International border closures have not dimmed the lights on Canterbury’s inimitable Bread & Circus Buskers Festival, which is this year celebrating talented performers from Aotearoa’s own backyard. Until January 31, the vibrant street festival will showcase more than 30 energetic artists and performers at venues across Christchurch.
The line-up includes award-winning comedians like The Topp Twins and Jarred Fell, cheeky host and acclaimed entertainer Rutene Spooner, cabaret superstar Nomi Cohen, and world-renowned clown Fraser Hooper.
Other acts include interactive shows like Blackboard Theatre’s musical quiz show, What the Quiz is this?!, The Biggest Little Circus, a five day workshop for aspiring teen buskers, and a busker-filled brewery tour.
Festival Director Scott Maidment says the 2021 lineup is a silver-lining to the disruption of Covid-19, as organisers can help locals rediscover the circus and musical talent here.
“The sheer breadth of artists available to us has meant that despite losing the ‘World’ in our title for 2021, we’ve not lost the ‘world-class’ from our programme.”
ChristchurchNZ General Manager Destination and Attraction, Loren Heaphy, says: “At a time when cities around the world are struggling to hold public events, Bread & Circus is an epic celebration of arts and culture, and we welcome Kiwis from across the country to Ōtautahi Christchurch to see what the fuss is about.”
Browse the programme and find showtimes or buy tickets at
Grab your godmother and touch up your tiara – Cinderella is coming to town! Magical transformations, heaps of hilarity, sparkling song and spectacular scenery is set to fill the stage of the Isaac Theatre Royal for nine shows this festive season.
From December 15 to 20, the fairy godmother of all pantomimes, Cinderella, will deliver a new imagination of the enchanting rags-to-riches fairy tale – a timely gift for those who’ve missed out on live theatrical entertainment for much of the year.
GMG Productions, the team behind hit international productions of Disney’s The Lion King, CATS, Singin’ in the Rain and more, is assembling New Zealand’s top talent to stage this timeless tale.
New Zealand theatre royalty and star of the Hobbit trilogy, Mark Hadlow (The Hobbit series, Meet the Feebles) will play The Baron, father to Cinderella and her supercilious step-sisters.
Channelling their inner mean girl, Broadway and West End favourite Hayden Tee (Les Misérables, Matilda), will pair up with The Voice Australia finalist Caleb Jago Ward (We Will Rock You, Jesus Christ Superstar, The 10 Tenors) as the wickedly nasty Step Sisters.
TV personality and well known What Now? host Erin Wells is preparing to slide into her glass slippers and dazzle audiences as Cinderella. After a public search, her Prince Charming has been announced as London-based Kiwi performer, J. R. Ballantyne.
Musical direction will be under the baton of innovative maestro Andy Manning, while the cast will be under the spell of director and ingenious improviser Gregory Cooper whose writing and directing credits include That Bloody Woman, MAMIL and Rumpelstiltskin.
The Isaac Theatre Royal is working harder than Cinders herself to make sure the theatre is spick and span for audiences expected to fill the auditorium.
“After the year we’ve had, it will be wonderful to see so many smiling faces in the theatre experiencing pantomime on our stage for the first time,” says Bob Mangan, Isaac Theatre Royal CEO.
Get ready for the show of the summer as international hit Jersey Boys makes its Canterbury debut!
Running at The Court Theatre from November 21, Jersey Boys is the Tony-Award winning smash musical that tells the rags-to-riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, offering one hell of a night out at the theatre.
“We are extremely lucky to be able to bring this production to Christchurch audiences,” says director Stephen Robertson.
“It’s going to be spectacular.”
From humble beginnings on the streets of New Jersey, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons became one of the biggest bands in the world – but almost lost it all.
Jersey Boys chronicals the band’s story with wit and punch, set against a sensational musical playbook.
Including musical hits Sherry and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, the actor playing Frankie Valli has a huge challenge to take on, emulating his infamously high falsetto voice.
Luckily, The Court have been able to secure international star Kristian Lavercombe!
Holding the world-record for the most performances in The Rocky Horror Show, Kristian is thrilled to be back home in Aotearoa for Jersey Boys.
“I love musicals that show a grittier side of life and Frankie Valli’s story is an absolute rollercoaster,” says Kristian.
“It’s a true story that’s told warts and all. Combine that with some of the most iconic music of the 20th century and it’s a win-win situation!”
Running from November 21, book now at the Court Theatre’s website.
Design work is underway for the new central city home of The Court Theatre, signalling welcome progress for an anchor project outlined in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.
