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Composing celebrations: Lansdown Narropera


Some big birthdays are being celebrated with some big sounds at Lansdown Homestead this month. The Tai Tapu venue will come alive with the sound of Beethoven in celebration of 170 years of Canterbury being settled, and 250 years since the composer was born.

 

 

The four hour-long daytime concerts on December 16 and 17 will celebrate the 170th anniversary of the settlement of Canterbury and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven.

This December, audiences can enjoy the music with four soloists from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in the spectacular Golden Room in Lansdown Homestead.

On December 16, there will be two concerts. At 11am, CSO concertmaster Dr Martin Riseley and Professor Terence Dennis will play Beethoven’s sonatas 7 and 10 for violin and piano.

The performance is dedicated to the morning arrival at Lyttelton of the ship Charlotte Jane and the birth of the Canterbury settlement on December 16, 1850.

At 2.30pm the same day, CSO violinist Cathy Irons and pianist Jeremy Woodside will present a delightful programme in a style familiar to early settlers.

The two daytime concerts on December 17 feature music by Beethoven, exclusively.

At 11am, Jonathan Tanner plays sonatas 5 and 8 for violin and piano with Woodside.

At 2.30pm Tomas Hurnik plays sonatas for cello and piano with Woodside and the delightful variations on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’.

Tickets are $25 and available from The Court Theatre box office, (03) 963 0870 or online.


 

What we all need now…


Award-winning Christchurch singer Ali Harper’s concerts are synonymous with uplifting locals in hard times, and her latest show is no different. Metropol catches up with Ali ahead of The Look of Love, where she puts her own special touch on Burt Bacharach’s hits alongside pianist Tom Rainey.

 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BURT BACHRACH’S MUSIC WHICH RESONATES WITH YOU?
“Burt’s music is brave, inspiring, creatively exquisite and abundantly beautiful – values I greatly admire. He spent a large part of his career writing about moments in history that were particularly troubling. His music has been, and continues to be, a tonic for so many.”

YOUR WORK IS CLOSELY LINKED TO UPLIFTING THE PEOPLE OF CHRISTCHURCH, AND BURT BACHARACH’S SONGS HAVE LONG BEEN A SALVE FOR TROUBLED TIMES. TELL US WHAT PARALLELS YOU DRAW BETWEEN HIS WORK AND CANTERBURY’S OWN STORIES OF RESILIENCE – ESPECIALLY IN THESE PANDEMIC TIMES.
“The sense of community and family has never been stronger. We discovered our own special ‘bubbles’ in those months in lockdown which gave us a new sense of gratitude for what we have and what is truly important. We have faced challenges as a city ten years ago with the earthquakes and last year with the Mosque shootings which shook us both physically and emotionally. Now as we face another upheaval, this show really could not have come at a better time. It’s as if the Bacharach anthem ‘What the World Needs Now’ was written for 2020 not 55-years ago.”

WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT FROM YOUR SHOWS?
“With all my concerts I really enjoy taking that fourth wall down and inviting the audience in as if they are in my living room. It’s like meeting old friends again and making new ones. Because Burt’s music is so well-known, I know everyone will be smiling and feeling those waves of nostalgia right from the opener.”

LOCKDOWN HAS HAD A LARGE IMPACT ON THE ARTS SCENE IN CHRISTCHURCH, HOW HAS IT IMPACTED YOU AND HOW ARE YOU ADAPTING?
“Yes, I had a lot of work postponed around the country. Fortunately, my other passion besides performing is teaching yoga and singing. I have set up a home studio called Cultivate Joy which does exactly that, teaching all ages, all abilities.”

YOU’VE BEEN PERFORMING FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS IN NEW ZEALAND AND ABROAD, WHAT KEEPS FUELLING YOUR PASSION FOR YOUR CRAFT?
“Connecting with people and giving not only myself the platform to express myself, share stories and honour the great artists I adore, but to allow people to escape, to reminisce and have a fabulous experience in the theatre. Something I, with so many, will never take for granted again.”


 

Parenting Unfiltered


Book a babysitter, because a hilarious, unfiltered and acclaimed play about raising children is coming to town.

 

 

Based on the hugely popular book of the same name by blogger Emily Writes, Rants in the Dark is running at The Court Theatre this September.

The show takes aim at the pressures on modern mothers to be “Instagram perfect”, highlighting the challenges of parenting in a refreshingly honest and eloquent way.

Writes, a mum of two, is the editor of The Spinoff Parents and has written for New Zealand’s biggest media outlets, edits her own website and has written two bestselling books.

She rose to popularity overnight when she penned her first blog post, ‘F*** off, I’m grateful’, during a late-night baby-induced wakeup.

