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Author: Melinda Collins

Wiggling their way to NZ


They perform for littlies, but the star power of the Wiggles is anything but. And the South Island is set to be the first place in the world to hear them perform mid-pandemic. Metropol catches up with Red Wiggle (and new father) Simon Pryce, ahead of the We’re All Fruit Salad! tour.

 

 

 

The beloved children’s band – made up of Emma Watkins, Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce and Anthony Field – will be joined onstage by Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and their newest Wiggly Friend; Shirley Shawn the Unicorn for one of 2021’s most highly anticipated tours (in certain circles) in March.

“We have been to New Zealand a bit over the years,” says Red Wiggle Simon Pryce, who has just welcomed another Wiggles fan, his newborn son, Asher, earlier this month.

“We can’t wait [to come to New Zealand]! Normally we would be touring up to eight months in a year. The New Zealand shows will be the first we’re doing after 12 months! And New Zealand is a beautiful, beautiful place to come to.”

A multiple-choice quiz through the school careers advisor suggested Simon was best suited to being a gift card shop owner, but he ended up studying sports science at university before the grandson of two opera singers found his way to drama school and, later, to The Wiggles.

He had known the original band and done a lot of studio work for them over the years.

In 2012 it was announced that Simon would replace Murray Cook, who retired, along with lead singer Greg Page and Purple Wiggle, Jeff Fatt.

“Murray and I were the same size, so maybe I just fit his skivvy and pants,” laughs Simon. But he was a natural fit – and not just for the stage costume!

“It’s been eight years now, an incredible eight years. For some reason these things happen and you’re in the right place, right time.”

The tour, which coincides with the band’s 30-year anniversary, promises all the classics, with some new songs, dances, drums, bagpipes and banjos.

“It’s such an incredible job, particularly as an Australian performer being able to travel the world. Meeting children and families around the world has been the standout about what we do,” explains Simon, who describes the fortunate position of being able to bring light into the lives of children and families who have been doing it tough, whether financially or medically.

He recalls singing ‘Big Red Car’ to a young boy in hospital who started singing along, when the boy’s shocked father started crying. Turns out, those words had been the most his son had said all year. “That’s really been the foundation of 30 years of The Wiggles and that’s what keeps us going.”

Often touring up to 300 days a year, it’s an intense workload. Band members need to look after themselves, get enough sleep and, a prerequisite, they must love the work! “You can’t be a grumpy Wiggle,” Simon laughs.

“We’re inherently happy people, but when you’re doing shows, it could be the fourth show in a day for us. It’s tiring! But we try to remember that for a lot of the audience, it might be their first time seeing us live, so it’s up to us to give the best show possible.

“The energy of the audience is so infectious; you can’t help but smile and have a great time.”

And with the arrival of Asher the baby Wiggle, he’s going to need all the energy he can get!

The tour kicks off in Invercargill on March 19 and will take the talented team to Dunedin, Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland, Napier and Palmerston North before finishing in Wellington on April 1.


 

Making up for summer


We get it – your social calendar is heating up as fast as the temperatures. So how do you get the hottest looks to sizzle through summer? We’ve got the lowdown!

 

 

EYE-CATCHING
More is more when it comes to eyes this season! Contrasting eyeshadows are catching our eye. And forget the barely there mascara of previous years. This season it’s all about the fan. It’s also the season to let your lower lashes join in on the fun, with coloured eyeliner on the lash line.

JUST BROW-SING!
This summer expect to see plenty of ‘soap brows’; a brushed-up look achieved using soap in place of eyebrow gel. The pared-back brow is also back. Just match your brow pencil to your natural brow colour or better yet, use eyeshadow for a natural look. .

LIP SERVICE
Pink equals perfection this season and everything pink goes, from pastel perfection to dusky rose. Want to go bold? Hot pink is the new red lip. Satin lipsticks and stains are a thing right now. Less likely to melt and smear, they’re just what you want in the summer sun!

LUSH BLUSH
Soft, pastel pink blush is summer’s best friend. It adds a bit of playful colour to your cheeks, without overshadowing the eyes which are playing the starring role this summer. All it takes is a couple swipes of powder blush on top of your foundation to perfect this pretty look..


 

The magic of Marlon


From home in the portside township of Lyttelton, music has taken alt-country troubadour Marlon Williams around the world, from The Yarra Hotel of inner-city Melbourne, to The Troubadour in Los Angeles.

