Hits of ’74

Centrepoint, Palmerston North

11/07/2009 - 22/08/2009

Production Details

Centrepoint Theatre is turning 35 and to celebrate 35 years of providing professional theatre in Palmerston North Lucy Schmidt and Stayci Taylor have put pen to paper and created a light hearted musical incorporating hits from the year Centrepoint Theatre was born, Hits of ’74.  What better way for Centrepoint to celebrate 35 years of outstanding theatre than to put on a new play written especially for the theatre?

The theatre’s Artistic Director, Kate Louise Elliott attributes the fact that Centrepoint still has a strong presence in the community after 35 years to the outstanding support it receives from the public, sponsors, funders and to its longstanding commitment to producing world class theatre.

Hits of 74′ focuses on old friends Tina, Jason, Kathy and Graeme  who meet regularly in Graeme’s bar, The Chicago. Though they all have fond memories of its ’70s heyday, in the here and now, things aren’t as golden. Kathy’s almost given up on husband Rikki ever making parole; Jason and Tina have almost given up on each other – but Graeme’s not giving up on The Chicago, even as business slows to a stop and the building is condemned.

Set in the present day, the actors play a multitude of characters, including their young selves in hilarious flashbacks to 1974.

As they sing their way through the smash hits of that year, they overcome their differences to pull together, save the bar and bury the past once and for all. Some of the hits in the musical include ‘Rock the Boat’ by the Hues Corporation, ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ by Blue Swede, ‘Top of the World’ by the Carpenters, ‘Right Back to Where We Started From’ by Maxine Nightingale with many more popular hits from that year.

Lucy Schmidt has co-written a number of classics including Weighing in, Netballers and Sisters.  She has also starred in numerous productions at Centrepoint Theatre. As well as co-writing Hits of ’74 she will also be taking on one of the main roles with co-writer Stayci Taylor directing the play. Starring alongside Lucy will be Kate Louise Elliott, Jeff Kingsford Brown and Patrick Davies. Lucy, Kate and director Stayci have been in many Centrepoint productions together including Pack of Girls, As You Like It and Weighing In. 

Director Stayci Taylor says the play will be a guaranteed great night out. "Lucy and I had one aim, and that was to write something uplifting and funny. The songs are fun and infectious – classic pop songs; and we wanted the humour to reflect that." Stayci remembers how much fun it was working with Lucy and Kate in a bunch of plays, including two comedies and a musical, back in the 90s here at Centrepoint. "We had such a great time, often playing multi-characters – also required of the cast this time. And Lucy and Kate would steal the show with their musical numbers – personally, I can’t wait to hear them sing again, we’ve assigned them some awesome songs." 

Stayci was thrilled to find two male actors in equally good voice. "Singing and comic timing were our main criteria in the casting – and we’ve found that in all four of our actors."

Hits of ’74 is going to be a guaranteed great night out for all ages. For those that want to make an occasion of it, Centrepoint Theatre have teamed together with a couple of Palmerston North’s top restaurants and put together a great dinner and show package. For more information on this or the show check out www.centrepoint.co.nz.

The dates for the show are July 11 – Aug 22.
The Wednesday show is 6.30pm,
Thur – Sat 8pm and Sunday at 5pm.
You can book online at www.centrepoint.co.nz
by calling 06 354 5740 or at our box-office on 280 Church Street.

Below are some of the productions the cast have been involved in together:
Pack of Girls – Centrepoint 1998 – Kate, Lucy, Stayci
As You Like It – Centrepoint 1998 – Kate, Lucy Stayci
Dancing At Lughnasa – Centrepoint 1998 – Kate, Lucy, Stayci
Shakers The Musical – Centrepoint 1998 – Kate, Lucy, Stayci
Trash (by Lucy Schmidt) – Centrepoint 1999 – Kate, Lucy, Stayci
The Cripple of Inishmaan – Centrepoint 1999 – Jeff, Kate
The Fatty & Pinhead Show (by Lucy Schmidt & Stayci Taylor) – Vancouver Comedy Festival and San Francisco Fringe Festival – Lucy and Stayci
Secret Bridesmaid’s Business – Centrepoint 2001 – Kate (director) and Lucy
The Big OE – Fortune 2001 – Stayci, Patrick
The Country Wife – Fortune 2001 – Stayci, Patrick

