Taking the Risk [by James Wenley]
“…It was this lack of “weight” (a not too easily defined term which an actor, if not a member of the audience, would understand) that Mr George Henare needs to work on if he wishes to pursue the acting profession. His is a good, powerful voice, he has strong features… yet a lot of these advantages are dissipated by his unsureness in terms of movement, distribution of body-emphasis, and… style.” - Review of Awatea
It would be a brave reviewer indeed who would dare to write such sacrilegious words about Mr George Henare today. That was George Webby, in 1968, in an across-the-board withering attack on the original stage production of Bruce Mason’s Awatea. For Auckland Theatre Company’s 2012 revival, Sharu Delikan called Henare’s acting “flawless” and “truly inspired”, with Henare coming full circle to play blind patriarch Werihe Paku, whose son Matt Henare performed as in 1968. 2012 was a year that in many ways belonged to Henare, with headline performances in Awatea, Peach Theatre Company’s Death of a Salesman, and Educating Rita for the new Newmarket Theatre Company. Henare stocked up on the actor carbs to deliver three weighty performances indeed, along with a lightness of touch and twinkle in the eye, it was breathtaking to see Henare at work.
As I embarked this year on a Masters project looking at forgotten ‘landmark’ New Zealand plays from the 40-70s, Awatea defined my year. I went ‘behind enemy lines’ to see a little of that production come together. 2012 was a year I had one foot in the past, and one in the present. What would 2012 look like, in several decades time?
Madge is looking a little different… [by James Wenley]
Michael Griffiths is a busy man. Not only is the Australian actor starring as Bob Crewe on a little show called Jersey Boys 8 times a week, but he’s also prepping for his one man cabaret show, to be performed on his one night off.
And it’s not just any Cabaret show either. The material girl herself, Madonna, is coming to Auckland! In In Vogue: Songs by Madonna, Michael Griffiths plays Madonna – but with no accent, costume or wig – just him on the piano taking us through her life and hit parade as we’ve never heard them before.
Michael expressed himself and answered my questions…
So this must be the life – you get to tour to Auckland in Jersey Boys AND put on a cabaret show on the side. Was this the plan from the start?
When Jersey Boys first announced we were coming here it was the first thing that crossed my mind and I'm always on the lookout for cabaret venues. It wasn't until we did a couple of rehearsals in the Wintergarden (under the Civic) and I saw the grand piano hiding down there that I realised it was the perfect venue for IN VOGUE and then it was full steam ahead!
The good kind of Jersey [by James Wenley]
As I take my seat in the Civic, the Jersey Boy stage looks surprisingly non-descript. It’s a grey and drab industrial looking set, complete with walkways and chain mesh. A pretty ordinary set for an international musical, but then, the origins of the real Jersey blue collar Four Season members were rather ordinary too. Is this to be the stage for the multi-award winning Broadway Smash that has finally wound its way to little young Auckland?
As soon as local boy Vince Harder appears as a modern day French rapper, singing Ces Soirees-La (a hit in France in 2000, we know it better as Oh what a night…), the stage transforms as only mega-budget musicals do, lighting up in brilliant colour and moving all over the place. It’s a spectacle rich experience – microphone stands rise up from the floor, and attractive pop-art graphics on appear screens to accompany the storytelling, but all that is blown away by the blended and distinctive sound of the show’s four leads as The Four Seasons, giving us their all with hit after hit. The most effective moments of the show are the sheer musicality of the foursome as they come right to the edge of the stage, concert style, and perform the tunes. They don’t make songs like these anymore – simple hooks, but packed with emotion, all topped with Frankie Valli’s remarkable falsetto. Or rather, make that Dion Billios’ remarkable falsetto…
What will the 2012 Auckland Theatre Scene bring? [by James Wenley]
The Auckland Theatre Scene goes deadly quiet in January. In my last post, as I looked back on 2011, I was grateful the curtain had dropped on a particularly busy year for theatre. Now, however, I’m firmly suffering theatre withdrawal. Luckily, the hopeful promise of 2012 productions keeps me going.
Here’s what’s setting off my thea-dar as we begin the year:
2012 is looking a little unusual…
The first thing to note about 2012 is that the early months of the year promises some particularly out of the box, genre-mashing theatrical happenings. I’m always keen to experience things that are just a little bit different, and leave you with many questions (eg: Uh… What did I just see?).
Two events at The Edge have the potential to be particularly mind and body expanding. For those that think they’ve seen it all, these two platforms will provide some surprises…
Bathing with Elephants and other exotic revelries breaks the theatre drought late this month, and gets attention for a suitably imaginative and evocative name, but the shows’ description really has my mind swirling:
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.