It was the latter where Bradley Cooper spied his Kiwi-born and bred talents, seeking Marlon out to appear in his 2018 Academy award-winning film, A Star is Born.

There have been several film and television appearances since and more still to come out in the New Year. But it’s making music that still has his heart.

Marlon’s new album Plastic Bouquet hit the streets on December 11, his first new music since 2018’s award-winning Make Way For Love, made post breakup from Kiwi folk singer-songwriter Aldous Harding.

Collaboration – a strong theme of Marlon’s career – has once again proven a winning formula, this time with Canadian folk duo Kacy and Clayton’s musical talents providing the
cumulative glue, with the three musicians finding common ground between a lifelong shared passion for western country, folk and troubadour traditions.

It was driving through Europe with his band when he came across the duo’s ‘Springtime of the Year’. “It was an incredible vocal performance and song and it was just one of those musical moments when you get stopped in your tracks,” Marlon says.

“From there I very overzealously reached out to them and asked if we could make music together. Within a couple of days, we had decided to make an album.”

He hopped on a flight to Saskatoon for Christmas 2018 and together they wrote and recorded the bulk of what would become Plastic Bouquet over the course of just three weeks.

“This year being what it is, even February feels like a lifetime ago. So it’s been almost two years to the day. It doesn’t normally take that long, but in this case it has, so we’re super excited to get it out.”

Every December, Christchurch enjoys the start of summer as Saskatoon begins to freeze over. But despite hailing from opposite sides of the world, there was an immediate connection between the trio. “We found a dynamic that worked well, because we all love old Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and have the same sense of humour,” Marlon says. “We’re kindred spirits.”
If there was a theme to the 11-track project, it was the dichotomy of familiarity and strangeness, he says.

“It’s the idea that we both come from the same place musically, but obviously culturally and geographically from somewhere very different, having faith that everything would blend together in a way that makes sense.”

Music has been something that has always made sense for Marlon, whose career has been a natural evolution. “I’m not a well organised person,” he laughs.

“I don’t plan a lot and I don’t think about the future that often, life just keeps rolling on and now this is what I do; I don’t do anything else.”

But he admits there came a time in his third year at university when, with a tour on the cards, he had to make a call between committing completely to music and finishing his degree – the only caveat from mum, visual artist Jenny Rendall, that he take it seriously and commit as much time to his musical pursuits as he had been committing to university.

This lack of planning ahead mirrors his approach to making music as well. “I don’t go into it consciously with intention, unless I’m collaborating, then it might be more systematic.”

Right now, he’s driven by the freedom to explore. “I’m most thankful for this time in my life, being where I’m at right now I’ve got time to figure things out, make mistakes, try and give things enough space to go somewhere new.

“Simply put, freedom of creativity.”

Marlon has been hunkered down in his homeland during the global pandemic, which thankfully fell outside a big tour cycle for the singer, who spends eight to nine months a year on the road. He’s spent the time writing, reading, working on a film soundtrack and learning te reo Māori, the latter for an album he’s working on that will be exclusively in the language.

But for now, he’s enjoying some down time in Diamond Harbour before his New Zealand tour kicks off in February, that will take him from Invercargill to Auckland. He’ll be performing locally at the James Hay Theatre from February 25 to 27.


 

2021 in colour


Colour has long upheld the ability to soothe, to comfort, to uplift and even to enliven, making its use in the home critical to the psychology of a space. As we prepare to wave goodbye to 2020 and welcome in a new year, we look to the colours that we will be embracing in 2021.

 

 

 

NATURAL BEAUTY
We’re all about natural beauty as we optimistically eye-up 2021 and all it has to offer for the home. With a collective longing for earthly connection stemming from increasing technology use, we can expect to see plenty of natural tones within the home, from soft, earthy neutrals and muted greens to gentle mauve-greys. Top picks include turmeric, terracotta, and touches of tan and ochre.

Linen House round tassel cushion

 

Adairs cord cushion

SWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE
Beige and taupe are quickly becoming the new go-to neutrals for 2021, as we crave the comfort of chocolate. Offering the ultimate escapism, there’s little to frown about when it comes to brown. From beige and burnt umber to chestnut and cocoa, this composite colour was a favoured colour choice in the ‘70s and it has stood its ground.

