Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
13/07/2018 - 15/07/2018
All the songs you have been waiting for in one concert
Broadway Hitmen follows on from the grand success of An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics, the mid-season concert which wowed audiences last year. The Ryman Healthcare Showbiz Christchurch Orchestra, 16 soloists and a large chorus will fill the Isaac Theatre Royal stage to present a concert of back-to-back hits from two of the biggest names in musical theatre, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
American born Porter wrote over 800 songs during a career spanning five decades, conquering both Broadway and Hollywood. His soaring melodies, offset with urbane and witty lyrics, gave rise to his signature musical genre known as ‘the Cole Porter song’. Iconic musicals like Anything Goes, Can Can and Kiss Me Kate remain stage and screen classics, finding new audiences with every decade. Many of his greatest songs have been covered by modern stars like Michael Bublé, Robbie Williams and Lady Gaga.
British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the best known name in modern musical theatre. In 2017 he became the first composer to have four musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway since 1953. Webber has written some of the world’s most loved and successful musicals including Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, CATS and Sunset Boulevard.
“This is more than just a ‘stand up and sing’ concert,” says Musical Director Ravil Atlas. “Each of the 26 songs presented has been cherry picked and represents the best and most popular songs from two of the greatest Broadway melodists.” Atlas, who originally comes from California, has had a distinguished and varied career in opera, musical theatre and concerts for over 25 years. He has starred as the leading tenor in more than 70 professional opera productions in six countries, performed the role of Piangi in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco, starred as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and has taught many other professional singers and actors at the highest level. In 2017 he appeared as a mentor in TVNZ’s The Naked Choir.
Stage Director Nickie Wellbourn is charged with bringing the songs to life on stage. “Each song performed in Broadway Hitmen will have its own on-stage storytelling,” says Wellbourn. “I’ll also be including a few surprises to build on the ‘wow’ moments from the 2017 concert.”
One surprise which can be revealed is the inclusion of former Christchurch actor/singer Nic Kyle, who is now based in Vancouver. Kyle will be singing ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar, which he performed to critical acclaim whilst touring Australasia with world famous musical theatre diva Elaine Page in 2012. Kyle was described in a Stage Whispers review as “a musical theatre artist with an amazing voice who wowed the audience. His songs were received by rapturous applause which rivalled the star performer, and the show would be worth seeing for his performance.” The tour with Paige opened doors for Kyle on the West End, where he performed for four years and was nominated for Best Actor (BroadwayWorld) for his role in Savage (The Arts Theatre). Kyle grew up in Ilam, attended Christ’s College, and graduated from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts (NASDA). In 2009 he performed the lead role with Showbiz Christchurch in the New Zealand premiere of Miss Saigon before landing the touring gig as Paige’s sole supporting act.
Kyle will be joined on stage in Broadway Hitmen by 15 other soloists, a 30 strong orchestra and a chorus of more than 50 to present all the songs from two of the greatest popular melodists in one concert. “I was introduced to the songs of Cole Porter by my mother when I was a child and I have loved them ever since. They were her favourites and now they are mine,” says Wellbourn. “I hope to see an audience full of people sharing the music they love with younger members of their family.”
The repertoire will take the audience from the birth of Broadway with Cole Porter’s witty and suave Broadway standards from the 1930s, through the Lloyd Webber blockbusters. “It starts with 1930s nostalgia and ends with Broadway on steroids,” says Atlas. “It’s all your old friends together in one concert from two writers who gave the world popular melody.” And for those who don’t think they know any Porter or Webber songs, Atlas and Wellbourn reassure “there are plenty of songs you will recognise and don’t realise that you already knew!”
Isaac Theatre Royal
for four performances from
13-15 July 2018
Lighting Designer: Grant Robertson
Sound Designer: Ben Rentoul
Specialist Choreographer: Mandy Roberts
Technical Manager: David Bosworth
Stage Manager: Mandy Perry
Wardrobe Manager: Di Brodie QSM
Hair and Makeup Manager: Sarah Greenwood Buchanan
Production Manager: Johnny Morris
Production Secretary: Jackie Wills
General Manager: Michael Bayly
Front of House Manager: Sandi White
Marketing Manager: Wendy Riley
First Violins: Sarah McCracken, Jonathan Tanner, Amandene Guerin, Clare Shatford
Second Violins: Lucienne Shelley, Cathy Irons, Anne Lardner, Bogdan Kievski
Viola: Anne Robinson
Cello: Iain Brandram-Adams, Naomi Hnat
Bass: Michael Story
Trumpet: Thomas Eve, Slade Hocking
Horn: Julian Weir, Claire Elliot
Trombone: Chris Petch, Pablo Ruiz Henao
Percussion: Craig Given, Mitch Thomas Keyboards: Matt Oswin, Frankie Daly
Woodwind: Georgina Rees-Stevenson, Lana Law, Jennie Gough, Alena Le Ngoc
Guitar: Heather Webb
Andy Fu, Annabel Keys, Annelise Diamond, Annie Manning, Ben Olijkan, Brigid McClelland, Catriona Hay, Chloe Ellis, Chris Finnie, Deirdre Fell,Douglas Shields, Emily-Jane Stockman, Harry Burt, Heather McFarlane, Hiliary Schroeder, Isabella Pownall, Jack Martin, James Mountstevens, Jan Stuart, Jason Eager, Jenny-Marie Evans, Jessica Tozer, Karen Tewnion-Smith, Lucy Vanner, Marcella Herrera, Matthew Deavoll, Michael Deibert, Nellie Evison, Nicholas Ryan, Olivia Brooks, Olivia Singleton, Raoul Neave, Rory Humm, Sam Quirk, Samantha Raines, Shannon Peck, Shannon-Aimee Bradley, Sophie Gilmore, Sophie Ricketts, Tara Martin, Thomas McCabe, Tusi Elisara, Will Harris, Will Lynch, Will Murton
Theatre , Musical ,
What a swell party this is!