Local Athfield Architects have been chosen by Christchurch City Council and The Court Theatre to undertake the project and have revealed they’ll be consulting with UK-based Haworth Tompkins which specialises in theatre design.
The new theatre will occupy the site on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets – opposite both Tūranga library and Te Pae convention centre.
The theatre will form a part of the performing arts precinct outlined in the recovery plan, along with the Isaac Theatre Royal, the Town Hall, and The Piano event facility.
The building is expected to house a 360-seat auditorium, a 150 seat black box theatre, two rehearsal rooms, one or two education suites, administration, and excellent hospitality through its bars, coffee shop and eating areas.
Court Theatre Chief Executive Barbara George says the new theatre will provide facilities for local and touring performance artists and musicians, “and will play a critical role in attracting people to the city centre, generating economic activity and investment”.
The Court Theatre is New Zealand’s largest professional theatre company, and has been operating from an old grain storehouse in Addington since the 2011 earthquakes ended its tenure at the Christchurch Arts Centre
Construction is expected to commence on or before June 2021, with completion expected by late 2023.
A 10-year dream to create a dedicated, world-class music hub is about to become a reality for international platinum recording artist Sacha Vee – and it’s all happening right here in Christchurch.
In February, SOLE Music Academy will move to its new premises on the ground floor of the historic Woods Mill Building in Addington, offering specialised vocal and songwriting sessions, production skills and artist development.
Sacha Vee knows first-hand the reality and challenges of navigating the music industry, having built a successful career that’s seen her perform across the globe.
Following success in New Zealand, the neo-soul singer became a top 10 finalist on The Voice of Holland which was heard by more than four million people in Holland and led to her signing a publishing deal with Downtown Music Benelux and working with Polish hip-hop star O.S.T.R.
Their collaboration garnered more than 50 million views and streams and the Fryderyk Hip Hop Album of The Year Award in Poland in 2017.
In 2016, Japanese record label Sweet Soul Records released her debut album Luminous worldwide, which made it to no.3 on the NZ Heatseeker charts.
It’s this experience that made her want to create a hub that teaches the next generation of artists all the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to achieve their goals.
“I wanted to create a service I needed when I was starting out,” Sacha explains.
“We’re not trying to sell a dream, we’re very realistic and honest with people. There is so much hard work involved.”
Sacha set up SOLE Music Academy two years ago from a single studio located at The Piano, to provide a clear and guided pathway for musicians, songwriters and producers to establish a career in music.
As director, she is now creating a community based around the SOLE concept, which stands for a ‘Source of Learning and Empowerment’.
“For decades, our local talent has been forced to look further afield for greener pastures,” Sacha says.
“SOLE creates a hub for our Christchurch talent to learn and be empowered. I’ve been thinking about this vision for over 10 years, so to have the building that will house this vision is unreal. It will support and allow artists to stay in Christchurch.”
Sacha says the move into the new building will mean the academy can continue to grow and expand, but also provide opportunities for already-established musicians and music industry professionals in the city.
Currently, four local musicians, KAMANDI, Will McGillivray (Nomad), Georgie Clifford and Sacha herself – all successful artists in their own rights – act as tutors and mentors to students from beginner to advanced levels.
“It was important to me to have mentors who are actually performing and releasing music to inspire and share their knowledge and experiences… the highs and the lows,” Sacha says.
This practical, focused approach means programmes can be tailored to the individual’s goals.
“It’s my hope that SOLE will also be providing a space and income for artists in town. SOLE’s mission is to help guide and get people on a pathway into the music industry, demystifying it and learning about what it
takes to sustain a music career.”
To help the project come to life, SOLE Music Academy launched a PledgeMe campaign on 18 November to ensure the community has quality rooms, gear and technology available to students.
The campaign closes on 10 December, but the team would love to hear from anyone keen to offer support, so visit www.solemusicacademy.co.nz for more information.
“The fit-out bill is getting close to $200,000, but after years of dreaming and saving, one final push is needed,” Sacha says. “We would love the public’s help to deliver this to our Christchurch musicians and make Christchurch the musical hub of Aotearoa.”
Imagine a world where everyone wears the same clothes, watches the same movies and thinks the same thoughts, where individuality is extinct and live music is banned under the control of an all-powerful global company and its tyrannical boss.