Take A Chance On Me – Fortune 2001 – Stayci, Patrick
Noises Off – Fortune 2002 – Stayci, Patrick
The School Ball – Centrepoint 2003 – Kate, Lucy, Jeff
Netballers (by Lucy Schmidt & Alison Quigan) – Fortune 2004 – Lucy (director) and Patrick
Weighing In (by Lucy Schmidt) – Centrepoint 2006 – Kate, Lucy, Stayci

Starring Jeff Kingsford Brown, Kate Louise Elliott, Lucy Schmidt and Patrick Davies

Show a home-grown blast from the past

Review by Lee Matthews 15th Jul 2009

Platform shoes. Super-tight super-flares, pre-lycra.  Anyone else remember breathing in to do up zips? And let’s never forget the male catsuit.

Actually, we’d all rather forgot the male catsuit, but that aside, Schmidt and Taylor have put together a fabulous, home-grown show that plucks some of the best of 1974’s music to hold the plot together.

Tina and Jason have a tired old marriage going. They’re loyally supporting their old best friends from 1974, who run the Chicago Bar.

Graeme’s the owner, and Kathy’s the barmaid, loyally cherishing her partner Ricky who’s in jail.

The Gazza’s business is dying on its feet however and when the Palmerston North City Council inspector arrives with renovations that must be made to bring the building up to code, it looks like it’s going to be The Night Chicago Died.

How did it ever get this bad? The décor gives a hint: Still beastly ’70s brown and orange (or red?) with those flying poached egg shapes in the wallpaper.

The show’s a timewarp, slipping and sliding between 1974, the year it all started, and now, which might be the year it all finishes.

The four-strong cast turn in a high-energy, tuneful performance the capacity audience adored.

They laughed, they clapped, they stomped their feet, and thoroughly enjoyed the music. Either the ’70s were good to these people, or they saw the richness in the show – people we know, people we grew up with, on the stage, right there.

Tina’s played by the sweet-voiced Lucy Schmidt, whose energy and harmony made the music work. Kate Louise Elliott is Kathy; a lot of power in the voice, a bit of tart in the backside swing and the cleavage, and altogether earthy and sexy.

Jason, Tina’s accountant husband is played by Patrick Davies, who ages engagingly from a young, geeky business-and-money guy into a middle-aged husband still in love with his wife – and still getting it wrong about what to say to women who know they’re too fat. Jeff Kingsford Brown plays Graeme, stuck firmly in the ’70’s, from the top-lip ‘tache down to the stack-heeled boots. All he’s done is drink Chicago dry and make Fisherman’s Basket meals for his mates.

There’s a lot of nice resonances between the pub being taken over by Graeme 35 years ago, and the fact that Centrepoint Theatre is celebrating 35 years of professional theatre in Palmerston North.

Go see this show. It’s something to be proud of. It’ll make you laugh. If you’re sentimental, there’s moving moments to make you reach for the tissues. The music is great – and so is Centrepoint 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. 


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A showcase of craziness with style

Review by Peter Hawes 13th Jul 2009

A ‘three pig party’ is, at least to the rugby league islanders I met at such an event, a damn good knees-up. A three-encore play suggests just as good a night out.

Well, Hits of ’74 received such an ovation at Centrepoint. "We practised the curtain call, and then blocked out an encore song, and that was that," admitted a cast member. So the third was made up on the spot. There could, at a pinch have been a fourth, the clapping was still brisk enough as Lucy Schmidt, Kate Louise Elliot, Jeff Kingsford Brown and Patrick Davies took final flight for the champagne (style) in the dressingroom. But blessedly there wasn’t – clapping is bloody painful and exhausting. Imagine being at one of those Stalin speeches where applause goes on for eleven minutes because the first one to stop disappears forever.

The headiness came far more from performance than from plot, which was a hoary old thing about the demise of Graham’s(Jeff K-B) Chicago Bar and the fortunes of a quartet of scarred, cross lovers; and of course haters. 

