Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

11/04/2012 - 14/04/2012

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

10/02/2012 - 18/02/2012

Production Details

Don’t miss the return of Loons Circus Theatre Company at the Theatre Royal for an exclusive limited season!


The hit of the Nelson Arts Festival returns to the Theatre Royal in 2012.

See more of the Loons Circus Theatre Company than you’ve ever seen before. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and we know you’ll want to come back for more.

Hanussen thePalaceofBurlesqueis a raunchy night full or circus, song, theatre and mayhem performed by The Loons Circus Theatre Company with live accompaniment from Carmel Courtney and band.

Following their international and national tour of The Butler in 2010/11 The Loons Circus Theatre Company return to Nelson with their sell-out show!

The story is based on Erik Jan Hanussen, a mentalist and variety theatre owner Berlin who parallels Hitler’s rise. He was a lover of women and the casbah.

With a dynamic aerial set incorporating authentic 1930s film projection, Hanussen the Palace of Burlesque rings you live music and circus feats to thrill. An atmosphere is created that will carry you through a range of eras, locations and emotions and leave you on a high.

This show contains nudity – R16.

Special thanks to the Nelson Arts Festival team for bringing us the wonderful production as part of the 2011 festival.

At Theatre Royal Nelson February 10 -18 2012
Tickets available from the Theatre Royal Box Office 
78 Rutherford Street Nelson  03 548 3840 
or Ticket Direct  0800 224 224  (toll free)

To book your tickets online please click here 

At Q, Auckland 
Start date: Wednesday Apr 11 2012
End date: Saturday Apr 14 2012
Show times: 8pm
Venue:  Rangatira
Ticket price:  $35 – $67


Performers:  Pascal Ackermann, Skye Broberg, Carmel Courtney, Sophie Ewert, AJ Hickling, David Ladderman, Jola Siezen, Nele Siezen, Tom Trevella, Michael Watt, James Wilkinson

Set Designer:  Pascal Ackermann  

A great value show

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 14th Apr 2012

After a false start due to technical difficulties on opening night in Auckland – which was handled extremely well with 15 minutes of work being shown as a taster –  returned 2 nights later to see the latest offering to Auckland from Christchurch-based company The Loons.

Mike Friend and his company of circo-arts practitioners are gaining a reputation for creating slightly zany, highly skilled work that showcases the company’s best tricks within a strong theatrical concept.

Whereas their earlier work, The Butler, allowed each performer’s skills (hula hoops, unicycle, juggling, silks, acrobatics, pole work, etc) to sneak up and surprise the audience in unexpected ways, Hanussen is more obvious. But then there’s little room for subtlety when you’re in a German nightclub in the early 1930’s.

Following the last three days in the life of Eric Jan Hanussen, an Austrian Jewish clairvoyant and performer, the work unfolds in an adult’s playground. It takes place in a kind of burlesque cabaret where twins cavort, women titillate with feathers and chains, men dress in drag and the Third Reich is in town. Hitler came to see Hanussen perform, and the company exploit the presence of this new order well as the work advances.

There’s a wide array of sounds, images, tastes and forms of entertainment led by the palette of acts on offer. Joe Bennett writes selective biographical information about Hanussen well, but strangely this is the most undeveloped part of the show. Biographical information is not so interesting yet is vital to this piece.

Without a strong narrative that flows with sustained determination, it’s hard to empathise with characters. I wanted Tom Trevella’s mesmerising Hanussen to move me and involve the audience in a more specific story in a more specific place and time. Yet I didn’t get enough detail about the man to make me follow the central narrative.

Should his story be told by all the characters, rather than one narrator? I think the slightly ‘bitsy’ nature of a cabaret makes sustained narrative hard, but not impossible. Perhaps this is where the team should look to keep developing the show, particularly in the second half.

A great band supporting the show throughout adds real pizzazz to the whole scene. Flamenco dancing, Middle Eastern singing, percussion and vocals all lift the rich multicultural flavour of the piece. Vocals are strong and add depth to the pantheon of tastes on display. Follow spot, special effects and lighting design are well used, too. Selective use of mime and sound effects also work; should more of this be used to illustrate the narrative of Hanussen’s demise? 

Q Theatre is an ideal venue for this work with its thrust stage and three levels in a semi-intimate arena. It would be fitting to serve alcohol to the audience during the show and embrace the whole nightclub/cabaret experience much further.

Amongst a shared company effort I must mention Sophie Ewert, who is unrecognisable between characters. Hitler in drag was also a highlight; Pascal Ackermann is fantastic, although his ‘cabaret of the penis’ goes a touch too far for my liking.

This is a great value show that offers something unique and diverse. It will keep developing with audience input, so go and see it. 


Make a comment

An unforgettable night of theatre

Review by Gail Tresidder 13th Feb 2012

This production sparkles and fizzes.  Neatly held together by the fascinating true story of showman extraordinaire, Erik Jan Hanussen, the brilliant ensemble acting, skilful circus acts and singing and dancing of the finest quality, make a performance unlike anything I have ever seen.

Attention to detail, exemplified by the stage set designed with different levels for maximum impact, in itself a work of art, is apparent throughout. Gilt covered ivy leaves wreathe the apron stage, on either side of which are art deco blue lamps, their bases shapely gilt covered female legs.  There is a faux fur covered chaise longue, back-projection of smackaroo lips, silver reflecting ballroom globes and a clever piece of gear that comes down from the roof, turns in to a bed, and a film screen and also, when required, covers the large trap door .

The front section of the stalls, converted into a cabaret setting, adds to the atmosphere, as do the drifting smoke and the recorded pre-performance music from the 30s. This morphs seamlessly to the live sounds of the four piece band, led by the talented Carmel Courtney, looking splendid in her black hat and fishnet stockings, often demonstrating her musical skill by playing two saxophones simultaneously. She is supported by A J Hickling on percussion, James Wilkinson with bass and guitar and Michael Watt on keyboard, all three smooth and sassy and singing back-up vocals with relish.

A shattering intro – searchlights, sirens, sounds of bombs falling – startles the audience and primes them for the show.  Congratulations to Mike Friend, Brian Rick and Joel Vining for the sound and lighting.

Costumes are also spectacular – Skye Broberg’s beautiful gold cape transforming her in to a gorgeous butterfly prior to her aerial acrobatics on silk while Sophie Ewart, for me the superstar of the evening, is dressed to kill in satin corset, black hat, green wig and high heels.

Ewert’s tender version of Noel Coward’s ‘I’ll See You Again’, sung against a film of people fleeing pre-war Germany and Hanusenn farewelling his pregnant lover, leaving for Paris, is deeply touching and her version of the flamenco, one of precise timing and sexiness.

Pascal Ackermann, fire eating acrobat, rider of unicycles, and – as a drag queen – performer of the most risqué strip of the evening, is a rock throughout. This sequence, late in the show, more than anything, portrays the decadence of theBerlinnight life at the time, whereas Nele and Jola Siezen give us, in silhouette behind a translucent curtain, the most tasteful and beautifully synchronised double strip imaginable.

Hanussen died in 1933 having pushed his luck on the stage once too often.  In a supposed trance, he foresaw the burning down of an important city building inBerlin.  Next day, the Reichstag went up in flames and for his likely inside information, Hanussen was shot by Hitler’s secret agents.  David Ladderman tells Hanussen’s story, Tom Trevella plays the man himself. Both are convincing and involved throughout.

This is an unforgettable night of theatre.


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.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council