Oh what a night… Tommy, Bobby, Nick and Frankie on their way [by James Wenley]
Len Brown announced at a press conference this morning at the Civic Theatre’s Wintergarden that the smash hit international musical Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, will be coming to Auckland in April 2012.
Jersey Boys is a key part of the Mayor’s dream of the new Supercity becoming a true “events and show city” and driving tourism to Auckland nationally and internationally. Aucklanders shouldn’t have to go to Australia to see the latest hit shows, and Brown wants to attract more here.
Len Brown admits he hasn’t seen Jersey Boys yet, but looks forward to seeing and supporting it. It has been playing in Melbourne and Sydney over the last two years, and while Brown was tempted to go, he’s glad he waited.
Honestly, Iago... [by James Wenley]
It might be called Othello, but this one is very much Iago’s show.
Iago, the villain in Shakespeare’s Othello, has long threatened to outshine the titular tragic hero. Shakespeare for one gave him substantially more lines and a relentless destructive driving force, plotting to destroy the Moor that he says he hates. Why Iago does what he does has forever been debated by the academics, and his motivations make him a continually fascinating character, an interpretative draw card for directors and the actors who play him. This is not to diminish Othello’s story, rich in its own issues of identity, difference and the tragic fall, but Iago is far more fun. Especially, in Jesse Peach’s production.
From the Moor of Venice, to the road of yellow brick... [by James Wenley]
If you’ve noticed journalist Jesse Peach’s absence from the TV news recently he has a very good reason. He’s taken five months leave to pursue his passion. Theater director Jesse Peach is now at work.
His first play, Othello, is one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies about the titular Moor who is fooled by the villainous Iago into believing that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful. Peach sums up the play as “true love being destroyed by jealousy’.
Jesse says its feels very free and exciting to be able to dedicate the next months solely to theatre. “It feels fantastic because I’ve been working so hard towards it, just so I can survive through this time. It’s going to be really great just to have the single focus because you can only have one focus when you’re doing shows like this I think. “
He sees clear similarities in being a journalist and a director for theatre – “It’s all just about telling a story as clearly as possible, so it’s kind of doing the same thing. My thoughts on TV journalism are that you want to get the truest part of the story but also the truest part of emotion from people. So it’s kind of complimentary in a way I think.”
Even Sweeter... [by James Wenley]
The second week of Short+Sweet lives life firmly on the theatrical side.
After noting that I hoped for a more diverse program of plays in my review of Week One, it was certainly delivered this week. These plays on the whole were not only different thematically to each other, many were also ballsy, thrilling, seat-wettingly hilarious and really played and experimented with what is possible to achieve on stage in 10 minutes. At the end of the show, when you look down at your voting papers to choose your favorite play, I found it an agonisingly tough decision. It was a night of a great many favourites.
Dark and Twisted [by James Wenley]
After a string of collaborations and monologue directing, Thomas Sainsbury returns to The Basement with The Family Wilder, setting his style to the dark camp of the thriller genre’s twist and turns.
Harry McNaughton plays the softly-spoken writer Clive, who is tasked with writing the biography of Wilder Family patriarch and ruthless businessman Bill. Bill, played by Bruce Phillips, is Alasdair Thompson’s kind of bloke. Generally denigrating to anyone but himself and full of pithy put downs, especially towards his no-hoper children Art (Todd Emerson) and Elizabeth (Fern Sutherland). His son may be useless, but he would never stand for his daughter to take over the business. The loathsome Art and Elizabeth, despite being siblings, have something of a Macbeth/Lady Macbeth relationship, and are plotting to kill their father. Hapless Clive might just be the person they need to help them get away with it…
Yvette Parsons, always a treat onstage, rounds out the cast as the staunchly Christian housekeeper/personal assistant Hodge, fiercely loyal to her employer, and can carry a good song.
Sweetness in Shortness [by James Wenley]
I reckon the art of a good 10-minute play is a decidedly tricky one. Whether it leaves you laughing or with something more to think about, within those 600 seconds it generally has to traverse the entire three act structure from inciting incident to satisfying conclusion.
The Short+Sweet festival, compromising of very strictly determined 10-minute plays (run over time to your peril) started in Australia and has been expanding internationally ever since. Last year it debuted in Auckland to something of a theatre vacuum in January, introducing many new theatre faces. Its sophomore year sees it return to the Herald Theatre, now in the middle of the year, with a potent mix of both established and new thespians looking to make magic in 10 minutes or less. This year has a larger focus on homegrown work, though Australian and American plays represent the international part of the festival.
Auckland audiences have been treated to the first ten plays of the festival this week. The evening moves swiftly, a well-oiled stage crew handling the many set changes with speed.