The Montauk Lighting Co ceramic lamp

 

Linen House floral cushion

SHADES OF SUSTAINABILITY
It’s not surprising green is the colour most closely associated with envy, because when it comes to the colours of 2021, the green-eyed monster in us is running rampant. With a general shift towards sustainability, plant-based materials, healthy homes and conscious consumerism, any shade of green goes, but expect to see plenty of soft, neutral grey-greens such as sage and olive.

Mustard Made side table

 

Fenton and Fenton Side Table

SUNNY SIDE UP
If you’re all about the bold and the beautiful, never fear! It’s not all greyed out, muted tones in 2021. The colour experts are clear… no hue expresses hope and reassurance more than yellow. It is, after all, the colour of sunshine, sunflowers and happiness and is an easy way to bring fun and energy to enliven and invigorate your space.


 

Festive feasting


Christmas; it’s almost inextricably connected to food. And, while there will no doubt be the traditional ham, fruitcake and mini mince pies on the table this year, the festive season is also an opportunity to mix things up. We’ve pulled together our favourite ways to do just that.

 

 

When it comes to Christmas feasting, not everything has to be elaborate.

Why not make simple pleasures just a little bit more special?

Roasted carrots – boring! Lemon-maple roasted carrots, on the other hand – divine!

Roast chicken and vegetables too can get a flavourful twist by adding a simple mustard-tarragon sauce and garnishing with summery pomegranite.

Hasselback potatoes look fantastic, right?

They’re also incredibly simple. Why not try your hand at mini hasselback potatoes with chive butter for a clever looking appetiser that is so tasty it isn’t likely to just be relegated to festive feasting!

When you’re done with that, give hasselback butternut squash with maple-brown butter sauce a go. It’s a unique spin on a classic vege, but the addition of mustard, sweet maple and aromatic brown butter transforms an otherwise boring side dish into something exquisite.

Take your mashed potatoes to the next level by loading them up! Crispy smashed potatoes with cheese and bacon crumb is a great way to level up a plain vegetable.

And why not roast your kumara with coriander this year and drizzle it with a mix of yoghurt and lemon juice to give it a tangy finish?

It will feel like all your Christmases have come at once.


 

A Major success


She’s the self-professed “small woman with a big voice”, who went from a three-year-old country crooner to one of the highest accoladed performers this country has seen. But the high note of Dame Malvina Major’s 50-year operatic career is the foundation set up in her name that celebrates its 30th anniversary next year. Metropol catches up with Dame Malvina about her life’s work.

The seventh of eight children, Dame Malvina has been entertaining crowds since first clambering onto the stage to join her siblings at two.

Country music was the family remit. But recognising the big voice coming from the small Malvina, it wasn’t long before her mother was pushing her into opera, despite a personal penchant for Broadway.

“It was a career that happened because I had the voice to do it in the first place, not because I wanted to be an opera singer,” says Dame Malvina.

“I was kind of led along by the success of it and ended up in a place where I didn’t know I wanted to be, but I kept getting contracts and it became my life.

“And in the finish, I loved it; the satisfaction of singing at that incredibly high-powered level, learning the required precision – that’s what stimulated me and I enjoyed that. Then after every mountain you climb you feel the rewards of reaching the top.”

Just before she reached the very top, with the world at her feet, Dame Malvina Major walked away.

A young Taranaki farmer, Winston Fleming, had won her heart and the couple married in 1964, before moving to England where their son Andrew was born.

Dame Malvina was poised for an exceptional international career, but it was home soil and family life that she craved, and, by the turn of the century, she was home.

“I was 15 years off the international scene and walked back in like it hadn’t happened. By then I had three children,” she says.

“When I look back at my career, I think of the words of Frank Sinatra – I did it my way.”

There have been plenty of highs throughout her career; she sang an outdoor concert at the pyramids in Egypt with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, she collaborated with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, she gave concerts to open and close the 2007 Rotary International Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah and she performed at the Covent Garden where she replaced Dame Joan Sutherland in Die Fledermaus. She has sung for kings, queens, princes, princesses and even an empress!

But perhaps her proudest achievement is the foundation which bears her name. “Like a lot of things in my life, it happened by chance,” she laughs.

Dame Malvina had been talking with the New Plymouth West Rotary Club about how lonely she was heading overseas to establish herself at 22.

“I felt like I was in a distant far off place. I wanted to do something to make sure New Zealand students going abroad had a connection and didn’t feel the loneliness I had felt.”