In this futuristic comedy by Ben Elton, more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hits have been reimagined; wrapped into the story of an incredible dystopian world that is as unique as the music from which it was based. Successful West End shows like We Will Rock You (WWRY), complete national and international tours before the rights to stage them are given to community theatre companies. Showbiz Christchurch is the first to receive these for New Zealand, with the organisation then responsible for envisioning a whole new production.
It ensures what you see on a local level is special, with alterations made right down to minute detailing on the costumes and sets which were designed in the UK especially for WWRY. The set, props and costumes came to Showbiz late last year from Queen Theatrical, the owners of the musical. The set was made by award-winning set builder Stufish Entertainment Architects, which is known internationally for creating the ‘Rolls Royce’ of sets, while the costumes were created by BAFTA and Olivier awards-winning costume designer Tim Goodchild.
Despite a prestigious career designing for stage, TV and film, including more than 60 West End productions, WWRY was a singular task. Goodchild joined the original London production team just six months before the May 2002 opening and turned his talented hand to creating more than 150 costumes – a task which can be likened to designing and making an entire couture collection.
While he took to the mammoth task with his usual attention to detail, which includes extensive research, WWRY required something ‘next-level’. The creative endeavour included visiting photographic libraries and antique shops for old magazines to get inspiration for the costuming, which meant Adam Ant, Ziggy Stardust, Kiss, Boy George, Skyhooks, AC-DC all played a part.
The finished product is a recreation of the entire spectrum of rock. Not just the Queen period, Goodchild has captured Bay City Rollers and Vivienne Westwood and Boy George within the ornate and exceptional quality costuming. His costume ‘bibles’ – all bursting with sketches, notes, photos and material samples that chart the progress of the costumes from idea to stage – are now splayed across the tables in the Showbiz Christchurch wardrobe department, amid the fusion of tartan, torn tights and distressed denim.
There are several of these bibles and the Showbiz Christchurch team were blown away by the extensive and detailed notes that came with the costuming, that too was exceptional quality and detailed. Multiple sizes of key costumes – such as one of the 8kg Killer Queen costumes – have been created for the diverse range of performers to play the roles, during the musical’s global journey. Throughout the world, legions of devoted audiences have turned WWRY into a global success and, since 2002, more than 16 million theatregoers in 28 countries have rocked out to this unique musical.
Make sure you get your tickets so that like the Bohemians, you too can embark on the search to find the unlimited power and freedom of rock music! Book online at www.showbiz.org.nz/wwry or 0800TICKETEK (0800 842 538).
Back to back hits from two of the biggest names on Broadway, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be performed at the Isaac Theatre Royal, with four performances from 13-15 July.
American born Porter wrote more than 800 songs across a five-decade career, conquering both Broadway and Hollywood. His soaring melodies, offset with urbane and witty lyrics, gave rise to his signature musical genre known as ‘the Cole Porter song’. Iconic musicals like Anything Goes, Can Can and Kiss Me Kate remain stage and screen classics, finding new audiences with every decade; his greatest songs covered by modern stars from Michael Bublé to Lady Gaga.
British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the best-known name in modern musical theatre. The first composer to have four musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway since 1953, he has written some of the world’s most loved and successful musicals including Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar and CATS.
Broadway Hitmen features favourites from these two musical theatre hit makers performed by an onstage orchestra under the baton of Ravil Atlas, along with soloists and a large chorus.
Amongst the soloists will be West End singer/actor Nic Kyle, who toured with Elaine Page in 2012; soprano Charlotte Taylor who has performed with NZOpera and Showbiz; jazz and blues artist Kate Taylor of the All Girl Big Band; and Kira Josephson who recently played Nessarose in the Showbiz production of Wicked.
Bookings through Ticketek, 0800 842 538, www.ticketek.co.nz/showbiz or www.showbiz.org.nz/broadway-hitmen.
Winter in Ōtautahi has never looked so exciting, or enticing, as our city plays host to a myriad of events from art and theatre, to wine and babies. Talk about spoilt for choice!
8 – 9 June
NO Productions Theatre presents Jeffrey Hatcher’s fast-paced psychological thriller at the Christchurch Art Gallery. Described in one review as: “Sex, Art, Nazis and a classy 20th century icon, all wrapped up like a tasty cultural burrito”. noproductionstheatre.com/what-s-on
SAVE GOVERNORS BAY JETTY – ART AUCTION
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own an historic piece of jetty art. 18 well-known artists, from Lyttelton to Mount Herbert, have created unique artworks depicting their reflections on Governors Bay Jetty. Auction begins at 3pm at the Governors Bay Hotel. www.savethejetty.org/create-to-construct
9 – 10 June
A huge range of products and services on show, plus seminars, demos and workshops. Everything you need to know from Bump to Birth and Beyond! Head to the Pioneer Leisure Centre.
