23 July 2015

Bizarre and Brilliant

The Young and Hungry Arts Trust Ambassadors are a group of keen bean Year 12 & 13 students, who attend shows at Circa and others theatres throughout the year and write reviews.  They joined us at The Ugly One on Tuesday night.  Here is a review from Eva Poland.

Reviewed by Eva Poland, Chilton St James School.

Simultaneously one of the most bizarre and one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen, Circa’s production of The Ugly One is deeply haunting from its slow start to sudden dramatic finish.

The play tells the story of Lette, a plug-inventor at a large corporation who is denied the right to present his product at a convention after being told that he is incredibly ugly. When this is confirmed by his wife and friends, Lette eventually becomes so disturbed that he opts to have a total face re-shaping from a plastic surgeon. This causes a radical change in Lette’s life; suddenly he is loved by everyone and paid a much higher amount of money than he was before.

Throughout the production four actors are used to play seven key characters, with the actors never leaving stage and no transitions between scenes. This can be rather confusing at first but not to the detriment of the storyline, the actors handle the task smoothly and all of them are equally accomplished in playing their roles.

By far one of the most effective aspects of the show was the script, which is sharp, honest and almost unbearably clever. Thankfully the director has been kind enough to not overcrowd it with complicated action or scene changes, and the humour of the writing shines through. If anything, the unusual structure of the play adds to the effect of isolating the audience and making them question the morals of our society and whether or not the amount of importance we place upon beauty can be justified.

The set was another factor that contributed to the frank, unfiltered genius of The Ugly Ones. A stark, simple, grey and familiar looking “office”-type setup was plausible when it doubled as a house, an hotel, a convention stage and even a rooftop. Lighting and sound were minimal, drawing the focus toward the acting and storyline.

Overall The Ugly One is a funny and thought-provoking play, both brilliantly performed and directed. The most poignant and most terrifying scene is perhaps the last, a scene that more than any other encouraged the audience to think about not only our love for beauty, but our love for ourselves. The last moment of the play sees the audience witness a passionate kiss, preceded by Lette meeting an old friend of his who was so taken by Lette’s new face that he decided to have it recreated on his own head. “It’s me,” Lette gasps, “I’ve finally found you… me.”

The Ugly One is on at Circa until 8 August.

BOOK NOW at Circa Theatre  801-7992 / www.circa.co.nz

20 July 2015

From Hobbit to Holmes

Following his lead cast role as Bifur the Dwarf in The Hobbit trilogy of movies, William Kircher returns to the stage after a 20 year absence with The Hound of the Baskervilles.  This week in drama* on the waterfront, William talks to Colleen McColl about Bifur, Sir Peter Jackson, the joy of being back on stage.
William Kircher as Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Photo by Stephen A'Court.
Q:  You have recently been seen in The Hobbit movie trilogy playing Bifur the Dwarf which must have been very rewarding. How did you prepare for the role? And what were the highlights and challenges of working with Sir Peter Jackson? 

A:  Pretty much as soon as I signed off on the contract, which was around six months before we began principal photography, the production arranged a top personal trainer at one of the most prestigious gyms in Wellington.  I trained very hard!  Then for ten weeks the main cast came together for a 'boot camp'.  We trained everyday in a diverse range of skills including body movement, dialogue, weaponry, horse riding, stunt fighting, dialogue, improvisation, teamwork... it was a very intense and rewarding experience. Almost like going back to Drama School! Peter Jackson is a fantastic "Actors' Director". He is a creative genius, who has a definite vision for his art, and yet remains open to suggestions and ideas from his actors. He is very respectful of the actors craft and it was an incredible honour to be chosen to be part of a team that worked with one of the greatest film directors in the world for over three years! 
William as Bifur in The Hobbit.
Q:  Has appearing in these movies impacted on your career? 

A:  Being in the films has opened doors all over the world for me. It has enabled me to take my acting career to an international level.

