Smoke & Mirrors

Spiegeltent, Aotea Square, Auckland

02/03/2011 - 19/03/2011

Auckland Arts Festival 2011

Production Details

The Festival is thrilled to present the sensational new show from Sydney Festival and the producers of the 2007 and 2009 sell-out hit La Clique. Oozing out of the utterly gorgeous boudoir of the Spiegeltent, Smoke & Mirrors explodes with a dazzling array of quixotic characters: Vaudevillian tap dancer, twisted chanteuse, sublime aerialist, death defying acrobats, an ooh-ahh magician – and the odd white rabbit. 

The talk of the 2010 festival circuit, Smoke & Mirrors, directed by Craig Ilott, stars the co-creator of the show, and ringmaster extraordinaire iOTA, plus a troupe of luscious burlesques and a wicked live band. Premiering to critical acclaim and a triumphant sell out season at Sydney Festival, Smoke & Mirrors was a smash hit at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and won three prestigious Helpmann Awards for Best New Australian Work, Best Cabaret Performer – iOTA, and Best Original Score. TheGuardian gave Smoke & Mirrors four stars, praising iOTA as “a remarkable presence both seductive and repellent, jaunty and regretful, malevolent and desperately sad.”

Director Craig Ilott’s career highlights include Hedwig and the Angry Inch (for which he won the 2007 Green Room Award for Best Direction) and Company B’s production of The Pillowman. Helpmann award-winner iOTA won a Green Room Award for his role in the Australian production of Hedwig and his strangely electrifying take on Frank N Furter in a recent production of The Rocky HorrorShow brought the house down. This Festival, let the Spiegeltent – situated in the magical Festival Garden – be your portal to the glamorous side of life. Join the Smoke & Mirrors troupe for a lyrical adventure – but be warned, tickets will sell fast. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Spiegeltent, Aotea Square
2 – 19 March 2011
Festival page 

Smoke & Mirrors
Commissioned by Sydney Festival and Spiegeltent International for Sydney Festival 2010 
Created by: Craig Ilott and iOTA
Director: Craig Ilott
Designer: Nicholas Dare
Lighting Designer: Matt Marshall
Musical Director: Tina Harris
Dramaturg: Saskia Moore
Company Stage Manager and Production Manager: Christopher Baglot
Sound Engineer: Siiri Metsar
James Brown*
Casey Douglas*
Wayne Scott Kermond
Chelsea McGuffin
Christian Schooneveldt-Reid
Queenie van de Zandt
Timothy Woon
Smoke & Mirrors Band
Tina Harris – Bass, guitar
Joe Accaria – Drums, percussion
Chris Ball – Keyboards, saxophone, melodica
Martin Hailey – Guitars, banjo, mandolin, lap steel
All songs written by iOTA**
With additional, original compositions by Tina Harris, Joe Accaria, Chris Ball and Martin Hailey
*Part of ThisSideUp acrobatics

**With the exception of: I Love Me (I'm Wild About Myself) [Weber E / Mahoney W / Haines J] and Brother Just Laugh It Off [Schwartz A/Rainger R/Harburg E]   

A trend? That’s okay, it’s great

Review by Janet McAllister 05th Mar 2011

A ‘concept album for the stage’ takes its audience in many directions 

Director Craig Ilot describes the slick and polished Smoke & Mirrorsas a "concept album for the stage". The show’s eclectic troupe mix suggests the concept must be, what happens when you follow a white rabbit playing a ukulele, and end up in a glam rock cabaret presented as a 19th century circus?

You are wowed by talented entertainers, that’s what, in an atmosphere of flamboyant Aussie masculinity. Moustachioed gymnasts comically pull staunch strongman poses in (suspiciously bulging) striped trunks, a check-suited tap dancer battles it out with the drums, a kiss-curled acrobat winks when she’s swinging. [More]
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Majesty and madness in Wonderland

Review by Joanna Page 04th Mar 2011

Your ticket to Smoke and Mirrors doesn’t just let you in to the Festival’s Spiegeltent; it takes you on a journey to the soulful, spectacular, and sometimes seedy side of the circus. And it’s a hell of a trip!

Craig Ilot and iOTA’s creation is one of majesty and madness – evident from the moment you settle into your ringside seat and watch a rabbit transform into your Ringmaster (iOTA) for the evening.

His role is to hold up the mirror and smoke out the truth behind the glitz, glamour and gaudiness before you, yet he never turns the mirror on himself. Channeling Elvis, Tim Curry’s Frank N Furter, America’s Next Top Model’s Miss J and Bono (all in equal measure), he balances dominating the stage with blending into the background to let other performers take centre stage.

And they do.

There’s Wayne Scott Kermond’s vaudeville slapstick love song and tap-drum battle. There are breathtaking displays of acrobatics and a deadpan hand-balancing strength showdown from James Brown, Casey Douglas, Christian Schooneveldt-Reid. There’s sleight of hand, classic magic and illusion from Timothy Woon. And Kali Retallack’s trapeze work almost had me wishing I hadn’t quit gymnastics at the age of six.

And then there’s Queenie van de Zandt’s electrolysis-challenged goddess who holds the audience in the palm of her hand with a voice to rival Alison Krauss and a full Gospel choir. 

Throughout it all human-sized rabbits evoke an element of Alice in Wonderland – and wonderland is exactly where you are. 

This isn’t a happy take-the-kids circus. This is a place of loss and longing where the façade of fantasy crumbles quickly. And everything about it draws you in. The costumes, sound, lighting and design transport you straight to the Ringmaster’s world and the band couldn’t be tighter (especially in their Jesus of Montreal-esque porn soundtrack). 

This production is seamless. It wouldn’t work if any one element was slightly off. I loved it, and while I shan’t run away to join the circus, I shall by another ticket so I can visit it again. 
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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