SPECTOR – with The BeatGirls and special guest Jason Chasland

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

14/07/2012 - 28/07/2012

Production Details

The BEATGIRLS present a musical tribute to one of pop’s legendary producers.  

The BeatGirls are back at Circa for TWO WEEKS ONLY with an homage to one of music’s most influential record producers, Rock’n Roll’s legendary madman  – Phil Spector!  

Spector showcases the best work from Phil’s career and recounts the stories around the music as told by the artists with whom he worked: The Ronettes, The Chiffons, The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers, John Lennon, The Beatles, Tina Turner and more!  

A far cry from the success, glamour and Hollywood mansions Spector now resides at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility where he is serving life for murder.  Well known for his eccentric behaviour and penchant for wearing terrible wigs, Phil has described himself as ‘relatively insane’ a fact backed up by those who worked with him.

Over time people may forget Phil Spector but his music will live on with new generations discovering the songs that got the world rocking and changed the face of music forever.

Starring Carolyn McLaughlin, Kali Kopae, Andrea Sanders and special guest Jason Chasland, Spector features hit songs such as Be My Baby, He’s A Rebel, Da do Ron Ron, Unchained Melody, Imagine, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, My Sweet Lord and River Deep Mountain High.

Spector is a spectacular celebration of an amazing career spanning over 60 years.


14-28 July, 6.30pm Tues & Wed, 8.00pm Thurs-Sat, 2.00pm Sun
Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Wellington
Bookings: 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz
Cost: $46/38/25 Groups 6+ $39 each
$25 Preview Friday 13th July & Sunday 15th July

Andrea Sanders
Caroline McLaughlin
Kali Kopae
Jason Chasland 

Set by Rose Kirkup
Costumes by Paul Jenden, Anne Scott and Andrea Sanders
Sound by James Wood
Lighting by Jennifer Lal 

Technical Operator               Jennifer Lal 
Set Construction                   Rose Kirkup 
Publicity                                 Brianne Kerr
Graphic Design                      Rose Miller
Photography Poster              Stephen A’Court
Photographer Production      Paul McLaughlin
House Manager                     Suzanne Blackburn
Box Office                              Linda Wilson 

Quirky, fun, upbeat

Review by Michael Boyes 17th Jul 2012

Phil Spector, the man who straddled the music industry and lived to tell the tale, has proven to be a veritable gold mine in the excessively capable hands of New Zealand’s favourite girl group, the Beatgirls.

The biography of Spector’s enviably varied career of pop-music production provides the framework for 90 minutes of toe-tapping tribute. Musical visionary /collaborator extraordinaire /madman of fame and fortune, his accolades include the virtual creation of the ’60s girl group (The Crystals, The Ronettes, and The Chiffons are all given due mention), the development of his ‘wall of sound’ recording technique, and collaborative recordings with many of pop’s greats (The Righteous Brothers, The Ramones, The Beatles, John Lennon, and Tina Turner were all touched by our Midas). [More


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Icon’s engaging trip through great musical era

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 16th Jul 2012

As infamous as he was famous, Phil Spector has been one of the most influential people in the music industry post Rock and Roll.  Developing the Spector ‘Wall of Sound’ production technique out of the Brill Building studios in New York, and with the creation of his girl groups such as The Ronnettes and The Crystals, he produced over 25 top 40 hits between 1960 and 1965.

It is therefore fitting that Wellington’s own girl-group, The Beatgirls, who specialise in ‘60’s music, should bring together a show about the life and music of Phil Spector in Spector, currently playing at Circa Theatre.

On a black and white set imaginatively designed by Rose Kirkup and effectively lit by lighting designer Jennifer Lal, the current line up of the Beatgirls, Andrea Sanders, Caroline McLaughlin and Kali Kopae strut their stuff in black and white halter neck miniskirts, black knee length boots and large black bouffant hair dos.

Devised by lead singer Sanders with help from the cast and excellently choreographed by Sanders, the show follows a tried and true formula of songs interspersed with snippets about the rise and subsequent fall of Phil Spector.

But although it is a factual biography of his life in reasonably chronological order, the humorous and almost irreverent way it is told, with many delightfully animated gestures supplementing the dialogue, makes the telling of the Spector story engaging and very entertaining.

And the singing from all three, both as a group and as individuals, is superb and from the opening numbers of ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ and ‘He’s A Rebel’ it is obvious that these girls know their songs, know the style required and are very confident in their delivery of each song.

Part way through the first half they are then joined by Jason Chasland who very effectively adds a male dimension to the Spector story and songs.  He blends in well with the Beatgirls and is able to match their saucy humour and not-so subtle innuendo. 