Q:  Twenty years ago you were in Brilliant Lies also directed by Ross Jolly. It must be interesting to be back working with someone after all this time? 

A:  Ross has always been one of my favourite Directors and it is very fitting that my first project back on stage after all this time is with Ross at the helm. He has put together an amazing cast and I am loving every single second of the rehearsal period. It is like a family reunion for me. It is so great to be back working at Circa!

William on stage on Brilliant Lies.
Q:  This is the first time in twenty years you have appeared on stage. Apart from The Hobbit movies, what have you been up to?

A:  I have always stayed in the creative industries, but in the late 90s I concentrated more on television and film acting. Then I moved away from acting for several years and worked in the corporate side of the screen business. I worked as a Producer with Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment. In the meantime I also worked with Nicole, my wife, at her talent agency Possum Talent. I wrote and directed some theatre, plus many comedy dinner shows, and I developed my singing career with our 60s vocal group The California Dreamers. We also were hard at work bringing up our family!
William and his wife Nicole at the World Premiere of The Hobbit at the Odeon Theatre in London.

Q:  Had you read Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories before you began working on this production and in particular The Hound of the Baskervilles

A:  Yes... read quite a bit of Conan Doyle when I was a younger and The Hound of the Baskervilles was always a major favourite!

Q:  It would be hard to ignore all the influences from actors playing Sherlock Holmes. Is there an actor you have seen in the role of Sherlock that you have admired and has it influenced your interpretation in any way?

A:  No actor in particular has influenced me.... in fact you can say that ALL the actors I have seen playing this role have influenced me.

Q:  This is a very different way of playing this story with four actors playing all the many roles. Has that brought challenges for you?

A:  The style of this show is wonderfully theatrical... and yes, all the actors play diverse roles. I love this, as it takes a great deal of craft and skill to bring these roles to life. Many years ago I was in a major hit show titled Bouncers that utilised exactly the same technique. Bouncers was a massive hit at all around the country and this culminated with a sell-out season at Circa that then shifted to the Opera House! So this style is not new to me... it is true 'Theatre' and I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge of working in this way once more.

Q:  Last year was very busy and successful for you. What were some of the highlights? 

A:  Throughout the year I got to work all around the world in Germany, Sweden, London, America and Australia.... then in December I was in Hollywood walking the Red Carpet at the Dolby Theatre for the premiere of the final Hobbit film. What a fantastic adventure... and I count myself very, very fortunate!

Q:  What is the favourite role you have ever played and why? 

A:  Well, of course, apart from playing Bifur in The Hobbit trilogy... I have to say Sherlock Holmes. Because as an actor, you are only as good as your next role!

Q:  And one that is an ambition to play? 

Sherlock Holmes! And maybe the villain in a James Bond movie!

The Hound of the Baskervilles opens Saturday 25 July 2015.  BOOK NOW:  phone 04 801 7992 or online at www.circa.co.nz
William with his Hound of the Baskervilles cast mates (from left to right) Nigel Collins, Gavin Rutherford and Andrew Foster.  Photo by Stephen A'Court.

08 July 2015

Young, Hungry and Beautiful

The Young and Hungry Arts Trust Ambassadors are a group of keen bean Year 12 & 13 students, who attend shows at Circa and others theatres throughout the year and write reviews.  They joined us at the beautiful ones on Tuesday night.  Here are two of the reviews for you to enjoy!

Reviewed by Maddy Reese, St Catherine’s College

An enthralling marriage of singing, dance and drama, the beautiful ones is an immersive story which plunges audiences into the hyper-real scene of midnight techno clubs. Lead character Ihia is a lovestruck member of a club’s dance crew, pining away for his lover Hana, who left him many months ago. However her sudden return sets in motion a string of events that threaten to tear them apart again… or possibly reunite them forever. Interspersed with utterly incredible dance sequences, musical numbers and projected light shows, this drama is unlike any other production I have seen before. 

