Category Archives: Event

Plays, lectures & other outings

PM English

Simon William “Bill” English
(born 30 December 1961)

became Prime Minister-designate of New Zealand and leader of the National Party on 12 December 2016. Since 2008, he has been the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

PM Quits

John Phillip Key
(born 9 August 1961)

The 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand, in office since 2008. He led the New Zealand National Party from 2006 and has announced his resignation on 5 December 2016, effective from 12 December 2016.

Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde The Musical

Music & lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Book by Heather Hach
Based on a novel by Amanda Brownand the Metro Goldwyn Mayer motion picture

Directed by Stephen Robertson
Musical Direction by Richard Marrett

The hit comedy film becomes a fresh, fun and upbeat musical that explodes on stage.

Perky, blonde college student Elle Woods has her life all planned out – but when her boyfriend dumps her for someone more “serious”, Elle follows him to Harvard Law School to prove she’s capable of much more than anyone thought…

It’s a vivacious heady mix of pink, pop music and prancing about. What I liked was the consistantly good music score throughout. Everyone was good, from the lead to minor characters.


Ellie Neal: Elle Woods
Damon Grebert-Wade: Warner Huntington III
Cameron Douglas: Emmett Forrest
Ali Harper: Paulette Bonafonté
Roy Snow: Professor Callahan
Jane Leonard: Vivienne Kensington
Lucy Porter: Enid Hoopes
Kira Josephson: Brooke Wyndham/Ensemble
Nomi Cohen: Serena
Erin Wells: Margot
Monique Clementson: Pilar
Emily Burns: D.A. Joyce Riley/Ensemble/Understudy Elle
Holly Stokes: Kate/Chutney/Ensemble
Kim Garrett: Judge/Store Manager/Ensemble
Ben Freeth: Aaron/Ensemble
Olly Humphries: Kyle/Ensemble
Greta Casey-Solly: Mom/Whitney/Ensemble
Nick Purdie: Dad/Winthrop/Dewey/Ensemble
Emiliano Pereyra: Nikos/Grandmaster Chad/Padamadan/Ensemble
Brylee Lockhart: Courtney/Cashier/Ensemble
Isaac Pawson: Carlos/Pforzheimer/Ensemble
Jack Marshall: Lowell/Reporter/Ensemble
Jeremy Hinman: Ensemble
Hayden Joseph Withers: Kiki/Ensemble
Julia Bell: Bookish Client/Ensemble
Gemma Kearney: Dance Captain/Ensemble/Stenographer


Richard Marrett: Conductor / Keyboard
Ben Eldridge: Guitar
Tim Sellars: Drums
Chris Wethey: Bass
Matthew Everingham: Assistant Conductor / Keyboard
Hamish Oliver: Alternate Keyboard


Ron Hewlett’s lost his job, his mortgage is overdue and his family’s on the brink of revolt. So when a Christchurch radio station offers a million dollars to anyone willing to streak naked at the Super Rugby final, Ron’s got nothing left to lose – except his pants.

How far will Ron go for his family? And how far will he get?

This a comedy is very specific to Christchurch, it features local radio hosts Simon & Gary and references local beaches and sports grounds. The family is very middle-lower class with a sullen teenage son and exuberant daughter who is an expert on military history.

The comedy is very broad and at times you can see the setup coming for the jokes. All done in the best possible taste and with lots of enthusiasm.

There isn’t any show parts for ‘character development’, the story moves at a good pace to it’s surprising end. This is a good laugh throughout and highly recommended. There is even ‘possible nudity’ .

Another Review



Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death.


One of his shows was described as ‘Andrew Lloyd Weber’s latest re-arrangements of Mendelssohn’s greatest hits’
If correct, it means that Mendelssohn didn’t have that many hits. In fact there are many themes and melody’s that re-occur throughout this mussical. Most of the songs are not that memorable. Everyone knows ‘Don’t cry for me’, but I have always preferred ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’.

And it’s not until this song comes along that the music really picks up. Near the eand I’m sure I heard a few bars of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ at the start of the song.

In retrospect, the story has some problems. Firstly it starts with Eva’s death, why I’m not sure as it robs the play of any dramatic narrative. But the main problem is the character of Eva. The play portrays her as an ambitious woman sleeping her way to the top of Argentine society, becoming aloof and a bit power mad before dying at 33. The play does not explain to my satisfaction why she was so loved by her people.

Wikipedia explains her better:
Eva Perón became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation, championed women’s suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation’s first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party.
In 1951, Eva Perón announced her candidacy for the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina, receiving great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working-class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or “shirtless ones”. However, opposition from the nation’s military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952, shortly before her death from cancer at 33, Eva Perón was given the title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” by the Argentine Congress.

Most of this is skipped over in favour of emphasing her affairs prior to the marriage to Juan Peron.