It’s a showcase of craziness with style, directed by clever Stayci Taylor as grand slapstick, with all the grace and precision that requires; hair-raisingly rapid costume changes, sometimes intruding upon other genders, sometimes invading the animal kingdom (Jeff KB does a bar de deux with a grizzly) and pace, pace pace.

It’s the perfect antidote for the Recession blues, revitalising energies sapped by the constant foghorning of doom from the anus of TV economiclods.  It’s a joyous statement: "Hey bankers and wankers, we do silliness well; you do stupidity very badly." Just what we need.

It brings back that deliciously juvenile "look out behind you!" quality of Mother Goose; it feeds from the ‘calamity of small things’ invented by Charlie Chaplin and perfected by Inspector Closeau – how many times can you be hit by a dunny door when you’re prepared for each opening swing? Many. And the fact that it’s Lucy ‘Ruby Red-dress’ Schmidt emerging to sing ‘Leave me alone’ makes it a rich moment of comedy.

And bejazaz, is it a play for voices! as Dylan Thomas would have said. I’ve heard all the cast, except Patrick Davies, sing before, but never as splendidly as this. Kate Louise Elliot, in several rafter-lifters, reminds us there’s opera in her family. Lucy Schmidt sings ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ with stunning sweetness – whilst so mullocked on Pims she almost makes sense of such loony lines as ‘the cactus is my friend’ and ‘send the camel to bed’. And Jeff KB, in a soulful duet with a mounted mountain goat (did he get the part because of his ability to sing with animals?) hit notes usually left to Ivan Rebroff.

As you’d expect from the writer of Trash (Schmidt), there were lines disquieting to ‘Conservative of Ashhurst’ – glorious innuendo, particularly in a ‘start at the top and work down/ do you have a rubber?’ scene which combined oral sex and the filling in of a tax form.

Hits of ’74 is an event. And an event was required, because this is Centrepoint’s thirty-fifth birthday. Yep, a three pig play for a three pig birthday party.
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Quite funny; room to grow

Review by John C Ross 12th Jul 2009

Love pop, you’ll love this show, as many people on the first night clearly did.

Centrepoint Theatre got going in January 1974, surviving, against the odds, at times, ever since; and the guts of this show is the singing of some of the pop hits of that year. Several I remember.

A plot there is, of sorts, and a range of characters, and dialogue and stage business that are often quite entertaining, so the play as such is something more than just a rack to hang the songs on. Still, it’s the singing that’s the big deal, and it’s done well, sometimes really well.

Plot-wise, you have four middle-aged characters, friends since the seventies, with Tina and Jason edgily married to each other, and Graeme running a retro-styled bar, into the ground. What are their stories, and can this little bar survive?

Having just a few actors (four in this case), with each of them playing more than one role, raises the risk that the actors’ efforts to make each character distinctive can lead to resorting to over-acting. Mostly this is avoided, but Jeff Kingsford Brown’s funny-walk style as Graeme is irritatingly over-the-top, and needs to be wound back several notches. As Kathy’s mum, while this is a parody-style role (think Topp Twins), his playing it with a big black moustache and repeatedly flashed knickers is lowest-common-denominator cheap-laugh-seeking. Even parody needs to be well-judged. With respect, the director does need to get a firm grip on this stuff. Less can truly be more effective.

At other times, bits of theatrical business are quite funny and effective. Patrick Davies as Jason going behind the bar for a fight with Rikki, also played by himself, mostly worked well, though their different heads popping up got a tad confused. The stuffed grizzly bear suddenly does a little dance. The goat’s head on the wall starts harmonising.

No grouch with Kate Louise Elliott’s acting (Kathy et al.), always vital and well-defined, nor with Lucy Schmidt’s, as Tina and others, including Kathy’s dad (a more successful Topp Twins type codger), nor with Patrick Davies’.

The character Graeme’s colourful jacket is right for the 70s, a decade between men’s wearing nondescript browns and greys, and their subsequent power-dressing as undertakers.

The music and lighting are always good.

The single setting of the bar-room is quite effective, with garishly large-patterned wallpaper, and rows of coloured lights that sometimes do all sorts of clever dancing around.

This is not really my kind of show, but doubtless others will enjoy it more thoroughly, and it does have room to grow.
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