Review by Grant Hindin Miller 14th Jul 2018
It’s a full house of mixed ages in the history-steeped, gloriously refurbished Isaac Theatre Royal.
On stage is an orchestra of thirty musicians under the masterly guidance of Musical Director Ravil Atlas. Strings, percussion, keyboards, woodwind and brass are positioned to allow two paths to converge on centre stage. Dressed in black the players provide the spirited yet self-effacing foundation, the musical framework for the soaring vocals and unfolding vignettes.
Showbiz Christchurch can be relied upon to pull off rewarding shows; however, Broadway Hitmen is a world-class extravaganza which presents wave after wave of delight and joy.
With live musicians, a full choir of fifty voices, a dozen tap dancers and more than a dozen featured soloists, this is a celebration of the music of Cole Porter (Act One) and Andrew Lloyd-Webber (Act Two). They say the ideal is to enter a musical being able to hum the tunes; and this is certainly the case.
The introductory overture leads into a rousing ‘Another Opening Another Show’ combining all soloists and chorus. It’s a great move – punchy, collaborative, powerful – and we know we’re in for a thrilling night.
Cole Porter’s witty and sophisticated lyrics run like streamers over the audience – e.g. ‘Well Did You Evah’:
Have you heard that poor dear Blanche
Got run down by an avalanche?
Well, did you evah?
What a swell party this is! ….
Have you heard, it’s in the stars,
Next July we collide with Mars?
Well, did you evah?
What a swell party this is!
Comic singers are not always given their due. Blair McHugh and Matt McMenamin own the stage with ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’, and Anne-Marie Cotton and Warwick Shillito are utterly charming in ‘Let’s Do It’.
With musical panache in well-lit settings, hits from Kiss Me Kate, Out of This World, High Society, Gay Divorcee and Anything Goes roll along seamlessly. Everyone on stage is at the top of their game. There’s a natty medley of ‘I Love Paris’/’Begin the Beguine’/’Night and Day’/’I’ve Got You Under my Skin’. ‘Anything Goes’,led by Kira Josephson and colourfully supported by a dozen delightful tap dancers, is the brilliant culmination to Act One.
I hear audience members exalt, echo and repeat, “I’m enjoying it immensely”, “Wonderful”, “We know all those songs”, “Isn’t it fantastic?”
And then it gets better with the potent Act Two opening of ‘Masquerade’ from Phantom of the Opera followed by a stunning tour de force solo of ‘Think of Me’ by Charlotte Taylor in which we are also treated to the pure velvet voice of Nic Kyle.
Where Cole Porter’s music is light, melodious, at heart mercurial, the music of Lloyd Webber is dramatic, passionate and essentially theatrical. The orchestra plays a rollicking ‘Jellicle Ball’ (Cats) which, at its conclusion, transitions into a hallowed offering of ‘Pie Jesu’from Requiem, featuring Amanda Atlas and boy soprano Oscar Stove. The haunting melody arrests the hushed theatre and receives resounding applause.
With so many stand-out performances it would be ungracious not to name all of the soloists: Amanda Atlas, Anne-Marie Cotton, Blair McHugh, Bryony Jamison, Catherine Hay, Charlotte Taylor, Donna Alley, Jack Marshall, Jacqueline Doherty, Kate Taylor, Kira Josephson, Leigh Wilson, Matt McMenamin, Nic Kyle, Oscar Stove, Sophie Gilmore, Tara Martin, and Warwick Shillito.
Bryony Jamison’s heartfelt vocal of ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ (Evita) is riveting and I feel anxious for the performer who has to follow. Then Catherine Hay enters quietly, left of stage, sits on a lonely park bench and offers the finest rendering of Tell Me On a Sunday’s title songthat I have ever heard. Both songs are show stoppers.
The plateau of excellence and the hits keep coming with ‘As if we Never said Goodbye’from Sunset Boulevard (sung sensationally by Amanda Atlas). From Jesus Christ Superstar:‘I Don’tKnow How to Love Him’ (Catherine Hay); the heart wrenching ‘Gethsemane’ which parades the comprehensive range, pitch, tone, and emotion of Nic Kyle’s superb voice. The show culminates with Kate Taylor, Leigh Wilson, Catherine Hay, and a full chorus offering of ‘Superstar’led by Jack Marshall.
The air is heady. Broadway Hitmen rightly receives a standing ovation and no-one wants to leave. Ravil Atlas as Musical Director and Nickie Wellbourn as Staging Director have orchestrated a comprehensive world-class entertainment. It’s the best show in town and if you haven’t already booked, act quickly and treat yourself. You will love it.
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