12 July – 21 July
Written by renowned NZ playwright, April Phillips, Swingers is a riotous new comedy about men married to the golf course and their long-suffering wives who’ve had enough. Teeing off at The Performing Arts Centre, Heaton Normal Intermediate School.
NEGOCIANTS FINE WINE TOUR 2018
A selection of award winning wines from New Zealand and Australia. The event also introduces some of the people that craft and stand behind these distinctive, fabulous wines. Quaffing commences 6pm at Hagley Oval. www.negociantsfinewinetour.com
Calling all fisherfolk – it’s time to call it a day; throw the small ones back, reel in your line, remove your waders and swap your tackle for your tux, ‘cos The Court has caught the best catch yet and you don’t want to miss any of the action!
Described as a small town, good Kiwi comedy, The Biggest promises a night of entertainment and laughter as we follow the escapades of Poppa, Pat and Mick in their quest to land the biggest fish, and thereby win their mate Stu a replacement boat for the one he wrote off.
It’s a great plan… except for two small problems – their collective lack of fishing skills and no actual means to catch the fish.
Written by award-winning playwright Jamie McCaskill, this hilarious, huge-hearted new comedy is a story of tough Māori and Pakeha men navigating life in small-town Aotearoa.
The cast is top-notch, with renowned Kiwi actor Mark Hadlow playing Stu; Rob Lloyd as Poppa; Phil Grieve as Pat, and Apirana Taylor as Mick. Nick Dunbar and Juanita Hepi play Jan and Cassie, respectively.
Directed by Ross Gumbley, The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director, The Biggest opens 16 June and runs through to 14 July.
For ticketing information visit courttheatre.org.nz. Book online or call The Court Theatre Box Office 03-963 0870.
According to the Book of Genesis, ‘God said “Let there be light,” and there was light. A group of dedicated Southern Lakes locals may not have divine powers, but each year they deliver an innovative light festival that takes people on an interactive sensory journey like no other.
Central Queenstown will shine brightly for four nights over Queen’s Birthday Weekend when the LUMA Southern Light Project comes to town. The free public event, now in its third year, attracted more than 35,000 visitors in 2017 and has gained a loyal following among locals as well as people from around New Zealand and overseas.
Set within the idyllic Queenstown Gardens and along the waterfront, the festival will transform the giant natural amphitheatre into an illuminated winter wonderland full of art, curated collections of stunning light sculptures and thought-provoking installations.
Luma was the brainchild of SILO, a collective of Southern Lakes professionals which – along with its wider group of fellow hard-working volunteers – is highly motivated to give the region more exposure to culture and creativity, to foster and enhance social wellbeing and develop a stronger sense of community.
Duncan Forsyth, whose day job is General Manager and Winemaker at Mount Edward, contributes countless hours of his ‘spare’ time while wearing the hat of Luma Light Festival Trust Chairman. For him it’s all about wanting to “give something back” by providing an event that is entertaining, accessible, family-friendly and joins everyone together.
“It looks like all the streets are paved with gold in the Southern Lakes,” Duncan says. “But the reality is that it can be a very difficult and costly place to live in and to enjoy. Families are working hard and trying to hold down two jobs… sometimes that sense of community gets swamped.”
Although Queenstown has firmly cemented its reputation as a hub for outdoor activities and adventure sports, Duncan believes the rich and thriving creative side of the Southern Lakes district is often overlooked. “We see Luma as really helping to put our region on the map as a respected cultural and arts destination.”
Without spoiling too much of the surprise, Duncan says this year the aim is to “pull people down a rabbit hole of visual delights”. It’s safe to say that the audience will be stimulated, and enlightened – literally and figuratively. “Every year we want to change people’s expectations of what Luma is about. If you’ve been before you’ll have a new and different experience this time.”
Aucklander Angus Muir, who has been recognised internationally, returns as principal light installation artist, featuring alongside creative art luminaries such as Daniel Brown, Jon Baxter, Puck Murphy, Mapping Mondays and Nocturnal.
Luma Southern Light Project is at Queenstown Gardens/Marine Parade for Queen’s Birthday Weekend (Friday 1 June to Monday 4 June), 5pm-10pm. Entry is free however, a gold coin donation would be appreciated. Car-pooling or taking public transport into town is advised. For more information, visit www.luma.nz.