Category Archives: Event

Plays, lectures & other outings

Nobody Songs

Songs for Nobodies
Court Theatre

By Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Ross Gumbley
Musical Direction by Richard Marrett
Featuring Ali Harper

Share in five life-changing encounters between legendary divas and the everyday women whose lives they touched, interspersed with the songs that made Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holliday and Maria Callas icons of our age.

Structurally, this “play’ has problems. It’s just five disconnected episodes of encounters with great singers. The characters being portrayed are not the singers, but associates, acquaintances and passers-by. Then the actress breaks into song of the singer, not being played but encountered. When you break it down, this doesn’t make any sense.

What does make sense is a vehicle for a very talented actresses and singer. And Ali Harper certainly fills the role. She has been performing in Christchurch for decades and can handle the wide range of accents and styles. From Country and Jazz to Opera.

It’s an outstanding performance, but a play certainly NOT.


For years, Vanya and his niece Sonya have laboured on their family’s country estate in relative harmony. But when Sonya’s father returns from the big city with a glamorous new bride, unfulfilled desires and fierce family loyalties collide to destroy the status quo.

This bittersweet exploration of love, hope and longing is heart-breakingly human, achingly poignant and laced with irony.

Annie Baker’s revitalization of this theatrical classic brings the play into the 21st century while retaining the timelessness of Chekhov’s wit, insight and emotional depth.

Usually the Court Theatre will copy reviews onto it’s web page. This show didn’t have any and the one I found at was only luke warm. I hadn’t heard of this Chekhov play, and it’s not surprising. It was originally set in Russia around 1889 (pre-revolution) but the new production uses music from the 1970’s. So it’s confusing are to when it’s supposed to occur. The story is rather inconsequential and like a soap opera. Family members meet, fallout, resolve and leave.

The most notable thing was some of the actors.  Esther Stephens was in ‘That Bloody Woman’ and plays Ngaire Monroe on Westside.  Sophie Hambleton (who I thought looked familiar) plays Carol O’Driscol on Westside. This TV3 production has a third season and will broadcast sometime this year, so something positive was learned from the night.

Boy + Dog

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Based on the novel by Mark Haddon
Adapted by Simon Stephens
Directed by Lara Macgregor
Featuring Tim Earl

Fifteen-year old mathematical genius Christopher Boone sees the world differently to everyone else. He knows all the countries of the world and their capital cities, every prime number up to 7,507, he doesn’t tell lies and his favourite colours are not yellow and brown.

When the neighbour’s dog is murdered, Christopher takes the investigation into his own hands and uncovers secrets that lead him far from home and change his life forever.

All the reviews rave about this:

A white stage reveals the inner-workings of a beautiful mind in this flawless piece of modern theatre.

If this was a movie, it would be nominated for an award.

In fact it’s won many….

It won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, 2015 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Broadway Play, the 2015 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play, and the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play.

Given my experience with awards, it’s unlikely I would like it. Certainly the performance of Tim Earl is notable, if only for the amount of dialogue he has to remember.


It’s got a very ‘look-at-me, I’m a modern innovative piece of theatre’ tone to it. It certainly has humour and pathos, but I’m a cold hearted bastard and wasn’t taken in by the Boy’s story.  It could have done with more plot and less silly acrobatics.


The 2017 Armageddon event, at Horncastle Arena.

Miltos Yerolemou

This guy I didn’t know. He is in Game of Thrones playing a character I had forgotten from the books. Mildly entertaining fellow with little experience at these type of events.

Chad Coleman

Another unknown, although I had heard of ‘The Wire’  and ‘The Walking Dead’. Currently in The Expanse a series based on the James S. A. Corey novels.

Billy Boyd

Everyone’s favorite Hobbit and the most experienced conference talker, indulging in an  impromptu walking completion with the audience.


Ivana Baquero

Currently filming the second series of The Shannara Chronicles in NZ. Turns out she played the girl in Pan’s Labyrinth.

The least experienced presenter, but with an outgoing personality she spend most of the time talking with the host and swapping geekish stories.


By Ross Gumbley & Allison Horsley
Featuring Lara Macgregor & Eilish Moran
Weddings can be murder…

Prudence has come to the Hitchcock-themed MacGuffin Hotel for her niece Eden’s wedding to Montgomery Parker (yes, the Montgomery Parker). But when Eden’s disapproving mother Constance arrives, everyone finds themselves embroiled in a case of dangerous lies, suspicion and murder!

Cut off by a landslide, run by an amorous Austrian and filled with family secrets and homicidal tendencies, the MacGuffin is about to become home for a twisted story that even the Master of Suspense couldn’t have imagined…

It’s a black comedy Agatha Christie/Hitchcock story set in modern times (despite a very old-fashioned set). Eilish Moran is always good as the mother and Kathleen Burns brings out a familiar German accent.

It’s generally a fun romp, however the ending attempts to change the tone. I would have preferred an ending where the baddie gets away with evil doings. It may be unfashionable, but more fun and dramatic.

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