create their own beard. Open daily from Monday – Saturday form 9.30am – 3.30pm.

There are only two public performances of each Capital E National Arts Festival production on at Circa: Caterpillars on 7 March at 10am and 11:30am, and Beards! Beards! Beards! on 21 March at 10am and 1pm. To book for either, contact Capital E on 913-3740 or visit www.capitale.org.nz

The Pianist: "You may witness some fighting knee-nuns, a few seconds of bull-fighting, wine tasting, a trick that took two years to be able to do, and maybe some piano playing. Possibly...."

This week on drama on the waterfront, The Pianist co-creator and performer, Thomas Monckton talks about his hit show that has travelled the world and is now back for a return season at Circa.

Tell us a little about your background – you trained as a clown?

TM: Yes but that doesn't mean I'm available for children's birthday parties or that the movie It is relevant conversation. That's the equivalent of when you're overseas and someone asks where you're from and you say "New Zealand" and then they start telling you about that time they went to Australia. Just so we're clear. I have a red nose but that's just natural because I'm ginger. We get sunburn even in moonlight. I don't wear big shoes or wigs, and I couldn't make a balloon animal if my life depended on it - except maybe if you asked for a tapeworm. 

I have trained in acrobatics, bounce juggling and aerial straps at CircoArts in Christchurch and in physical theatre at the school of Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Being a clown was always my main aspiration from quite an early age. I'm not entirely sure why. At one point at about 11 years old I wanted to be a zoologist even though I didn't really know what a zoologist did (I still don't).

How does a work like The Pianist develop from an idea to an whole show?

TM: The director (Sanna Silvenoinen) and I had the piano as a prop and the context of a piano recital to start with and then we just played around with all the different physical elements of the piano and the piano stool and sheet music to see what ideas we could come up with. We choreographed individual pieces and then put them into a cohesive order which I then performed and realised that I may have been slightly over-estimating my physical fitness level. 

Physical theatre looks ... physical. How do you prepare to go on stage?

TM: Usually I just stare blankly at a wall and think to myself "it would be useful to do some stretches now" and then I go on stage and do the show and then afterwards I lie face down on the floor in a puddle of sweat and think to myself "I should have stretched before the show".

What can audiences expect from The Pianist?

TM: You may witness some fighting knee-nuns, a few seconds of bull-fighting, wine tasting, a trick that took two years to be able to do, and maybe some piano playing. Possibly.... 

You’ve taken the show to some pretty great places – tell us how the show was received in Edinburgh and London?

TM: I wasn't really expecting much from Edinburgh Festival since it was my first time there and it's such a massive festival but it was great! The Queen of Holland came one show and I unwittingly clambered over a princess. She was cool with it. And the show was nominated for a Total Theatre Award for best circus show. 

I have always wanted to be part of the London International Mime Festival so I was stoked to be programmed. I wish I had time to check out all the other shows in the programme because it looked amazing. The Pianist sold out and the audiences were really up for having a good time...The weather was terrible. Absolutely dreadful. Gosh.... (I picked up some English while I was there). 

The Pianist opens in Circa One on 7 March and runs until 21 March. To book, please visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.