The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

20/09/2017 - 01/10/2017

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

10/12/2017 - 23/12/2017

Production Details

Helen Moulder and Rose Beauchamp are delighted to premiere their new show at The Dark Room in Palmerston North.

Cynthia and Gertie Go Baroque is the long awaited sequel to their hit show The Legend Returns, which toured extensively around NZ including to Centrepoint. The Legend Returns is a popular request on Radio NZ and is now permanently available in their collection. John Smythe described the show in the National Business Review as “Wit, musicality and unadulterated madness.”  Helen and Rose are also founding members of Hens’ Teeth.

Cynthia and Gertie Go Baroque features Gertie (Rose) on harpsichord in Baroque and un Baroque style and Cynthia (Helen) playing a variety of operatic characters. The show melds classical romance with futurist New Zealand including doomed lovers, haywire puppetry and a super yacht! Cynthia gallantly holds the evening together even when Gertie’s infatuation with all things Japanese threatens to disrupt the performance.

“We are looking forward to bringing this show to Palmerston North,” Helen says, “particularly with the harpsichord accompaniment. It’s a unique sound. And we’ve had a great time creating the show with the help of director Jeff Kingsford-Brown.”

20 September – 1st October, 2017
TUES – SAT  7.30pm, SUN 4pm
Ticket Prices: Adults $30, Concessions $25
Bookings: 06 354 5740 or 

Later in the year Cynthia and Gertie Go Baroque will have a season in Circa Two, Wgtn, Dec 10 – 23.

Theatre , Musical ,

Go for baroque, Kiwi style

Review by Ewen Coleman 20th Dec 2017

It’s been nearly 20 years since Cynthia Fortitude and her mute sidekick Gertrude Rallentando graced the Circa stage in their original show The Legend Returns, so many will have not had the delight of experiencing these two characters perform their unique brand of classic opera.

In this current show, Cynthia & Gertie Go Baroque, Cynthia (Helen Moulder), with Gertie (Rose Beauchamp) on the harpsichord, perform Henry Purcell’s only and best-known Baroque opera Dido and Aeneas in a way that is both unique and original and very funny. [More]  


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Funny, frolicking and fabulous

Review by Pepe Becker 14th Dec 2017

“World famous diva” Cynthia Fortitude (Helen Moulder) and her “indefatigable accompanist” Gertrude Rallentando (Rose Beauchamp) return to the Circa stage – two decades after their first duo show, The Legend Returns – to bring us an evening of super-fun, super-clever musical comedy.

As superannuitants (in character and now in reality), these two seasoned actor-musicians – who have enjoyed a fifty-year musical friendship thus far – bring golden moments aplenty to the stage, and right from the start we are drawn in to their warm and witty performance with an immediate sense of involvement, as if we have been invited to a house concert given by a couple of dear old friends. 

Indeed there is quite a bit of audience participation requested in this show, and although those who are extremely shy may be advised to avoid the front row, the invitations to applaud, cheer, sing (and more!) are willingly accepted and thoroughly enjoyed by all. Moulder and Beauchamp (despite the latter having a non-speaking role) are both brilliant communicators, and one very quickly tunes in to every emotion and character-identification, as they romp through a hilarious retelling of the Baroque Opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell (1659-95). 

The music is kept close enough to the original that those of us who know it well and/or have performed it recognise Purcell’s wonderfully rich harmonies, beautiful melodies and dance rhythms, even though the choruses are simplified to single-line tunes and arias and recitatives are shortened. Nahum Tate’s libretto however, is cleverly reworked (by one of Cynthia and Gertie’s politically-liberal and environmentally-aware friends) to include aspects of New Zealand farming life, a superyacht, an Australian hunk, cronies from Hokitika, and other unexpected twists and turns …

These elements, along with the inclusion of puppets (crafted by Anna Bailey and Rose Beauchamp herself – making apparent her training and skill in the art of puppetry as well as keyboard playing), a ukulele, and curious musical diversions by Gertie into the world of jazz on the harpsichord, transform this tale of doomed lovers from a tragedy to a rollicking, fast-paced (though no less heartfelt) comedy.

There are other diversions and digressions too, in Gertie’s temporary obsession with Japanese culture and music, and her helpful provision of pills for various conditions that may arise. Moulder and Beauchamp are wonderfully energetic, their characters portraying in equal portions the befuddlements and bewilderments that sometimes come with age and the savvy wisdom and worldliness that also comes with maturity. All the while they are capriciously comical, with excellent timing, excellent movement (Baroque Dance expert Jennifer Shennan is one of the people acknowledged in the programme) and excellent musicianship.

I only have one suggestion for improvement, and that is of a historical performance practice nature: the Baroque trill technically should start on the note above the written note… However, this hardly matters in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps the post-Mozartian trill demonstration (starting on the actual note and then stepping up and back down) is a deliberate move on Ms Fortitude’s part. Either way, every vocal nuance is executed with aplomb by Moulder, and her changes in timbre between the four main characters in the opera (the woman, the handmaiden/PA, the man, the witch) are wonderfully done.

It is a joy to watch, and participate in, this ornate baroque journey filled with funny puns (of the Latin and/or musical variety) and the odd Lady Mondegreen (“… we had an epitome [epiphany]…”), and one comes away with a huge smile on one’s face and feeling uplifted. Congratulations to director Jeff Kingsford-Brown, and the whole creative team. Helen Moulder and Rose Beauchamp are absolute gems! I highly recommend you go see this show – ’tis funny, frolicking and fabulous!  _______________________________

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Plenty of laughs

Review by John C Ross 23rd Sep 2017

You enter the theatre-space and strikingly, left of centre, is a multi-coloured harpsichord. In comes, mutely, Gertie (aka Gertrude Rallentando, aka her alter-ego Rose Beauchamp), and organizes a few things, including donning an over-large, bobbly white wig.

Then, aha! In comes, unsilently, the irrepressible Cynthia Fortitude (aka her alter-ego Helen Moulder), returning once again. Pause for audience applause, including, as her sign instructs, cries of “BRAVA!” Not nearly enough. Let’s do this again. Still not. The third time, it’s worthy of her. From that point, the audience, or some recruited member of it, becomes an additional performer, composite or single, which is fun, the sheer bravado of it all.  

A certain amount of the show is simply Cynthia and Gertie’s interactions with each other and with the audience. Gertie remains mute, yet expressive enough with facial expressions, body language, and so forth, as often as not something like: “OMG, look what I have to put up with!” 

Cynthia and Gertie, over several decades, have gone to quite a few places, so why not to Baroque? Cynthia’s costume is more flamboyantly baroque-period than Gertie’s, and her wig is even more over-the-top. It turns out that their aim is to organise a presentation of a version of that masterpiece of English Baroque, Henry Purcell’s chamber opera Dido & Aeneas, first perfumed back in 1689. For this, they recruit the theatre audience as operatic chorus.

Much more one shouldn’t tell, to avoid spoiling the surprise factor. Let’s say this version of Purcell’s opera is modernized, highly unorthodox, and short. It involves puppets, hence the work of puppet-makers. And it’s very funny.

In what is the premiere performance, there are a few rhythmic elements that will doubtless be tightened, but otherwise this is very entertaining, well-done, adequately directed. Helen Moulder sings well, and Rose Beauchamp is manifestly a very capable musician. And special praise should go to Janet Dunn for the costumes. 

The first night’s audience comes on board fully and has plenty of laughs. Go Cynthia and Gertie!! 


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