As for the performance, it’s up the the exellent standards of Showbiz Christchurch. The sets were impressive, with large pieces moved around to great effect. The Cast and chorus delivered with gusto and style. Sound was well done, unlike a previous performance where the sound was so loud there was audible clipping.
Sometimes the tempo and number of voices could overwhelm clarity of the lyrics. So overall, just average.


Summertimes 1996

Summertimes Candlelight Opera (1996)

Sat 20 Jan 1996 8:00

——- Program ————-

1. Overture
William Tell – Rossini
Christchurch Symphony Orchestra

2. Now your days of philandering are over
The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart
Paul Whelan (Figaro)

3. She is gone and gone forever
Orfeo ed Euridice – Gluck
Helen Medlyn – Orfeo

4. Fierce flames are soaring
Il Trovatore – Verdi
Helen Medlyn – Azucena

5. Anvil Chorus
Il Trovatore – Verdi
Canterbury Opera Chorus

6. Well ? I’ll go as far away..
La Wally – Catalini
Dame Malvina Major (Wally)

7. Oh, Mimi, false, fickle-hearted
La Boheme – Puccini
Richard Greager (Rodolfo)
Paul Whelan (Marcello)

8. Easter Hymn
Cavalleria Rusticana – Mascagni
Canterbury Opera Chorus

9. Oh I entreat thee sire
Turandot – Puccini
Dame Malvina Major (Liu)

10. Nessun Dorma (None shall sleep)
Turandot – Puccini
Richard Greager (Rodolfo)
Women of Canterbury Opera Chorus)


11. Torriador Song
Carmen – Bizet
Paul Whelan (Escamillo)
Canterbury Opera Chorus

12. Habanera
Carmen – Bizet
Helen Medlyn (Carmen)

13. Brother come and dance with me
Hansel and Gretel – Humperdinck
Canterbury Children’s Chorus

14. Evening prayer
Hansel and Gretel – Humperdinck
Canterbury Children’s Chorus

15. In the depths of the temple
The Pearl Fishers – Bizet
Richard Greager (Nadir)
Paul Whelan (Zurga)

16. Sweet Doretta had a dream
La Rondine – Puccini
Dame Malvina Major (Magda)

17. Te Duem
Tosca – Puccini
Paul Whelan (Scarpia)
Canterbury Opera Chorus

18. Love and Music
Tosca – Puccini
Dame Malvina Major (Tosca)

19 Sextet
Lucia di Lammermoor – Donizetti
Dame Malvina Major (Lucia)
Richard Greager (Edgardo)
Paul Whelan (Enrico)
Helen Medlyn (Alisa)
Edmund Bohan (Arturo)
Ted Rhodes (Raimondo)
Canterbury Opera Chorus


Richard Greager doesn’t look like an opera singer. Meeting him in the
street you might think that with his short stature, balding head and
glass he was an accountant. His best song was “Nessun Dorma”, which he
sung without trying to go over the top too much. I’m not sure if the
applause was for his excellent singing, or the recognition of the song.

Paul Whelan looks out of place in the ’90s. With a beard and long hair
that was in fashion 20 years ago. At well over 6 foot, he looked like
some wild-eyed gypsy. His singing was best suited to the Torriador Song.

Helen Medlyn’s voice was brilliant in “she is gone and gone forever”,
the best song of the night. For the role Carmen she changed into a
bright red dress. Half-way through the song she attacked the conductor (Brian Law) her neck attire.

The Children’s Chorus had plenty of practice in diction. As a result, we
could hear all the words in their 2 songs.

Dame MM was best singing “Sweet Doretta”, her voice easily reaching the high notes.

Overall the good performances were only marred by the threatening wind, fortunately keeping below an annoying level.

|\|igel Baker 21/1/95

Wind Me Down

From June 9 1995


The Windows 95 Roadshow

Sept 6 at ChCh Town Hall.

Welcome to the Bill Gates version of Hell.

I actually like the Stones “Start me up”. It has the raw energy of a
great band at the top (Tatto You – 1981, I have the album).

Unfortunately , they cut the song before “You make a grown man cry” which sums up a lot about Win95. After hearing the song intro
endlessly, it becomes reduced to an aural background. (pity)

The roadshow took up the Town Hall Limes room, mezzanine above the restaurant and the James Hay Theatre.

Along for the ride were about 20 local retailers of software and
hardware, desperately grabbing onto the coat-tails of the $200 million extravaganza. Micro$oft spent a lot on banners, brochures and boxes (most with Win95 printed on the outside).

I went through the exhibitions in about 20 minutes. There wasn’t a lot to see, just lots of computers with the Win95 desktop.

The most prosperous must be ComputerLand. They had coffee & sandwichs for the reps. The main event was Win95, and nobody was going to upstage the reason they were there.

