Sir Ian McKellen & a thrilled theatre fan
There are few characters of the last century more iconic than Gandalf, especially in these parts. When I heard that Sir Ian McKellen had booked in for a series of shows across New Zealand to fundraise for Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal I knew I desperately wanted to be there, and was holding my breath that I’d get to see him do the epic line “YOU SHALL NOT PASS.”
My hopes were more than rewarded which this extraordinary actor came on stage only metres away (we’d managed to book front row seats and were half expecting some good ol’ thespian spittle to land on us) and recited the whole passage when Gandalf was trying to stop the Belrog – what a way to start a show! He wielded his famous sword Glamdring (yes, I had to look that up) and then allowed a few lucky audience members to have a turn – including me. Excitement!
So that was the first few minutes of the show – how do you follow that? Easily, if you’re the engaging and completely loveable 73 year old (it was still his birthday in England, so Happy Birthday was busted out in true Kiwi style).
He told us how when he came to New Zealand he just wanted to meet Sir Edmund Hilary – Peter Jackson said “he’s in the phone book” and Sir Ian knew he’d like New Zealand.
He told us about being knighted, anecdotes about his theatrical and film life, and moving recollection about meeting Mandela – a man who stood against any kind of discrimination.
He performed Wordsworth, Hopkins and in the second half snippets from Shakespeare’s plays, including playing Romeo AND Juliet in the balcony scene. I knew it would be impressive, but it was more than that – it was an extraordinary ‘show’ – a chance to see one of the true greats of theatre and film show us what it means to perform. There were bold gestures and subtle twinkles of the eye. He’s very funny, intelligent and dignified. A performer, an activist and a man who is generous to this small country at the end of the world.
I’m so glad I was there and delighted I was able to meet him. If he hadn’t already won me over – when I said I love Cold Comfort Farm he said “Oh I have a lot of stories about that” and for a few moments became Amos Starkadder before my eyes.
Fangirl? Absolutely – this was a night to remember.
I went to Riverdance on Tuesday night – the start of the Irish phenomenon’s final tour in New Zealand. I saw the show about 15 years ago when they first came to New Zealand – I’d watched the VHS video and had the CD and was so excited! I thought that time might have dulled the magic for me, but I really enjoyed the show. The show features the very best Irish dancers – some of whom also sing and live musicians. I’d forgotten so much about the show, but my favourite bits are still the big numbers with the whole cast in line and legs flying everywhere, and the dance-off between some of the Irish lads and American tappers.
Riverdance is on until Sunday at the Aotea Centre, before heading to Wellington and then Christchurch. Check out the dates on the Riverdance website, or get the iPhone app!
Aotea Square Ice Rink
There’s been a huge response to the news that there’s going to be an ice rink in Aotea Square this winter. The rink will be part of a “Winter Showtime” programme of family friendly events that includes shows like The Amazing Bubble Man, Nutcracker on Ice and The Magic Chicken.
The rink opens on 23 June and tickets will be $20 for adults and $15 for children (skates included) – a full programme will be announced soon.
The Great Gatsby
Baz Lurhmann is the man behind such amazing movies as Strictly Ballroom, Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge as well as epic fail Australia (the movie, not the country). He’s back with an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Great American Novel’ The Great Gatsby which due out at the end of the year. The cast includes Carey Mulligan (who is undoubtedly one of the top actresses around), Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey McGuire and Isla Fisher – ex-Home & Away star and wife of Sacha Baron Cohen.
The movie is a very long way away, but the trailer was released this week and is attracting a lot of debate – will it be another let down, or is Baz back to his best?
Remix the Orchestra
The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra has been running a programme called Remix in Mangere for five years, creating opportunities for urban and classical musicians to work together. This year there’s a special New Zealand Music Month concert at Auckland Town Hall featuring Hip Hop artists and the full orchestra on 31 May.
DJCXL (who’ll be DJing throughout), Frisko (aka Alphrisk), Tyree and Ermehn will all be performing along with longstanding members of the Remix crew JEM and Anonymouz.
Graffiti crew FDKNS will also be involved drawing in real time on tablet computers, and the results will be projected on screens as they work. Read more and book tickets – they start at $20!
Coldplay concert announced for Mt Smart
I used to be a huge Coldplay fan and even though my enthusiasm for them has waned (I find them a bit samey), there’s no doubt that they know how to put on a gigantic and flashy show. A concert in November has just been announced – which means Auckland will see Radiohead, The Black Keys and Coldplay all in one week. Pre-sale tickets go on sale at midday and the general on-sale is 25 May. If you always miss out on the big concerts, my advice is to subscribe to the email databases for the main ticketing agents and venues!
Shihad: Beautiful Machine
Shihad is arguably New Zealand’s greatest rock band of all time and the rise, fall and ongoing journey ‘ew I said journey’ of the band is told in a documentary that is out today. I went to a media screening a few weeks ago and thought it was a very good film – not perfect, but with lots of depth and personality. The film is surprisingly honest about the downsides of rock n roll and what actually happened when the band went to make it big in LA. The family stories are what makes the film rich. I was worried that I wouldn’t like the band members after seeing the movie, but it just made me want to go to one of their live gigs! My full review is here.
On the internet
Totally amazing group photos from all over the place.
Auckland Writers and Readers Festival
Auckland Writers and Readers Festival has started with the schools programme and gets underway for the grownups on Thursday night. There is a seriously impressive lineup this year with local stars like Rhys Darby, Emily Perkins, Witi Ihimaera and Maurice Gee making an appearance alongside a host of international guests. I’ve been poring through the programme to work out my unmissable sessions and I think one of the most interesting and challenging ones is likely to be one of the last on the programme – Country of Kings – The Beautiful Struggle with spoken word artist Lemon Andersen. The book is a memoir of his life so far – growing up with heroin addict parents who died of AIDS, he turned his life around after discovering his talent as a poet. He’s won a Tony Award and has been the subject of a film (Lemon) which has two screenings this weekend at the Documentary Edge festival. This won’t be everyone’s idea of a good time, but I’m very interested in hearing from Lemon – and if it’s not your cup of tea – there are many other sessions that should interest you and/or make you a much more interesting dinner party conversationalist. See my top ten picks for the festival.
Sir Ian McKellen’s fundraiser tour
I posted all the dates for Sir Ian’s fundraiser for Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal a while back. Now the tour has started and the reviews are excellent. I’m bringing this up again because apparently Hamilton, Tauranga and the Hawkes Bay haven’t sold out like the rest of the country – so hurry up guys! Aucklanders who missed out might even want to consider the short drive to H-Town on Saturday night!
I’m a few weeks off the pace with this one because I haven’t had a chance to see The Avengers yet, but I have not heard a single bad review. It is based on comic book characters but it’s not a kid’s movie. But it’s really good for adults who love comics and features all the Marvel superheroes and a very good cast.
Hey guys, you should all come and hang out with me and my friends at this! I have done some research and can confirm that the prizes are GOOD and so is the entertainment (DJ Phillipa and Sophia Nash!). As for the company… you should come along and make it even cooler.
Only $15 and whatever you want to spend on the auction. Generosity is such an attractive trait, don’t you think?