Cynthia's Christmas at Circa

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

20/11/2008 - 21/12/2008

Production Details


Thursdays – Sundays

More information below, like what it’s all about, who on earth they are, why you should go, times and dates, how to book etc.

Circa Theatre is pleased to announce that Miss Cynthia Fortitude and Miss Gertrude Rallentando will be gracing our stage in Circa Two this Christmas with not ONE, but TWO presentations in repertory (which means "on different nights") – The Legend Returns (TENTH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!) and A Vote for Cynthia, under the banner of CYNTHIA’S CHRISTMAS AT CIRCA. This is the fifth time that Miss Fortitude, described by the Mongolian Morning Tribune as "the greatest living soprano of all time" has returned to us. In The Legend Returns she will be accompanied on the piano by her indefatigable and long-time companion Miss Gertrude Rallentando, but Miss Rallentando will not appear in A Vote for Cynthia – Miss Fortitude’s enthusiastic bid to be Prime Minister one day.

CYNTHIA’S CHRISTMAS AT CIRCA is a unique opportunity for theatre goers to experience Miss Fortitude as an opera singer AND aspiring prime minister and although the longsuffering Miss Rallentando only appears in one show, she has a great influence on the happenings of the other. Every week from Thursday to Sunday, The Legend Returns and A Vote for Cynthia will have two nights each, but alternating each week, so fans will need to check the dates and times carefully. In fact here they are:

Thur  20   7pm ………. A Vote for Cynthia
Fri     21   7pm ……….. A Vote for Cynthia
Sat    22   7pm ……….. The Legend Returns
Sun   23   4.30pm ….. The Legend Returns
Thur  27   7pm ………. The Legend Returns
Fri     28   7pm ………. The Legend Returns
Sat    29   7pm ………. A Vote for Cynthia
Sun   30   4.30pm …. A Vote for Cynthia

Thur   4   6pm [note different time] … A Vote for Cynthia
Fri      5   7pm ……….. A Vote for Cynthia
Sat     6   7pm ……….. The Legend Returns
Sun    7   4.30pm …… The Legend Returns
Thur  11  7pm ……….. The Legend Returns
Fri     12   7pm  ………. The Legend Returns
Sat    13  7pm ………… A Vote for Cynthia
Sun   14   4.30pm ….. A Vote for Cynthia
Thur  18   7pm ……… A Vote for Cynthia
Fri     19   7pm …….. A Vote for Cynthia
Sat    20   7pm …….. The Legend Returns
Sun   21   4.30pm … The Legend Returns

Book at Circa on 801 7992 or
Adults $28 Concession and Groups of Six $22.
A cup of tea is provided afterwards with Cynthia, and on Legend nights, Gertie. Autographs and photos free.

Even more interesting information about the two shows follows.

The Legend Returns
Rose Beauchamp and Helen Moulder

A heartwarming and wickedly funny look at a fading opera diva and her longsuffering accompanist

This double-act, written by Helen Moulder in collaboration with Rose Beauchamp and Michael Wilson, who also directed the piece, defies description. The celebrated opera singer and musical snob, Cynthia Fortitude, with her expressively silent and long suffering companion/accompanist, Gertrude Rallentando, devote their lives, so Cynthia says, to "taking our concerts of serious music to all corners of the globe …. mainly third world countries." After tumbling their way through snippets of arias, anthems to virgins and other vocal meanderings, they premiere their triumphant first and unfinished opera – "Stan" – with all its gods, goddesses, atomic particles, cloned sheep and Pinus Radiata forests. This is Monty Python, Edna Everidge, Hinge & Bracket and Victor Borge – all rolled into one.  

The Legend Returns, premiered at Circa at the 1998 Fringe Festival. The show arose from the characters Helen and Rose developed over many years in Hens’ Teeth. Since the premiere, The Legend Returns has toured New Zealand with Arts on Tour, played at various festivals, been broadcast many times on Radio NZ, (in fact is one of their most popular requests) has had seasons at Josie’s Cabaret (San Francisco) 1999, Centrepoint Theatre 2001, the Court Theatre 2002, a return sell-out season at Circa 2003, and in 2004, played in Taupo, Hastings and Hamilton. It has just returned from a tour of Nelson and Marlborough.

LENGTH One hour 20 mins. No interval.

Cynthia Fortitude for Prime Minister! 

After an illuminating experience on Paekakariki Beach, Miss Fortitude (played by Helen Moulder) has decided to form a political party and stand for parliament one day. Come and hear for yourself Cynthia’s Five Point Plan for the Glorious Transformation of New Zealand Culture and Society. With Operatic Highlights by Verdi, Handel, Puccini, Haydn, Donizetti, Sullivan and Miss Fortitude herself. 