More interesting was the two presentations :

Intro to Win95.

This started with deafening music and a light show. After 2 minutes of this I was expecting the dancing girls to come on !.
You can’t accuse Micro$oft of originality. The presentation was a
direct rip-off of Home Improvement. I hope Tim Allen was paid for it.

Two presenters looking like Tim & Al showed us what to spend our money on. They explained how Win95 supersedes DOS 6.22 by taking a chainsaw to a block of wood wrapped in the DOS 6.22 box.

This was followed by an intro to Win95, showing off the main features.
It ended by showing a full screen movie (with sound) under Win95. What they let slip was that to do this you need a Pentium with 16meg RAM. As he said “With a $4,000 computer you can now do what a $500 TV will do”.

I am still not convinced about Win95. They have changed the close icon from the top left of a window, to the top right. Why I don’t know. The concept of a simple front end menu (e.g. what you got on a 1981 PC) seems to have vanished. Overall, the interface is more complex, rather than simpler.

Some of the mouse movements aren’t intuitive. A lot of the menus start at the bottom left corner (“Start” icon), and move up and across, while holding the mouse down. This must be a problem for anyone with creaking fingers (the writer an exception). I find it easier to pull a mouse towards me than to push it away. Perhaps being left handed makes a difference, what do you think.

The OS doesn’t appear to be developed with touch-screen computers in mind. And it’s still based around applications, rather than documents.
Paper analogies are still used, and a cross-platform multi-media
standard was not mentioned.

Micro$oft Office Presentation

This was more interesting. Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint and
Schedule were shown in their 32bit form (Access still in development).

The most interesting features :

* Auto underlining. Just enter “——-” in the line under some text,
and a full line will be created across the page.

* Word automatic capitalization. ie changing tHIS to This
and capitalizing the first letter of a new sentence. The
multi-threading really helps here.

* Exceptions list for acronyms to be excluded from the above.

* Automatic list generation. When you start a list, the WP
automatically adds the next number.

* Creation of relational databases from tables. This takes tables with
repeating data and creates a relational database.

* Incorporation of Schedule with network project management software.

* Powerpoint can use sound. (must check version at work to see if this is new)

So, for me the most interesting things were the improvements made to the Office package of applications. (At work I’m still using version 2 of MS Word ! ) Of course I could always use OS/2 with Office. 🙂

Despite my last message, Win95 does use proportional slider bars. It
appears that developers have the option, some don’t use it.

Wayne Brady

Wayne Brady Review

(Wednesday 8 May 8PM 2013)

I didn’t know what to expect, the show was called ‘Still Making Shit Up” but I was anticipating some form of stand-up routine.

It was in Burnside School’s Aurora Centre, a good venue where I had
previously seen Rick Wakeman (last year).

As I was entering the theatre, I turned a corner at the top of the stairs and saw Jeff Clark with girlfriend/wife and Jarred Skelton. Jeff Clark is a nephew of the recently retired John Clark. Jeff and Jared are performers at scared scriptless and Jared saw me and prompted a ‘Hi Mate”. I’m not sure if he was being just friendly or recognized me from my frequent outings to his shows.

I was seated in the left section of seats about a third of the way up
and in the middle, three to the left of me and three to the right.
The seats to the left of me were unoccupied until about five minutes
before the show was to start. In walk a couple to take the seats,
he looked very unobtrusive but she was dressed like a Westie from
‘Outrageous Fortune’; tight white pants, leopard pattern boots a pink top with jacket with pumped up and half exposed boobs.

It turned out that it was an improvised show. Wayne had a fellow
improvisor who introduced him and acted with him in most of
the scenes. I didn’t catch his name, but I’m sure I’ve seen him in
‘Who’s Line’. There was also a chap with a keyboard and laptop that
provided the music. They started, before Wayne was on stage, but getting long words for him to rhyme to in a song. Of course someone shouted ‘liquefaction’ which got a good cheer from the audience.

Then, after the first sketch when things were a bit quieter, a phone went off in the theatre. It was ringing from the bag of the woman sitting to my left. She quickly took the phone from the bag and turned it off after a few rings. But the damage was done. Everyone in the audience could hear it and now Wayne knew who had the phone. So he comes up the aisle and stands at the end of the seats talking to this woman, asking her who it was and could he speak to them. She was desperately saying NO, NO but he persisted. Then he comes along the row and as is the custom all the guys to my right and me stand up to let him pass. He comes up and stands between me and the seats in front. So all the guys sit down leaving me and Wayne standing, with him closer than would be socially acceptable.

Now I’m thinking ‘Damn, everyone is looking at me’.
He insisted that he should look at the phone and after getting the audience on his side she hands it over to him. As he was leaving he causally mentioned that she should button her shirt up. He exits the row with iPhone in hand, looking for the last caller. He either couldn’t find it, or thought it wouldn’t be such a good idea and the phone was handed back along the row to the woman. He then went back to the stage and did an alternating word scene about the person who made the phone call.