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation was launched in 1991 at Premier House in Wellington, an event hosted by then Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, and his wife, Joan. Almost three decades on, the foundation continues to provide support for talented young performing artists to achieve their potential, through financial assistance, performance opportunities and professional guidance, helping them to prepare for professional careers.

Dame Malvina – who has been a Senior Fellow in Music at the University of Waikato since 2012 – isn’t resting on her laurels. “I’m supposed to be retired,” she laughs.

“I keep saying they have to rename ‘retirement’. I’m certainly not sitting at home knitting or playing golf, though I do that, too! I’m very involved with youth; their future and progress, masterclasses and helping young people, attending performances, helping with the foundation.”

She’s also busy working on plans to create a training school within the foundation that has been in the back of her mind for 20 years.

“The idea is to enable the foundation to become a steppingstone to the world, so rather than sending young people to other parts of the world to train, doing it right here in New Zealand.”

She’s also got 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren that play a big part in her life. “They’ve become hugely important to me and, as I get older, it’s even more important that I
see them and show them my love.”


 

Salad Season


‘tis the season of backyard barbecues and beachside picnics. We’ve pulled together summer’s hottest selection of seasonal salads to make eating well, easy!

 

 

RAW BROCCOLI & SMOKED SALMON
Packed with all the goodies – including fibre, protein, iron and a bunch of B vitamins – raw broccoli makes the perfect salad. Pair it with smoked salmon, black olives, toasted seeds, a creamy avocado dressing and plenty of garlic and lemon for a serious flavour kick.

GRILLED SPRING ONIONS WITH CAPERS & PARMESAN
Grilled to perfection, spring onions make the perfect partnership with ripe slices of avocado. Toss in a dash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salty parmesan, some lightly roasted pumpkin kernels, a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper. It’s the stuff summer dreams are made of.

TRADITIONAL GREEK SALAD
Mix this Mediterranean beauty up with what you have to hand. As a base, throw together cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, red onion, creamy feta cheese, olives, diced capsicum and capers. Dress it with salt, pepper, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil – perfection on a plate.

STRAWBERRY SALAD & ROAST STRAWBERRY DRESSING
Add fresh strawberries, fresh basil and mint leaves, crunchy walnuts, red onion and crumbled feta to a bed of cos lettuce. To dress, blitz roast strawberries with a teaspoon of dijon mustard, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and half a cup of olive oil – divine!

ROAST CHICKEN SALAD
Toss shredded roast chicken with fresh thyme, a dash of lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, garlic, cooked streaky bacon, green beans, croutons, parsley, mint and spring onions. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, the wholegrain mustard and a few good swigs of apple cider vinegar.


 

Summertime blues


Evoking honesty, trust and stability, blue is everything we’re craving as 2020 draws to a close and we yearn for the optimistic offerings of a fresh new year.

 

While colour institute Pantone unveiled Classic Blue as its Colour of the Year in late 2019 with no notion of what was in store in the months to come, it was everything we needed, with the tranquil hue creating an interior antidote to our global stress levels and evoking the peace and dependability we’ve sought from our home spaces this year.

And the best is yet to come.

Blue is making its seasonal debut this summer and we’re excited about the opportunities it represents.

Channel the beach by pairing your summer blues with crisp whites and light timbers, create timeless chic spaces with serene grey-toned blues or get dark and moody with deep jewel-like shades of cobalt and azure.

We’ve pulled together some of our favourite summertime blues to quench your colour cravings.

OZ Design Furniture Cable Knit Cushion

 

Adairs Urn Vases

 

Citta Beanbag

 

Brosa Armchair

 

Brosa Ottoman

 

Healthy hacks


We’re quickly heading into the social – and too often, stressful – season. So, what are some simple seasonal habits we can adopt to keep fighting fit for the festivities?

 

 

ULTIMATE ELIXIR
It’s time to take the work out of working out. Soak up the sun – and a healthy dose of vitamin D – on the tennis court, in the pool or on a hike around Hagley. Known as the happy hormone, vitamin D has been shown to regulate mood and ward off depression, but it also helps support strong bones, muscles and overall health. Combined with fresh air and exercise and you’ve got the ultimate elixir.

A SWEET SWAP
There’s a clever way to eat well that means you can have your cake and eat it too – not that we want you thinking of cake! But if you are, why not think of a healthy wholefood one? That’s right, you can make nutrient-dense sweet foods using vegetables! Think rich beetroot mud cake or kumara brownies. It’s a thing! So why not let you fingers do the walking and find some sweet swaps of your own?

