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Cityscape News & Reviews
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The New Zealand Opera returns to the Theatre Royal with another extremely impressive production in Verdi’s La traviata. Sheer audiovisual spectacle from the opening moments to the tragic finale, it’s a glittering night out in the suitably majestic surroundings of the Isaac Theatre Royal. The company continues to operate with what are probably the highest stage production values in the country. Opening in courtesan Violetta’s residence in Paris, the stage is essentially spare but festooned with a dazzling array of chandeliers and drapery and houses an enormous glass box that at turns becomes reflective or transparent through clever use of lighting, and impresses with its sheer towering size alone. Despite such a magnificent edifice and surroundings though, what dominates the stage is Madeline Pierard’s Violetta, dazzling in a red dress and very much the life of the party. Living a life of enjoyable if shallow glamour as a kept woman for...
Cityscape News & Reviews
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The Blue Man Group finally arrives in Christchurch as a fully-fledged international entertainment phenomenon; with permanent shows running in several cities and multiple touring groups on the go most of the time, there’s blue men all over the place. With three of the curious, almost alien-like bald blue fellows currently holed up in the Theatre Royal until the 3rd of July, the city now has the chance to see the rather indescribable show that has wowed crowds all over the world. The Blue Man Group experience is a mixture of energetic percussion on unusual instruments, technical wizardry, audience participation, silent comedy and circus-like tricks. At the heart of it all are the multi-talented performers that are the blue men themselves, mute but wonderfully expressive, and each able to get a reaction out of a packed Theatre Royal with a turn of the head or a raised eyebrow. Their skill set...
Cityscape Eating @
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The butter-poached free-range egg sits atop the thick, lightly-caramelised slices of dry-aged sirloin, its startlingly orange yolk glistening like a rare jewel. Yielding under the knife before breaking, its molten gold contents spill over the steak and cascade down the deep crevices of tender, rare beef in a display of next-level gastro porn. It’s a sight likely to elicit a signature gasp and saucy superlative from domestic goddess/temptress Nigella Lawson, but it has me hurriedly reaching for the chunky, hand-cut golden fries to mop up the sprawling goodness. Ensconced in the swank surrounds of the Heritage Christchurch Hotel’s Old Government Building, the culinary maestros at Continental have breathed new life into Maddison’s Restaurant, the former breakfast-only venue now also rocking fierce lunch and dinner menus. Sustainable, locally-sourced and in-season fare is the order of the day, in alignment with the hotel chain’s Good Food Project. Don’t let the words ‘hotel...
Cityscape Entertainment
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  Image: Rahi Rezvani. With variety being the spice of life, there was never a dull moment during the opening night of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's blistering triple bill Speed of Light at the Isaac Theatre Royal. Sure the mercury was sitting high last night, but that was nothing compared to the inferno of en-pointe perfection radiating off the stage as their triumphant trifecta of contemporary ballet classics Selon désir, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Cacti (pictured) unfurled. Comprising three 30-minute sets and two intervals, Speed of Light delighted with its frenetic, fast-paced action, set to an astounding soundtrack. Minimalist staging in the first two performances, save for some genius lighting, ensured the focus was kept clearly on the ferocious talent on stage, while a few key pieces (white faced boxes, cacti, one cat and more of that genius lighting) in the finale brought performance art to dizzying new heights.Riffing on...
Cityscape News & Reviews
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Transforming Horncastle Arena into the magical and imaginary world of Quidam – thought up by a bored and ignored young girl – is a big ask, but with 20 years of honing their craft behind them, Cirque du Soleil drops you right up smack in the middle of this ethereal ‘hood. On the eve of retiring their long-running world tour (right here in Christchurch!) Québec’s finest are not so much going out with a bang, but rather a super nova with this spectacular performance. At the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the human body, Quidam blends a rich line of comedy with outrageous costuming, some slightly sinister characters, ridiculous feats of strength and gravity defying aerobatics with pulse quickening, heart-in-the-mouth, cringe-inducing moments and haunting song in what is quite possibly one of the best night’s entertainment going. With all the action accompanied by a live...