The next morning, she had nearly a million hits and more than 15,000 emails praising her honest and hilarious “rant”.

The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Dan Pengelly says the play’s hilarity appeals to everyone.

“If you are a parent, or have ever had a parent, this play is for you. It shines a light on the often unspoken but universal experiences of parenting and takes audiences on that emotional journey.”

Adapted for the stage by writer and performer Mel Dodge, award-winning director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford and Good Times Company producer Bevin Linkhorn, Rants in the Dark stars well known Kiwi actors Renee Lyons (Funny Girls, 800 Words), Bronwyn Turei (Go Girls, Shortland Street – The Musical) and Amelia Reid-Meredith (Shortland Street).

Rants in the Dark runs at The Court Theatre from 29 August – 12 September 2020.


 

Courting change in the central city


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.


 

Thrilling theatrical magic


It’s a fantastical lead up to Christmas as the curtain rises on The Court Theatre’s spectacular summer season of The Wind in the Willows, which was last performed there in 1995.

 

Director Ross Gumbley says audiences can expect thrilling theatrical magic, whether they’ve seen the show before or not.

“Our approach is not to try and recreate something from the past, but how we can best tell this story now and really keep the core of The Wind in the Willows,” explains Gumbley of the exciting new concept.

“Our idea is that the animals in the story have found this old abandoned theatre and they’re putting on the play!”

Costume Designer Stephen Robertson describes it as a period piece with a twist. “From a costume point of view, it’s really big.

There’s probably going to be 150 costumes – and each costume has about six to nine pieces!”

Audiences will love the onstage antics of 22 stars, costumed as rabbits, squirrels and other woodland creatures getting up to all kinds of theatrical mayhem.

The main cast includes Cameron Rhodes as Toad; Eilish Moran as Mole; Gregory Cooper as Ratty; Tom Trevella as Badger and Andrew Todd as Albert.

“It’s wonderful for families, but it’s not purely a kid’s show,” Robertson says, “The Wind in the Willows is one of those timeless pieces like Mary Poppins – it’ll always be with us.”

The Wind in the Willows is playing at The Court Theatre from 23 November.

For bookings phone 0800 333 100 or visit www.courttheatre.org.nz.


 

Skills on stage


Local Year 13 student Sarah Lawrence will be heading to London to tread the boards at the famous London Globe theatre next year.

 

 

One of four students from Christchurch (two are from Cashmere High and one from Catholic Cathedral College), she will be joining 24 of the most talented young actors from around the country, as members of the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company.

During their two weeks in London, they will watch professional performances and also have 12 rehearsals, taken by a Globe director, of scenes from one of Shakespeare’s plays which they will then perform on the Globe stage in front of an audience. An additional week is spent in Stratford Upon Avon where they will watch more performances and take part in tours of the village where Shakespeare was born.

A member of the Court Theatre Youth Company and one of 48 students selected for the SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) in September, Sarah has been able to hone her skills and confidence on the stage.

“It was incredible to have the experience of working with nationally and internationally recognised directors at the NSSP, and also so much fun to work with such talented actors and creatives from around New Zealand,” she says. “The experience of playing Lady Macbeth in the Pipitea Marae on the Wellington waterfront then again in the Legislative Council Chamber in Parliament was unforgettable.”

Sarah’s mum Samantha says she is thrilled for her daughter, who has grown as a performer (both as a musician and actor), supported by the opportunities and tutoring at Rangi Ruru.

“Rangi has given Sarah the freedom to involve herself in a wide range of activities available in Christchurch and New Zealand, alongside her academic studies. She’s fortunate to have had a lot of high-level music tuition and tutelage in theatre, and has learnt by performance in front of an audience, rather than through a series of exams. It’s given her confidence to take risks, artistically speaking, and really fly,” she says.

When asked if this talent and drive runs in the family, Sarah immediately mentions her 74-year-old grandfather who was a bass operatic singer but chose not to pursue it professionally.

“He’s amazing,” she says. “He’s been performing in the last few weeks in his hometown in Australia, in a local production of Phantom of the Opera. My mum says she remembers seeing him dressed up as the grandmother in a panto version of Little Red Riding Hood, dancing to the Time Warp. Mum was my age at the time and was ready to be completely embarrassed, but was so proud of him when she saw how talented he was. I love that story,” she says.

Sarah will sit her Year 13 scholarship drama examination soon, under the tuition of Peter Rutherford, the Director of Theatre Arts at Rangi, and has already completed her scholarship music exam under Janet Kingsbury, Rangi Ruru’s Director of Music.

She heads to the UK in July and until then will be completing her school year, at this stage intending to study Law and Arts at Victoria University for the first half of 2020.