Writer and director Hone Kouka expressed that his ambition for this production was to essentially create eight music videos spliced together with a simple-but-effective plotline in between. This ambition could not have been more perfectly realized, as the drama was convincingly suspenseful and the dance numbers were captivating to watch. I – as a fellow dancer – felt a longing to take to the stage with them. However, when this wish actually came to fruition, I was quite surprised. The involvement of the audience was a previously un-experienced phenomenon; the last thing people expected was for the performers to take their hands, pull them out of the audience and onto the dance floor, during one of the more charismatic musical numbers. This involvement proved to be an incredibly invigorating aspect of the show – now we were able to form a palpable connection with the drama and actors onstage, and it was one of the most fun parts of the whole performance. Pair this with music that all but moves your body for you, and one has a sure-fire method of giving audiences the best stage experience possible.

the beautiful ones is an eloquent combination of set design, musical incorporation and all three aspects of theatre: song, dance and acting. Easily one of the most innovative, successful and exciting productions I have seen this year. It demands you to involve yourself in your entirety: not only mind and body are required, but heart and soul as well. In return, the beautiful ones gives you everything back, rewarding you for its demands. This drama will leave half of your soul on the stage even as you walk out of the theatre.

the beautiful ones - on at Circa until Saturday 11 July


Reviewed by Yasmin Yumul of St Mary’s College
Projections of street scenes, graffiti, rugged walls kick-started the performance which later on evolved to Maori patterns, nature scenes and interiors. Disco coloured lighting frolicked the dark stage. This ominous atmosphere and the characters’ sensuous costume commanded attention. It was a consistent atmosphere that unified the performance. 

Although the show was modern, it kept a Maori motif which made a direct connection to a lot of the character’s ethnicities and the marginalised theme of the show.

The actors had great stage presence as they dominated the floor, the air space and the corners of Circa theatre. It was a delight to watch every dance number, particularly Ihia’s performance as he longed for his lover Hana. Emotion was evident in every movement of his muscles.

The music was at times contemporary topped off with some sick beats.

There were smooth transitions between dance numbers, the music was fluid and so was the lighting. However, the transitions between scenes seemed protracted and gave the impression of ‘technical difficulties.’

The inclusion of the audience in the performance was excellent. An inviting hand from the characters to hop onto their sexy enigmatic world and groove into Ardie’s voice cemented a bond between the two ecospheres (reality and fiction). 

Passion, intensity and flair were palpable in the characters’ dancing. However, it was not only the dancing that engaged the audience’s attention. It was also their personalities; Ardie’s suave attitude, Juju’s cheekiness, Kotiro’s relatability. The fact that the characters’ had their own distinct movements and mannerisms that continued even in moments when they were not the main spectacle of the scene heightened the show’s professionalism. 

The dialogue between characters was ineffective through most of the show as it became lost in the atmosphere.

The show revolved around Ihia waiting for his lover Hana to come back. The plot was not executed well. The revelation of the twist was poor as there was little involvement, reactions from the main characters (i.e. Ihia, Hana) and it seemed to have been disregarded too easily. In addition to this, the plot itself seemed to be 2-dimensional, predictable, there was no depth or breadth achieved in the exploration of the love story. It was a surface plot about a boy waiting for a girl.

Overall, however I would moderately recommend it. It is a stimulating, and wonderful treat for the eyes and those that adore dance.

the beautiful ones is on at Circa until Saturday 11 July.

07 July 2015

The incredible Lyndee-Jane Rutherford

Lyndee-Jane is a well-known face around Circa Theatre, next on stage with The Ugly One (opening Saturday 11 July). But, do we really know all of the incredible things this talented woman has done?  This week on drama* on the waterfront, we take an in-depth look at the force that is Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.

