Virtuosic technique and passion through a cheerful, unpretentious performance won Antal Szalai and his Gypsy Orchestra the admiration of a capacity audience at the Regent Theatre. The cheerful and cheeky blending of sounds of the great Romantic tradition of orchestral and film repertoire was all very familiar but wonderfully revisited. A standing ovation won an encore of Pokarekareana - a wonderful gesture from such a talented group. Brilliant showmanship, where the instruments did all the talking.
The satire could be a little too biting for some audiences but the packed out crowd at the opening night lapped it up. It is liberally sprinkled with topical humour, cultural stereotyping and political caricatures. The cast all have meticulous comic timing. The laughs started with the hilarious Heather O'Carroll setting up the conference room for the embassy from destitute North Zealand coming to barter for cheaper power. They continued steadily until the mash up national anthem at the end. Cue thunderous applause.
No matter what you may have read or heard about The Kransky Sisters, nothing prepares you for the shock of experiencing them in the flesh. These slightly sinister spinsters are disturbingly different and face-achingly funny, in a warped kind of way. The musically talented Kranskys' droll, self-deprecating humour is skilfully sustained, perfectly timed, and brilliantly underplayed. These aren't tortured souls screaming for release at all. They're just superb performers with a ground-breaking act that they have honed to perfection. As the best arts festivals pride themselves on celebrating different kinds of entertainment, chalk another winner up to Otago.
The diva thrilled her audience in the Town Hall, defying age to diminish her fabulous voice and presence. The programme included Vivaldi, Handel, Liszt, Strauss and Guastavino, but the highlight of the evening was Rachmaninov's Vocalise. Wordless, and the epitome of lyricism, melody ebbed and flowed with instrumental precision, expanding the softest onsets, traversing registers with kaleidoscopic shading to achieve the pinnacle with strength and unwavering resonance. Dame Kiri chatted informally from time to time, happy to be so far South for a concert recital, and having enjoyed her stay and the good weather in Dunedin.
There are feats of circus derring-do, with juggling, aerials, fire, poise, balance, buffed bodies and polished timing and that's just the first 15 minutes. Once that's out of the way we can get on with the story of the endless dance of dinner, where the eternal big questions of life may be discussed as long as one sticks to society's rules. The many moments of superb theatricality easily make up for uneven momentum, and the tremendous talents of The Loons are unquestionable. Did The Butler deliver? Emphatically yes.
This was a passionate dramatic production, beautifully executed by a very professional cast, directed by Jaqueline Coats, conducted by Matthew Leese and choreographed by Daniel Belton. Eleven soloists with national and international performing experience, contributed individuality to each character, also forming a strong vocal chorus when required. Excellent diction was a highlight with part singing maintaining good balance and control. Vocally, visually and instrumentally excellent...
What an enthralling experience firstly to walk down John Ritchie's quirky tongue-in-cheek, lovingly honest, Papanui Road. Secondly we walk through Anthony Ritchie's internal world of duality; equally compelling, rhythmically dynamic and unashamedly honest: brilliant instrumentation and excellent dramatic weighting of percussion, brass, woodwinds and string; the climax of tension snapping like high-tensile wire into silence was absolutely thrilling. The hand of a master composer is proudly acknowledged when a full house gives a thunderous applause.
Compelling rhythm, enthusiastic joyful bopping, enough confidence to throw a stick at, lots of smiles - It was great, it was energetic, exhilarating, explosive, thunderous and infectious and a killer combination of techno-funk, and the crowd, or at least that portion of it on their feet had an orgiastic ball. It was great to hear the mix of drum and bass with a range of other musical languages. It was also great to hear the fine voice of the lead guest singer and to watch the technique of the double-sided dhol drummers.
The dancing is of superb quality and extremely expressive, carried along by dramatic music and song. Partner work is intricate and technically refined, and many of the lifts and dips truly spectacular. The images thus achieved - also thanks to the excellent lighting design - are memorable, and the dances' eroticism is palpable. The audience was enraptured and offered their enthusiastic applause.