Cityscape News & Reviews
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If you think the body is a remarkable instrument – you ain’t seen nothing yet’. Christchurch Arts Festivals’ breath-taking entry A Simple Space is exactly what it says on the box – black floor matting, a few lights and up close and personal with some serious acrobatics by way of the tremendous talents of the aptly-named seven-piece Australian circus troupe Gravity & Other Myths.There’s no special effects, elaborate costumes, gimmicks or circus-type frills and, occasionally, no shirts in this pared-back and relentless 60 minutes of gravity-defying human towers, dread-inducing tumbles and falls, ridiculous feats of strength and balance, strip-speed-skipping and taking ‘I could do that standing on my head’ to a whole other level!The deft, dexterous performers totally own the stage, and at times there’s so much going on as bodies are substituted for jungle gyms, skipping ropes, musical instruments and Frogger-style landing pads that it’s hard to keep up...
Cityscape News & Reviews
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You’ll never look at your garden the same after witnessing the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s glorious adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The epic battle between the Fairy King Oberon (MacLean Hopper) and Queen Titania (Tonia Looker) plays out on the stunningly beautiful, magic fairy-dust sprinkled Isaac Theatre Royal stage; now a luminous, ethereal, shimmering elven landscape, courtesy of the talented Tracy Grant Lord (who also rocked some serious fairy cred with the costumes, which left many of the younger female audience pining after the butterfly-wing-delicate ensembles) kept suitably mystical by Kendall Smith’s lighting. Liam Scarlett’s seamless choreography with a youthful bent beautifully combines moments of wit with melodrama, while showcasing the stunning techniques of the talented cast en-pointe as they flit, sweep and float across the stage. Standouts include Kohei Iwamoto’s career-defining lightning in a jar performance of Puck –  as if the character had come to life...
Cityscape Eating @
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“The menu is made for sharing and you’ll want to take a little taste from each of the Sumthin’s,” enthuses our waitress over the toe-tappingly raucous strains of Seth Hamilton and the Jimmy Rainy Quartet, which are saxing their way up to Orleans’ suitably broody mezzanine level.Strange's Lane’s first birthday is in full swing and Christchurch’s ragin’ Cajun quarter is channelling some serious Bourbon Street swagger. Tucked up an unassuming High Street alley, strings of hundreds of fairy lights lead to the balloon-strewn bohemian bricked courtyard, where a bangin’ DJ set is firing up revellers not adverse to the intermittent showers, while those who are swill killer prohibition-cool cocktails in the pimped-up industrial chic of neighbouring watering hole Strange & Co.We get our own party started with a round of Orleans’ cocktails; the classic Red Snapper ups the ante with a Creole spin on the classic Bloody Mary by adding...
Cityscape Eating @
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We peruse the carefully-curated menu under the watchful gaze of a Bengal Tiger prowling the jungle undergrowth. The impressive mural features a stunning jewel-green tiled ceiling, just part of the stunning package at this excellent addition to St Asaph Street’s buzzing restaurant and bar scene that offers some of the city’s finest Indian cuisine.A love song to all things Bombay, local curry legend Amar Singh’s Coriander’s Ethnic Indian Restaurants’ mothership is housed in a beautiful, colonial-style building, resplendent in white. Ornate decorating and fancy murals join a movie-poster clad Bollywood room and sunny, undercover outdoor area perfect for lazy weekend lunches and early evening dining.Inside, a slick bar setup is a great place to grab a pre-dinner tipple if you’re waiting on your table (FYI: if you haven’t booked for dinner, a wait is pretty much a given), while well-placed kitchen windows allow diners to not only check out the...
Cityscape Eating @
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Fresh, feisty and wildly authentic, Hello Vietnam Restaurant is the latest offering along what is fast becoming known as the city’s multi-cultural dining hotspot – Riccarton Road. While its address lists it as Riccarton Road, you’ll find this calling card to Saigon tastiness tucked under Stellar Restaurant & Bar, with its entrance (and car park) around on Euston Street. We arrive on a Saturday night and it’s obvious that its round-the-corner location isn’t fooling Christchurch’s foodie masses as this clean, sleek and perfectly-presented eatery is packed to its lacquered gills. Buzzing with bustling efficiency, and with the excited chatter of a clientele clearly enjoying themselves and the piquant promise of things to come both teasing the air, we’re seated by owner and man-about-Hello-Vietnam-Restaurant Bruce Tran.Sipping our BYO bottle of Brancott Estate Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, we peruse a menu that spoils us for choice and combines Vietnamese classics spanning fresh rice...