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Free family entertainment returns to the Riccarton House grounds this year with a new Anthony Harper Summer Theatre production; 10 talented actors are set to stage a cheeky and nostalgic retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The season kicks off on Wednesday the 3rd of February and runs until Sunday 21 February, with performances on Wednesday to Friday at 7pm, and two shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm. Director Dan Pengelly says The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is set to equal the last year’s popular production of Peter Pan, and promises to be another enthralling show. “Put together a picnic and bring down a rug to enjoy this family comedy. We are promising lots of fun with plenty of audience participation,” Pengelly says. With a live and playful style, the show will use the script as really just a guide, with dialogue evolving from show to...
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The Court Theatre’s new play Niu Sila offers a couple of dynamic theatrical team-ups; firstly between New Zealand playwrights Dave Armstrong and Oscar Kightley, and then between actors Greg Cooper and Semu Filipo, who take the task of bringing their creation to life entirely upon their shoulders. The play focuses on the friendship of two ordinary New Zealand kids growing up in the 80s – Samoan Ioane and Pakhea/Palagi Peter, and the ways in which 1) the differences in their family cultures affect their ongoing relationship; and 2) the differences in their family cultures don’t actually matter a damn. With the story tracing Peter and Ioane’s lives from a shared first day at school to middle age, the two actors must not only convincingly play their characters at different ages, but also take on all the other roles of the people in Peter and Ioane’s lives – parents, schoolmates, relations,...
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There's a less traditionally Christmassy setting than usual for the Court Jesters' annual holiday show; in 2014, the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of WWI, the quick-witted performers of The Court Theatre's professional improv troupe step into the roles of the men of the Ancillary Reserves Service Entertainment Brigage, tasked with keeping chins up at a Christmas time taking place at the front somewhere vaguely between 1914 – 1918. They're on a sticky wicket, no doubt, but it's still bally Christmas time, eh what?, and morale must be maintained. Troops in the audience can expect the Jesters' usual brand of improvised comedy, all based on audience suggestions and created on the spot on the night, as well as plenty of stiff upper lip, British pluck, Kiwi cheekiness and a touch of poignancy as well.The Court Jesters – Over The Top runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm from the...
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One Man, Two Guvnors, as directed by Ross Gumbley, is a hilarious comedy that will keep you laughing throughout and all the way home. An adaption of 18th century Italian play The Servant of Two Masters, the British comedy is set in the charming and scandalous UK sea-side town of Brighton in the early 1960s. Full of flamboyant attire and colourful characters, the slap-stick comedy and pantomime routines were seamlessly delivered by the professional and talented cast. Tom Trevella was a stand-out in the lead role of Francis Henshall, a simple Brighton local who finds himself in the predicament of serving two masters. His superb acting, combined with his comic-wit, bought this character to life. The plot, which stems from the trickiness of Henshall’s situation, is light-hearted in its delivery of themes of love, jealously and panic, using contemporary jokes and music. From cockney gangsters to bumbling aristocracy, the play paints...
Cityscape News & Reviews
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Cityscape goes bush at the opening night of The Court Theatre's premiere local comedy, Stag Weekend. The Court's new production, Stag Weekend, comes to us from two local writers with plenty of experience in making Cantrabrians laugh: long-time Court Jesters Dan Bain and Brendon Bennetts. The two vastly experienced improvisors have funnelled their talent for comedy into this new scripted work, with excellent results.  Simon (Cameron Douglas) is about to get married. With ideas about making his stag party a codified ritual of traditonal manliness, he ropes some close friends into an entire weekend spent deer hunting from a remote hut on the West Coast. Along for the ride are his best man Andrew (Andrew Ford) , the urbanite who'd prefer a wine tasting to being this up close and personal with "nature", thanks – and is worried that his own husband won't have remembered to feed the cat – the...
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There’s a touch of Groundhog Day to be found in the messy affairs of the heart in Ache, The Forge at The Court’s brilliant and ballsy new will they/won’t they rom-com with an edge. We’ve all been there – instantly smitten, thinking we’ve met the one – only to have bad timing and circumstance throw a spanner in the works like a tortured Alanis Morissette track. Boy, Jono (TV’s Step Dave) Kenyon, meets girl (Amy Straker) while nicking off for a cheeky puff at a roof top balcony during one of those endless strings of weddings you end up attending when you reach a certain age – the sparks fly, but he’s got a girlfriend, and she’s nursing itchy feet having recently returned from London. But what would happen if you met up with that person a second, third or fourth time? Pip Hall’s razor-sharp writing beautifully captures the push-pull of...
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Fate, superstition and Faustian pacts come home to roost in The Court Theatre’s gripping and heartfelt production of Willy Russell’s acclaimed musical Blood Brothers. Perpetually house-dressed and repressed, the once Marilyn Monroe-esque looker with a penchant for dancing (and super-fertility) Mrs Johnstone (a brilliant Ali Harper) has her young life turned upside down when her husband leaves her with a set of twins in her belly and five more children at home. As luck(?) would have it, Johnstone’s barren and desperate employer Mrs Lyons (an edgy Juliet Reynolds-Midgley) convinces the poorer woman to give up a child in order to give it a better life, and Fortuna’s wheel is spun. The cast is excellent across the impressive boards (the set is exceptional), with Harper and Matt Pike’s Narrator – the ever-present, black-clad harbinger stalking the cast from the shadows – scorching the stage with blistering performances. Props too go to...
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The Court Theatre is set to put their own spin on one of musical theatre’s biggest success stories with their upcoming production of the international success story Blood Brothers, a compelling and heart wrenching musical opening at The Shed this weekend. Originally written as a school play by Willy Russell in 1982, Blood Brother’s East End debut in 1983 was the start of over 10,000 professional performances of the show in London, and the show has also toured all over the UK and run on Broadway as well as in Australia (a 1988 production starred everyone’s favourite phone-hurler, Russell Crowe) and in South Africa. A loose adaptation of a story by Alexandre Dumas, it tells the story of two twin sons, born to a woman (Mrs Johnstone) deserted by her husband and with a houseful of existing kids to feed. The affluent but childless Mrs Lyons, whose house she cleans,...
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The Court Theatre's effective heating system comes to the party in their new production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream – managing to warm those of us in the theatre audience to the point that we forget the Christchurch temperature outside and buy into the conceit of the summery evening in front of us on stage. (Just as well too, because as it turns out, the play's fairies and lovers are about to spend the running time scampering about the stage in bare feet.) A vast, open stage is intriguingly draped with cloths, ropes and a wooden slat structure, soon to be dismantled and ingeniously symbolically repurposed  as the trees in the woods outside of Athens. An unusual production for The Court sees many of the theatre's regular faces joined by a number of young Chinese actors from the Peking University's Institute of World Theatre and Film. Assuming the key roles of...
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Terror, mystery and comedic mayhem are uncorked when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest creation Sherlock Holmes and his trusty offsider Watson attempt to unravel the ancient curse of the Baskerville family in the Court Theatre’s new production (opening on the 12th of April), The Hound of the Baskervilles.The uproarious spoof, adapted from probably the most popular of all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes adventures by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, is brought to life by three actors who are kept very busy playing a wide range of characters, dealing with quick-change shenanigans and providing both suspense and hilarious slapstick in this very funny take on the great detective’s most famous case.Will Sherlock get his man? Will Henry Baskerville get the girl? Or will the Hound get its next victim? See if you can’t solve the case before the greatest detective of all time. The Hound of the Baskervilles, 12 April –17...