That face!  Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.
Originally from Feilding, Lyndee-Jane has worked extensively as both an actor and a director in theatre and television since graduating from Toi Whakaari/New Zealand Drama School in 1993. She has performed in over fifty professional theatre productions, including Who Wants to be 100?, Troy the Musical, Calendar Girls and In Flame, for which she was nominated for Chapman Tripp Actress of the Year in 2003.

She was also nominated for Supporting Actress of the Year for both The Hollow Men in 2008 and Mauritius and 2010. In 2010 she toured nationally with Geraldine Brophy and Pinky Agnew with Grumpy Old Women and again in 2011 with their own play, Party Girls.
Lyndee-Jane, photographed by Paul McLaughlin

Lyndee-Jane is also a well respected director, having led successful productions at professional theatres across the country.  She directed A Shaggy Dog Story, Who Wants to Be 100? and Penalties, Pints and Pirouettes at Palmerston North’s Centrepoint Theatre, and Love Puke, Becoming the Courtesan and Hamlet Dies at the End at BATS Theatre in Wellington. She won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Most Promising Director in 2006 with her production of Love Puke and was proud to have directed the Capital E National Theatre for Children production of Songs of the Sea that toured NZ and Australia. Lyndee-Jane has also enjoyed directing a number of student musical productions for Toi Whakaari/New Zealand Drama School, Whitireia and in 2009 she directed the sell-out smash Young and Hungry hit, Sit On It.

Lyndee-Jane is often recognised for her roles in television series such as Skitz, The Semisis, Telly Laughs, What Now TV, The Hothouse and the pre-school sketch comedy show Giggles. She directed the third season of Giggles (TVNZ Kidzone) and has also directed various field-stories for The Erin Simpson Show, What Now and The 4.30 Show.

In 2013 Lyndee-Jane directed two productions at Circa Theatre, The ImpoSTAR and the hugely successful Midsummer – A Play with Songs, for which she was nominated for Director of the Year at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.

She also acted in Shop ‘Til You Drop at Centrepoint Theatre and directed Miss Bronte in Melbourne for the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Early last year she directed a new season of the “triumphant” Miss Bronte at Circa Theatre.

Paul Waggott and Lyndee-Jane Rutherford in rehearsal for The Ugly One.  Photo by Tabitha Arthur.
Lyndee-Jane is also on the Circa Council, a board of experienced theatre professionals who run this theatre. 

In the middle of 2014, Lyndee-Jane directed Grease for Wellington Musical Theatre and was thrilled to be invited back to direct Mamma Mia.

Her most recent project was the Broadway musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, right here at Circa. This "wild, funny and frivolous spectacle" (Theatreview) was one of the most ambitious projects Circa has undertaken in its 40-year history.

Lyndee-Jane says she is "very excited to be back on the Circa Two stage with a fantastic cast, crew and a play that will be fun and entertaining."

Lyndee-Jane plays 'Fanny' in The Ugle One.  Photo by Tabitha Arthur.

Text UGLY to 3920 to be in the draw to win!

Don't forget you still have a chance to enter The Breeze ‘Embrace Your Inner Beauty’ giveaway.

This prize pack for two is valued at over $900 and includes:

•    2 tickets to the NZ Premiere of The Ugly One at Circa Theatre on 11 July, followed by drinks and nibbles;
•    A voucher for Encore Restaurant at Circa Theatre to spend on anything you want: dinner before the show, desert and coffee or even a nightcap;
•    A ‘Staying in Touch’ massage for two from East Day Spa;
•    A week of free yoga and trx classes for two from Empower Yoga. Plus if you love it (which you will) you can grab yourself and your buddy a great reduced rate for future classes;
•    The entire Tailor Skincare range. Tailor is a Wellington based, NZ made, organic skincare range and is a wonderful alternative to the harsh products on most shelves today;
•    A beautiful gift basket full of health and beauty supplements, among other exciting goodies, from Hardy’s Health Store Lambton Square.

The Ugly One is on at Circa from 11 July – 8 August.

BOOK NOW at Circa Theatre  801-7992 / www.circa.co.nz