Written by Helen Moulder and Alison Holcroft and directed by Jeff Kingsford-Brown, A Vote for Cynthia opened in July on Sunday nights in Circa One and since then has been touring the country. In 2009 the show will be available for homes, halls, libraries, shearing sheds, galleries, fundraisers etc. Call Helen in 0274 987 580 or email:

LENGTH: One hour 20 mins – no interval

Supported by Creative New Zealand, Willow Productions was formed in 2002 by Helen Moulder, Sue Rider and Sir Jon Trimmer for the creation of Meeting Karpovksy, which opened at the Court Theatre in November 2002. This was followed by a season at Circa in 2003 and a tour of New Zealand in 2004. In 2006 they wrote and produced Playing Miss Havisham, a solo piece for Helen Moulder, which has toured NZ extensively and has recently returned from a tour of Queensland. In 2007 Willow Productions created Cynthia Fortitude’s Farewell – her first, with the Wellington Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Michael Vinten with Helen Moulder and Jeff Kingsford-Brown. They also tour The Legend Returns.

1hr 20 mins, no interval

Cynthia’s back, polished and so up-to-date

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 24th Nov 2008

Miss Cynthia Fortitude, the founding member of The Venezuelan United Living Virgins Association (NZ branch), is back with a vengeance starring in not just one show but two: The Legend Returns and A Vote for Cynthia, which are performed on different nights in the intimacy of Circa 2.

Both shows are different from the last time I saw them and they have been honed, polished, timed to perfection, and brought up to date so that Miss Fortitude’s PowerPoint presentation in her push for political power is now focused on the election three years hence though she is unable to ignore her opera The Force of Destiny as well as teaching Dan Carter, with an appropriate diagram, how to drop kick.

Gertie doesn’t appear in A Vote for Cynthia but her presence is felt nonetheless. The reason Cynthia didn’t get any votes a few weeks ago is because Gertie forgot to send in the right papers but she rises above that and teaches us the party song and tells us all about potassium permanganate and her dislike of image consultants, while she plays a bright yellow plastic ukulele.

The opera in The Legend Returns is a new one: all about Attis, the Phrygian vegetation god and consort of Cybele, who was forced to castrate himself as a punishment, with Attis being played by a handsome All Black and Cynthia as Cybele. As castrati are in short supply the audience has not only to sing falsetto but also baa like sheep, emit wolf calls, sing a chorus about Pinus Radiata, and provide the sound effects for the opera’s climactic scene.

Gertie is still drinking altruistically, still playing Rachmaninov, still operating the applause button and she still hasn’t recovered from their touring tenor Jarvis Brown. Withering looks, slow burns and temper tantrums indicate that the tensions between Cynthia and Gertie are still smoldering.

On Saturday night at the end of The Legend Returns Miss Fortitude and Miss Gertrude Rallentando became Helen Moulder and Rose Beauchamp when they announced that it was the 10th anniversary of their launching in Hen’s Teeth of their hugely successful partnership, and they lit candles on a chocolate cake to celebrate. They also thanked their support staff over the years: Michael Wilson, Alison Holcroft, Deb McGuire, and Jeff Kingsford-Brown.

Go on, treat yourself to laughter and fun – and a cuppa at the end but don’t expect lapsang souchong.


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The comic diva, her silent accomplice and a willing chorus

Review by John Smythe 22nd Nov 2008

The Legend Returns, possibly for the last time in Wellington, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this show, share the space with a revamped version of A Vote For Cynthia (campaigning already for 2011) and delight us all with her special brand of idiosyncratic humour (Thursdays – Sundays).

Cynthia Fortitude (Helen Moulder) and her long-suffering accompanist Gertrude Rallentando (Rose Beauchamp) have come a long way from their first concerted effort in the 1986 Hen’s Teeth revue from which The Legend Returns hatched. In the ten years since they have travelled to exotic climes, according to the legend, and very recently received a standing ovation in Blenheim.

A full house on Saturday was in stitches before a word was spoken or note was sung, simply through watching Gertrude pour two cups of tea beneath their specially commissioned Egyptian mural. A miniature skeleton, introduced early, becomes a significant prop for the every evolving opera The Bones of Attis! 

En route we are treated to ‘Cynthia’s List’ of operatic gems, as best she can remember them anyway, complete with complex emoting and glorious cadenzas, courtesy Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, et al. Individual in the audience offer crucial assistance and ultimately we all become instrumental, as chorus, in developing The Bones …

Helen Moulder’s talent for engaging our services is second only to her great skills as a comic diva. Rose Beauchamp’s silent accomplice act, peppered with thunderous chords by Rachmaninoff and sudden mood-swings at the mention of one Jarvis Brown (tenor), is a piece of resistance in itself.

I’ve seen a number of Cynthia shows now and even though there are some favourite moments, it still feels fresh and new, not least because the audience involvement places it very immediately in the here and now. If you’ve never seen this, make it a must; if you’re a fan from past shows, treat yourself.

[I won’t get to A Vote For Cynthia this time round but Laurie Atkinson’s review will cover it.]


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