Rhythmic complexity, fast and slow hands, beautiful melodies, great blend of idioms from west and east of the border held the capacity house at the Glenroy Auditorium spellbound. This was an upbeat performance right from the beginning and had the audience shouting and vigorously applauding right from the beginning with every reason. Their virtuosic skills won them a unanimous standing ovation and in return the audience won two encores. What a treat!
The programme began with Mike Nock "doing his own thing", extemporising to the absolute limits. Built-in foot percussion obbligato was often a feature, along with thick tortuous textures, in a labyrinth of jazz-based motifs and clusters. New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun, particularly renowned for performing Beethoven and other classical repertoire, transferred his phenomenal technical skills to interpret a dozen or so of Nock's jazz compositions. Houstoun interpreted all with great passion and affection. He clearly indicated the privilege he felt in performing for this composer - an international jazz-man who has gone to great effort to write down some very complex creations for others to master and enjoy.
Cabaret diva Helen Medlyn, with Penny Dodd at piano, filled the auditorium with convivial vocal portraiture, delighting a responsive audience. The show of song and anecdote was tailored to highlight Medlyn's unique style of comic flair, as pertinent stylistic delivery revealed the inner secrets and desires of - a glamour girl, a call girl, a proprietress and finally a murderess. Such passion in engaging her audiences defines international performer Medlyn as the complete mistress of vaudeville, and Hotel is definitely among the best of this genre to come South.
With his curls, his black-rimmed glasses and vaguely 19th-century attire, Te Radar is good to look at. His delivery is fast paced, his energy and enthusiasm unflagging and his rapport with the audience exceptional. Sometimes... he seems almost knocked off his feet in sheer astonishment at the tales he tells. To go to his show is to develop a hilarious new perspective on our country's strangely ridiculous past. Burns Hall was full of people laughing themselves silly while doing just that.
Kate Prior and Simon Vincent perform as John and Stella, a husband and wife research team stationed in an isolated hut in Antarctica. The duo's raw performance of a couple dealing with the searing loss of a child had a strong affect on the audience. This is intensified by Gareth Farr's haunting soundscape... Welcome comic relief is provided by Byron Coll, who performs in some hard-working body paint as the penguin Bob. He is absolutely captivating.
Welcome to the world of Good Company Arts, a genre- bending meeting place for science, philosophy, history, art, sculpture, theatre, music, film, and dance. The seven shorts of Line Dances are no exception, raising the bizarre bar a peg or two. Line Dances is verging on a new art form, and takes a bit of getting used to - but then so did Avatar in 3D.
Atamira Dance Company has a reputation for a strong ensemble - they did it again. They are all sensuous and fluid performers and everyone catches your eye. The quality of touch shared between the dancers reflects the poignancy of the story. Poitiki-Bryant's performance was compelling and mystical. Richard Nunns' taonga puoro was delivered with a magical precision. This was a performance of deep humanity; a story close to all our hearts.
It's an exhilarating intimate experience of dance that comes with closeness you can't avoid on a crowded bus, and the next best thing to being on stage yourself. Dances are short, telling stories and expressing characters taken by the performers, who display marvellous physicality, athleticism and control. The choreography is superbly suited to the chosen sites and executed brilliantly, making the show a perfect mix of excellent modern dance and pure fun. Back of the Bus is a transport of delight, even for non-dancers and yes even for people who hate buses.
Hoyts Lane became a magnet of colour as three highly regarded street artists, Sean Duffel. Aaron Manuel and Harry Skipper, turned one entire wall of the lane into a dazzling new picturescape. Hundreds of images are intertwined to spell out Dunedin. The giant letters are full of glimpses from the city's past present and future. The work includes local views and elements of Dunedin's Maori, Scottish and Chinese heritage. Sean Duffel says, "There's something in there for everyone. it's got that earth, wind, sea and sky thing happening."