01/05/2021 - 05/06/2021
Written by Anthony McCarten and Stephen Sinclair
Directed by Sam Snedden
THE COURT THEATRE HEATS UP WITH THE ARRIVAL OF STRIP-SHOW, LADIES NIGHT
Barry, Gavin, Norman, Craig and Wes find themselves down on their luck outside the pub on Saturday night. What starts as a drunken joke, rapidly becomes
a challenge they can’t back out of… an all-male strip show.
Will they have the bravery, the bods and the balls to follow through? Ladies Night is a raucous comedy about the power of friendship, determination and classic Kiwi ingenuity. Not to be missed!
Written in 1987 by Anthony McCarten and Stephen Sinclair, Ladies Night was a global theatrical hit. It has been translated into 16 languages and remains New Zealand’s most commercially successful play of all time. After eight sell-out tours of Britain, it went on to win The Molière Prize, France’s premiere theatre award
for comedy, in 2001. The Court Theatre last produced this play in 2004 – some 17 years ago.
The show follows five Kiwi blokes who dare each other to put on a male strip show, after falling down on their luck and needing some extra cash.
And for those worried about whether they can bring their partners, Ladies Night makes a perfect date-night, as well as a fantastic evening out with your friends.
“Uncontrollable laughter rang from the crowd of women – and men – as the lovable characters found their way into the hearts and the fantasies of the audience,” said Maxine Jacobs in her review for Stuff.
Director Sam Snedden has brought together a cast of lookers, including Roy Snow (Chicago), Hayden Tee (internationally renowned for his Broadway
performances in Les Misérables), Isaac Pawson (Jersey Boys), Nic Kyle (Jesus Christ Superstar), Shadon Meredith (Spartacus) and Will Hall (Westside).
Lead by choreographer Hillary Moulder, you can expect to crack up and swoon in equal measures.
Phoebe Hurst (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Kathleen Burns (The Pink Hammer) round out the cast with a much-needed female perspective, providing
the insight into what women want – as opposed to what Barry and Gavin think would be a good idea…
“With the world still an unpredictable place, we wanted to programme a show that provided a night out full of fun, entertainment and a little bit of sexiness!”
says The Court’s Artistic Director, Dan Pengelly.
“Ladies Night is unbelievably fun,” says Pengelly. “Let your hair down, grab a rosé (or a beer, no judgement here) and enjoy the show!”
“A hilarious adult comedy about taking risks, friendships and a good dose of Kiwi ‘can-do’ spirit. It’s a must-see.” NZ Herald
The Court Theatre, Addington, Christchurch
1 May – 5 June 2021
Monday & Thursday: 6:30pm
Matinee Performance: 2pm Saturday 29 May
Adult: $58 – $64
Senior: $52 – $58
Group (6+): $54
Supporter: $50 – $56
Community Services or KiwiAble Leisure cardholders: $35
30 Below (aged 30 & under): $30
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit www.courttheatre.org.nz
Show Sponsor: The Breeze
Director: Sam Snedden
Choreographer: Hillary Moulder
Set Designer: Nigel Kerr
Costume Designer: Amy Macaskill
Lighting Designer/Head Technician/Operator: Giles Tanner
Sound Designer: Matt Short
Stage Manager: Jo Bunce
Photography by Emma Brittenden
Theatre , Boylesque ,
From low key to high temperature
Review by Tony Ryan 02nd May 2021
According to sales statistics, tonight’s programme tells us, Ladies Night “is New Zealand’s most commercially successful play”. That, along with another statistic, namely that “the majority of theatre ticket purchases are made by women”, seems to be the main justification for choosing this play to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Court Theatre’s founding – and well worth celebrating it certainly is. The choice of a New Zealand play is, of course, very appropriate. This play has been around since 1987 and since then has been frequently revived and produced both in New Zealand and abroad, including more than once at Court Theatre. Tonight, though, is my first encounter with Ladies Night.
I have no record of how many Court Theatre productions I’ve seen, right from its first days in the Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers, but there are many of which an impression, if not every detail, remain firmly fixed in my memory. The range, resonance and richness has been astonishing, and I’m grateful for the experience as an audience member and, especially, for the three or four that I’ve been personally involved with.
My two most recent visits to Court Theatre (Jersey Boys and Things I Know to be True) have expanded the variety and broadened my theatre experience even further. Now Ladies Night certainly adds to that variety.
As with any play, Ladies Night’s effectiveness is partly dependant on the director and casting, but here also the nature of any given audience also plays a part. When we reach the interval, I sense a slightly underwhelmed response from tonight’s audience. We certainly laugh at the genuine comedy that is undeniably a major part of the script’s content, but the characters tend to come across as rather two dimensional as they wade through an all-too-predictable plot.
But I suppose what the majority of the audience has come for is the entertainment of the strip show that will inevitably result, as it did in The Full Monty (some ten years after the first production of Ladies Night), from the unlikely scenario of a group of unemployed, working-class men finding success as professional male strippers. So, after the somewhat predictable ploy of a scene in which the show will not go on (it does go on of course), we get just that – a strip show. As such, this has the audience response rising to fever pitch as each of the four strippers in turn presents their steamy and seductive individual acts, followed by an ensemble routine which ends the play.
I guess the success of Ladies Night depends on your expectations. If you’re anticipating buff male bodies teasingly and gradually revealed after two hours of gentle comedy, you’re certainly in the right place. All four of the stripper-actors have the physical attributes and performance skills to carry off the show’s climax. And each has a distinctive, if a little stereotypical, character which, in just two cases, is carried over into their strip acts; and all four are at ease with engaging the audience and extracting our vocally frenzied response.
Of the four, Isaac Pawson (Norman) stands out for the most convincing and consistent characterisation, especially in the earlier scenes when all four are required to portray a degree of macho bravado, uncouth behaviour and very amateurish theatrical skills; but not all are totally convincing. The problem with skilled actors trying to convey a lack of acting skills is that, to an extent, it comes across as actual amateurism. And while Roy Snow (Barry), Shadon Meredith (Wes) and Nic Kyle (Craig) all demonstrate effective professionalism in the later scenes, they can sometimes seem effortful in the earlier ones.
Hayden Tee as Gavin is also consistently convincing with a genuinely comic ability, although his sudden transformation into a fully developed (in every sense), cross-dressing MC at the end, while very entertaining, is theatrically unconvincing. As the loutish Grahame, Will Hall is also consistently persuasive, but his character could have been developed far more substantially than the writers allow him in his brief appearances. Kathleen Burns and Phoebe Hurst, as trainer and club owner respectively, also make sterling efforts at characterisation within the limited scope allowed them.
Director, Sam Snedden seems content to let the play direct itself. Although I personally have no comparison with any previous production, my general impression is that all the presentation emerges naturally from the script and the actors, rather than from any special enhancement of the drama, comedy and physicality by the director. Although directors can sometimes be overly interventionist, I feel a slight absence of unity of momentum and motivation in tonight’s performance.
Set, costumes, choreography, lighting and sound are all very effective and unobtrusively supportive.
The opening night audience is almost as diverse in both age and gender as I would expect at any Court Theatre event, although larger groups of young women are more evident than usual. And it does need to be said that, after the low-ish key response to the first act of Ladies Night, this audience definitely rises to the hype and enticement of the second act with a genuinely appreciative standing ovation before we’re sent out into the notably lower temperatures outside.
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