At one point he asked if anyone had any specialist knowledge he could use in a scene. Not being stupid, nobody said a word. After persisting, eventually I heard a lone voice from up the back. It was Jeff Clark. He came to the stage and was asked about his job. As well as an improvisor, Jeff writes and voices radio commercials. So while he was interviewed about he radio show, Wayne did an interpretation for the deaf.
Of course Jeff kept dropping in the fact that he was also an improvisor and everyone should come and see his show – The Court Jesters.

The show concluded with Wayne’s specialty – making up songs, ending with one called ‘Voluntary Tourettes’.

Well worth seeing.

He did say that they has just filmed a new series of “Who’s Line is it anyway” and it was expected in the fall – not sure if he meant the southern or northern hemisphere version.

Summertimes 1995

Summertimes Candlelight Opera

Sat 21 Jan 1995 8:30

I arrived at 6:40 to find that half the audience had got there before
me. After eats I settled down to look bored & read the program (as one
does at these events). It was a sunny and calm night. Puuuurrrfect

——- Program ————-

Prelude, Carmen – Bizet

Carmen – Bizet
Adrian McEniery
The Flower Song (Don Jose)

Cosi Fan Tutte – Mo’s art
Gina Sanders
Would a maid be worth the wining (Despina)

Don Giovanni – Mo’s art
Gina Sanders & Grant Smith
Place your hand in mine (Zerlina & Don Giovanni)

Norma – Bellini
Dame Malvina Major & Canterbury Opera Chorus
Chaste Godess

I Vespri Siciliani – Verdi
Dame Malvina Major & Canterbury Opera Chorus
Thanks to my good friends

Nabucco – Verdi
Canterbury Opera Chorus
Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

The Marriage of Figaro – Mo’s art
Sir Don Mac-in-tyre
Non piu andrai (Figaro)

Faust – Gounod
Sir Don Mac-in-tyre & Canterbury Opera Men’s Chorus
The Golden Calf (Mephistofele)


During the interval I went for a walk to the back of the audience
(about 150m). I met my sister & her intended B&C. But they were
leaving. Jane had a problem – the temperature was dropping to below
room temperature and she couldn’t see the stage, so they were going
home. Remember that this is the person who regards “roughing it” as
doing without a microwave for the day.

——–part 2—————-

Die Fledermaus – Johann Strauss
(Trans = Die, you flying mouse)
Gina Sanders
My dear Marquis (Adele)

The Merry Widow – Lehar (ha ha)
Grant Smith
I’m off to Chez Maxime (Danilo)

At this time (9:00) everyone was asked to light their candles.
Unfortunately a breeze had developed, making lighting and maintaining the flames difficult. It wasn’t until 9:30 that it was dark enough for the candles to be effective.

La Boheme – Puccini
Gina Sanders
Museta’s Waltz Song (Musetta)

La Boheme – Puccini
Adrian McEniery
Your tiny hand is frozen (Rudolpho)

La Boheme – Puccini
Dame Malvina Major
Yes, they call me Mimi

La Boheme – Puccini
Dame Malvina Major & Adrian McEniery
Lovely maid by the moonlight (Mimi & Rudolpho)

Sir Don Mac-in-tyre
Drink to me only

Carmen – Bizet
Sir Don Mac-in-tyre & Canterbury Opera Chorus
Toreador’s Song (Escamillo)

La Traviata – Verdi
Full Company
Libiamo (Drinking Song)

————— end approx 10:15

Well… what did I think.
The audience was appreciative, but I had some reservations.
Adrian McEniery is an Australian singer (one black mark). I didn’t
find his singing as good as Grant Smith.

Don “floor-rattler” McIntyre was in good form. Unfortunately his voice
was not conveyed to us with the power I know he is capable of.
Probably a result of the amplified, open-air venue. The Toreador’s
song was a BIG mistake. I believe that is written for a baritone
(maybe a tenor). Don’s bass voice just didn’t suit the song. I was
probably put in the program for that same reason that opera singers
_try_ to sing Sondheim (popularity).

Dame MM is (I believe) a “lyric soprano”. So it wasn’t until we got to
“call me Mimi” that she really shone. This would have been the best
song of the night.

This is the second time that we have had Opera by Candlelight. From
memory, Dame MM was at the last one. Overall, I think the first was
the better. Last year we had two good soprano’s who did some
exellent duets. Most memorable was the “flower duet”. There are two
“flower duets”, this is the one that an Airline used for the melody of
a commercial.

BTW, Malvina & Grant Smith will be appearing in “The Merry Widow”
Feb 11-25 (envious)

|\|igel Baker 22/1/95 11:40am