A big tick for Manukau Performing Arts' production of Sweet Charity. They have gathered top talent to create a great night's entertainment. Megan O'Reily is Charity Hope Valentine, the big eyed, tarnish-proof waif who gives her last dime to the less fortunate and her heart to any guy who will look her way. O'Reily's role is huge and she superb. One cannot help but love her. She's the deal real. The production benefits further with a stellar supporting cast and ensemble.BWW Review: SUNSET BOULEVARD at Playhouse Theatre Auckland September 25, 2017
'That Bloody Woman' brings a new, fresh vitality to the world stage' It touches the spirit of humanity and packages it in a powerful mix of sexy-punk juxtaposed with the historically authentic, smokey haze, flashy lighting and emotionally charged totally awesome music that will literally rock you.BWW Review: LAST LEGS at ASB Waterfront Auckland September 19, 2017
Hall's characters exemplify that age does not wither, eccentricities are accented, reputations less important and the quest for satisfaction and meaning from life heightens as the reality of mortality looms closer. Join the swindling Garry and Trish, the disillusioned Helena and her ageing husband Angus as they encounter the sexy Kitty and the practical Edna at the swanky Cambridge Retirement Home on the North Shore of Auckland. The very elderly Shelia, Eve, Joyce and Jessie also shed their own brand of 'old' as mortality looms.BWW Previews: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at Off Broadway Papakura Auckland July 13, 2017
Glizty, intriguing AND a true story! Papakura Theatre Company's 'Catch Me If You Can' is a extravaganza of singing, dancing and a brilliant story line. As a bonus there's a 12 piece jazz band on stage comprising of some of Auckland's top musicians led by Musical Director Edwin Randell.BWW Review: IN THE HEIGHTS at Spotlight Theatre Papatoetoe July 10, 2017
As the curtain rose on the opening scene of Auckland Theatre Company's Amadeus my ageing aesthetic senses were overwhelmed but like a kid unleashed at a new playground I moved from sensory overload to great joy as the stunning artistry before me sunk in. It was simply beautiful.BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Off Broadway Papakura April 21, 2017
Auckland Music Theatre Company has sold out for it's cabaret season of 'Expect the Unexpected'. After the opening night hype there was a rush for tickets and this speaks volumes. The show is a potpourri of cleverly crafted entertainment. The vocals are stunning and supported by great moves and characterisation.BWW Review: THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK at CentreStage Orewa March 10, 2017
Bravo to CentreStage Theatre company for their choice of show. Writers Dempsey and Rowe have provided a wealth of witty and tuneful material which, combined with some clever staging and talented performersresults in a refreshing night of entertainment.BWW Feature: ARTIMUS at Burning Man Productions March 10, 2017
The applause received by the cast of 'Peter Gynt [recylced] after the opening night performance was strong, appreciative and long; extended by an audience who had indeed been taken on a 'wild ride'. The presence of the writer, called up to the stage was appropriate. Bravo.BWW Review: MEA TAU at Basement Theatre Auckland March 1, 2017
I found Kennar's work and the performance so engaging that time became timeless as I feasted on the enthralling piece that unfolded before me. My mind was guided to the connections of movement and message through both the strengths and frailty of human nature.BWW Preview: THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK at CentreStage Orewa February 28, 2017
This musical show ticks all the boxes. It is hysterically funny, with outstanding music and directed by the NAPTA Award winning Director of the year, for 2016, Alexandra McKellar.BWW Preview: POP UP GLOBE at Ellerslie Racecourse February 15, 2017
Pop-up Globe is a multi-award winning New Zealand company that produces spectacular Jacobean theatre, particularly the works of Shakespeare, in the world's first full scale temporary working replica of the second Globe.BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Gore Musical Theatre November 14, 2016
Avenue Q is a multi-faceted, clever piece of theatre that requires complex and expertly delivered theatre techniques that would challenge the most knowledgeable and experienced theatre practitioners.
Yet Gore Musical Theatre, a community theatre group in a rural town of 12 500, have produced this show. It is highly entertaining.
Two key factors that made the show successful are; the smart move on behalf of Gore Musical Theatre to employ professional director Hamish McGregor who has specific expertise particularly in puppetry, and an outstandingly talented cast.
While McGregor has successfully nurtured the talents of the cast, they needed to give him something to work with.
And they sure did.
The singing is sensational. The vocals were strong, deliberate and controlled. Great work Musical Director Sonya Barker.
The story revolves around the character of recently graduated 'Princeton' (Tyler Dowling) as he struggles with his 'adult-world options' including negotiating his relationship with 'Kate Monster' played by Fran Brabant. These two were outstanding in their roles. Brabant's rendition of 'There's a Fine, Fine Line' was a highlight.
While most scripts ask for commitment and dedication, this script demands it; 110% plus to pull it off.
There is no margin for complacency. Errors would lose the audience in a heartbeat.
The cast were faultless in their cues and delivery.
Casting a first-timer in the role of Gary Coleman was indeed a risk but one that paid off. Fraser Gulliver was convincing in his role and endeared the audience.
The musical involves the use of puppets, operated by unconcealed puppeteers, alongside human actors.
Puppeteers need to be faultless whilst singing, moving and acting using a mostly foreign accent. No mean feat!
To further complicate things, some of the 'live-hands' puppets require two puppeteers and I was in awe of Nicole Weir who was often the 'second person' having to manipulate the puppets alongside the main actor. The fluidity in which she moved, and at times impromptu, was achieved with a high level of skill and fully supported the story. She also sung beautifully. She is the full package.
Those who played more than one character, notably Emily Mason and Craig Wadsworth moved in and out of their roles seamlessly. They played the 'bad-idea bears' who represented temptation and conscience and were a highlight for me.
Dressed in expletives the story line is presented in a very earthly, 'non PC', R18 way and explores the issues of the purpose of life, love, helping others. The characters are stereo-typical, exaggerated and mostly very funny.
Rosie Brown provided the perfect balance of sultry and mean (until she becomes a born-again-christian) in her role of Lucy.
Bradley Gentle playing duel roles of Nicky and Trekkie, was talent personified. His characterisation was totally excellent.
He engaged the audience the minute he stepped on stage and was simply delightful. The same can be said for Brad McSoriely in his excellent portrayal of Rod a guy struggling with his sexuality.
Blokey-bloke Brian (Marty Grounds) and his fiance Christmas Eve, (Shelly Ballantine) played contrasting characters, juxtaposed in their world-experience but cynical in commonality were an entertaining duo.
The cast should be very proud of themselves for successfully melding the puppets, assistants and human characters into one glorious entity of entertainment.
Oh and special mention to the tech team. The sound was perfect!
There's so much happening onstage that I'm hoping to go again.
Avenue Q Gore Town and Country Club November 11-19th
Tickets available St James Theatre Gore, Phone: 03 208 7396
https://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2016/nov/avenue-qBWW Feature: AVENUE Q at Gore Town And Country Club October 31, 2016
This year Gore Musical Theatre's theatre restaurant is the hilarious Avenue Q.
Inspired by the beloved children's show Sesame Street, Avenue Q creates a puppet-filled world that is a little more reflective of the difficult, R-rated realities that we face when we learn that real life isn't as simple as we dreamed it might be - but perhaps, suggests Avenue Q, life is all the more colorful and worthwhile for it.