HEARTY HABITS
The key to heart health is to keep moving and that doesn’t just mean getting an extra kickboxing class in after work. From building a fence to mowing the lawn, all physical movement plays a role in keeping your heart healthy. So why not schedule some time in the garden or get your DIY hat on and paint the kitchen? Or maybe it’s just a matter of parking a couple of blocks away from the office in the mornings.

THE POWER OF PREP
Packing your lunch – it seems so simple and yet this small change in your daily routine can help control your mood, your calories and your spending! When you’ve got a healthy lunch to hand, you’re much less likely to find your hand in the company snack box when low sugars hit. Stay energised and productive throughout the day with nutritious options such as nuts, dried fruit, roasted chickpeas and bliss balls.

VEGE UP, NOT OUT
It’s time to vege up, not out, by increasing your vege intake. Aim to have fruits and vegetables make up half of each meal. Why not make half of breakfast fruit and half of lunch and dinner veges? Better yet, throw some green smoothies in the mix and you can have the best of both worlds! For simple summer dinners, combine a marinade with fresh grilled veggies and your favourite low-fat protein for a great-tasting, healthy weeknight meal.


 

Little life-changers


Actor, screenwriter, theatre-maker, wife, supermum – Sophie Henderson wears a lot of hats. But as comfortably and effortlessly as she wears them, it took some time to get used to the fit of the latter.

 

“I was terrified of becoming a mum and losing myself so tried to live nine months like it was my last,” she laughs about unexpectedly falling pregnant with Matilda – now four – while living in Melbourne.

While some find comfort in a large tub of ice cream and others start nesting, Sophie wrote a script!

Now, another whole baby later, that script is playing out across cinemas throughout the country.

Baby Done stars Kiwi comedian Rose Matafeo opposite Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis and was executive produced by none other than Taika Waititi.

Like the little people that inspired the storyline, the film too was a joint effort, with Sophie’s husband Curtis Vowell directing.

Director Curtis Vowell and Rose Matafeo
Emily Barclay (Molly) and Rose Matafeo (Zoe)

The stellar line-up of supporting cast includes Madeleine Sami and Emily Barclay.

You know the movies where the lead characters fall in love, get married, get pregnant and it’s smooth sailing from there on in? Baby Done is nothing like that.

“My hope is that Baby Done surprises and delights audiences, pushing their limit of what’s acceptable for a pregnant woman to do,” Sophie says. “I was not a well-behaved pregnant woman, and this is not a well-behaved film.”

Greenlit when Sophie was pregnant with number two (Silvie, now two-years-old), Baby Done is a “warm-hearted, edgy and comedic take on an old problem in new times”.

“We were excited to have a baby,” husband Curtis says. “But we were also completely and utterly unprepared. The unknown of how we were going to prepare for a child and what impact it would have on our lives began to sink in and we basically freaked out!”

Their experience of impending parenthood was “a comedy with a quiet streak of despair,” Curtis laughs.

“We promise not all of Baby Done is about us, but we relate to the self-denial that comes with growing up and the feeling that you might lose yourself when you turn into a mum and dad. And like Zoe, Sophie thinks she can do anything pregnant!”

We think she probably can, based on the simple fact she has just brought a film to fruition, while juggling not just one, but two little “life changers”.

Written over more than two years, the film was then shot over six weeks in April 2019 before heading into post-production for a year – then of course Covid-19 held up the release.

There’s not a lot of time for rest yet either, with other projects in the works for Sophie (including a film called Workmates about her time working at Auckland’s Basement Theatre) and Baby Done set to be released in the UK and US in January.

While the storyline was written to put her concerns about the possibility of losing part of herself when she became someone’s mum, its production actually gave Sophie a special part of herself to cling onto.

“I’m not gonna lie, it was really hard work,” she says of making a film with little people underfoot.

“Part of writing the film was to prove to myself that I could still fulfil my dreams as a filmmaker. I felt like I was running out of time to do these things and didn’t want to lose my old self.

But those irrational fears come true in the first year; you do lose your sense of self and I was really holding onto this film to hold onto that.

“I also wouldn’t recommend making a film with a two-year-old and a three-month-old,” she laughs.

But much like parenting itself, the hard work of creating a world from your imagination is worth every single sleepless night. “It brings me absolute joy,” Sophie says.

“You fall in love with the characters, you want to do whatever it takes to look after them and you just don’t want it to end.”