1999: The Ultimate Prince Experience

Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton

07/05/2024 - 07/05/2024

Production Details

Director/Producer - Johnny Van Grinsven

Finally hitting the shores of New Zealand is the much-anticipated new tribute from Showtime Australia 1999 The Ultimate Prince Experience, visiting ten venues nationally in May 2024.

The show, that was due to debut in 2020, underwent numerous reschedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic but finally hit stages for the first time in 2023 with a national UK tour that proved popular with British Prince fans.

Now heading to New Zealand in 2024 for the very first time, fans can expect an immersive stage show experience that pays homage to the genius, innovation and grandeur of Prince and his extensive musical legacy.

Paying tribute to the phenomenal Prince himself is the multi-talented South African performer Dale Ray, who will be backed by an eight-piece powerhouse band.

Audiences can expect to bop along to classics such Purple Rain, 1999, When Doves Cry, Kiss, Little Red Corvette, Raspberry Beret, Diamonds and Pearls, Cream, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World and more.

Tickets are available now! Visit https://mailchi.mp/showtime/prince-new-zealand for more show information.

8pm | 2 May Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland
8pm | 3 May Baycourt Community Centre, Tauranga
8pm | 4 May Sir Howard Morrison Centre, Rotorua
8pm | 6 May Forum North, Whangarei
8pm | 7 May Clarence St Theatre, Hamilton
8pm | 8 May Regent on Broadway, Palmserton North
8pm | 9 May TSB Showplace, New Plymouth
8pm | 10 May Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre, Hastings
7pm | 12 May Wellington Opera House, Wellington
8pm | 14 May Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

DIGITAL PROGRAMME | Showtime Australia

Dale Ray
eight-piece band

Music , Theatre ,

2.5 hrs Inc Interval

Good fun and if you enjoy Prince’s music, you’ll just love it

Review by Cate Prestidge 08th May 2024

Heading out to a high energy show is not the usual plan for most people on ‘a school night’ but the crowd at Hamilton’s Clarence Street theatre is well up for a Prince tribute show.

It’s full of bangers and the lead, multi-instrumentalist Dale Ray, not only looks the part, he is well in command of the material, music, and showmanship of Prince. Ray is supported by an excellent, tightly honed band who are exciting to watch.

By the end of the first half, many in the audience are up and dancing, but it’s fair to say it takes us a little while to heat up – literally. While the welcome is always warm at Clarence Street, the temperature in the theatre has many keeping their jackets on which may have contributed to the atmosphere feeling a bit flat for the first few songs.

The show opens with Ray – beautifully costumed in a slinky orange suit – in a familiar Prince pose, before leading into a lovely version of ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’. The audience is appreciative but it’s not until a few songs in that we see the first people dancing in the aisles.

A moving rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ receives huge applause, which Ray acknowledge: “Hamilton ‘you’ve warmed up to me, and I’ve warmed up to you.” By the time ‘Little Red Corvette’ plays to round out the first set, people are clapping along with many up bopping to the music. 

The second half pumps out magically with more costume changes and high energy numbers like ‘Betcha by Golly, Wow’, ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘Sign O The Times’, ‘Diamonds and Pearls’, ‘Kiss’ and ‘1999’, rounding off with a fabulous version of ‘Purple Rain’.

Ray’s vocals have a good representation of the artists voice, without being an exact copy. It is especially successful for me when he is using his natural warmth and expressing the huskier tones of Prince. A very accomplished dancer, he impresses with his showmanship, and he looks the business in a series of fun and evocative costumes including a paisley suit, full blown frock coat and ruffles and a torso-baring tight black cropped jacket. He also manages the crowd well so when someone from the audience yells. “Put a shirt on!” he replies, “If you want me to put a shirt on, you’ve come to the wrong show baby!” – while the audience laugh and cheer.

The stage is simply laid out and good use is made of video screens for projections to accompany the songs as well as some excellent lighting. This really ramps up in the high energy second half.

The band is great to watch and well placed for sightlines with drummer Travis Johnston on elevated rostrum the left and Mfundo (Scales) Mbuli on keys on the right. Bass player Thembelihle Ndimande, in front of Johnston, makes up the dynamic rhythm section while the lead guitarist Pieter-David Du Plessis has space on the other side of the stage to come into the spotlight for some excellent guitar solos. 

In the middle of the stage is a throne (of course!) flanked by two energetic back-up vocalists, Zamagambu (Xae) Memela and Ayanda Mpama, who create some beautiful moments and who we would love to hear a little more loudly. Stage wise, I keep thinking I want a bit more glam, glitter and maybe a smoke machine action to add more theatrics to the overall experience – but really, it’s about the music.

The show is produced and directed by Johnny Van Grinsven and features a South African lineup, something that is referenced when Ray acknowledges the South Africans in the audience in Afrikaans.  

The production is mid-way through a national tour taking in venues from Whangarei to Christchurch, it’s good fun and if you enjoy Prince’s music, you’ll just love it.

Show programme details here DIGITAL PROGRAMME | Showtime Australia 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council