BWW Review: VOICES ACROSS THE DITCH. AN AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRE RELIEF CONCERT at Te Auaha
22 February 2020
Reviewed by Lindsey Rusling
Ellie Neal, a graduate from Toi Whakaari and a familiar face in the Wellington Musical Theatre scene, was the instigator and organiser of a stunning line-up of local talent brought together to fundraise for the Australian Red Cross and WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue in a one-off concert at Te Auaha on Saturday night.
With a number of sponsors including local theatre companies, Toi Whakaari and Te Auaha aiding the effort and 100% of tickets sales and raffles going to both charities, the concert raised over $6,500 for Australian bushfire relief.
The audience was raucous, enthusiastic and supportive as fans and friends were treated to a Masterclass in Musical Theatre performance from some of New Zealand's established, and rising, stars.
Jane Keller set the mood for the evening with a brash and boozy rendition of Jeannette's Showbiz Number from The Full Monty followed by a myriad of artists performing a set list of songs from numerous musicals such as: The Baker's Wife, Waitress, Book of Mormon, Wicked, Dear Evan Hansen, Chicago, The Secret Garden, Next to Normal and Ghost among others.
It was an absolute pleasure to hear new repertoire interspersed with the tried and true and, although it is virtually impossible to point out the highlights in a concert chock full of such excellent musical storytellers, special mention must be made of both Ali Harper (a consummate professional whose comfort on the stage and relationship with the audience is palpable) and the superlative Chris Crowe whose performance of Bring Him Home from Les Miserables created soothing balm for the soul and held the audience breathless and spellbound in wonder and awe.
With Nick Purdie as the adorable emcee and the flawless accompaniment of the incomparable Mark Dorrell, the concert was warm, intimate, fresh and honest. Its impeccable simplicity is something that Wellington has been missing for a while and the entire evening was a total delight wrapped up in a good cause. Well done, Ellie and team! When can we do it again?