The second half begins with a tribute to the Beatles and their collaboration with Spector not long before their break up with everyone on stage dressed in colourful psychedelic full flowing outfits. 

While the songs were presented straight, the group rendition of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ particularly impressive, the linking patter became rather crass and silly.  After a costume change, something that was needed in the first half, the show concludes with Spector’s fall from grace ending up in prison, where he currently resides, for the second degree murder of waitress Lana Clarkson. 

The finale – Tina Turners ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ – was a great way to end this fascinating story of a remarkable man. If the music of the 60’s was what you grew up with, then this show is a great nostalgic trip. For those who didn’t, go and see it anyway and experience one of our greatest musical eras. 


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Superb Spector-inspired spectacle

Review by Virginia Kennard 15th Jul 2012

Split into two Acts, Spector is a biographical trip through the life and music of Phil Spector: record producer, songwriter, Rock and Roll’s legendary madman. For opening night, guests were invited to dress up in all things 1960s-70s, in celebration of the songs to be performed – a range of vocal treats produced, written or inspired by Spector – though none of the audience’s costumes could live up to the fabulous rainbow dresses that adorn the BeatGirls at the beginning of Act II.

Spector is an impressive range of some 21 well-known hits that showcase the incredible vocal range and talents of the BeatGirls: Andrea Sanders, Caroline McLaughlin and Kali Kopae.

Opening with ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’, Act I is heavily scripted, with fact-laden and initially cringe-worthy text introducing each song. It is a relief when the three performers let loose on more songs, such as ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ and ‘Then He Kissed Me’ and visibly relax into their script.

By ‘Baby I Love You’, the BeatGirls establish their characters within their dance styles: Maureen (Caroline) the composed and feminine, Doreen (Kali) the kook, and Chlorine (Andrea) the leader. Chlorine engages well: staged trips to the audience feel the most connected from her.

It would be advantageous to the slickness of their choreography to allow the characters to emerge later. Opening night fumbles are well-recovered from in Act II but the dancing could be tighter Act I. The volume in the mikes finally increases so thankfully all their voices can be heard over the backing tracks. Certainly the ad-libbing and fun at their own expense keeps Act II exciting and fresh without the tension of the opening Act.

The arrival on-stage of honorary BeatGirl Jason Chasland ups the energy levels, the BeatGirls demonstrating their prowess as back-up dancers during ‘Pretty Little Angel Eyes’ then sublimely pulling back focus with ‘Spanish Harlem’, ‘That Loving Feeling’, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ and ‘I Can Hear Music’.

Jason is easily a limelight-stealer with his spectacular charisma and universe-filling voice, not least with Ray Charles’ ‘What I’d Say’ in which The Beatgirls’ choreography is well-crafted and Jason’s superb waddling physicality a crowd favourite. 

Launching with ‘Power to the People’, Act II is The Righteous Brothers and John (“Brother”) Lennon-themed, with a more playful script – less fact-based and more story-like.  The songs swing from ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘Instant Karma’, along ‘The Long and Winding Road’ to ‘Let It Be’ and (Just Like) ‘Starting Over’.

The arrangement of ‘Imagine’ is the only song flop of the night, the original’s moving quality lost in the overly dramatic warbling and performance. The renditions of ‘Come Together’ and ‘Get Back’ are much more enjoyable, with the dance-lyrical talents of Caroline, Kali and Andrea and the unbridled power of Andrea’s voice a joy.

The pop ballad ‘Unchained Melody’ then ‘River Deep and Mountain High’ bring, from all performers, powerful closure to the night, after the well-produced songs of Act I and humorous antics of Act II.

Overall: a superb Spector-inspired spectacle. 


John Smythe July 15th, 2012

Also meant to say that the wittily rhymed interpolations that punctuate the otherwise hypnotic ‘Power to the People’ (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band) are a welcome way of revitalising some of that 70s social revolutionary feel. Right on! 

John Smythe July 15th, 2012

The visual design elements of Spector deserve special mention, I feel, from one who was there (in the 60s and 70s, I mean, as well as at the show last night).

Rose Kirkup’s circular white rostra in a black space abundantly hung with round white paper-lantern lampshades is perfectly complemented by the black-and-white circle prints on the BeatGirls’ mini-frocks. Their large black beehive and long-locked hairdos (upon which Amy Winehouse based her retro look), and long black leather boots, complete this authentic evocation of the Mary Quantesque 1960s beautifully.

Then in Act II costume designers Paul Jenden, Anne Scott and Andrea Sanders drape the girls in flowing psychedelic rainbow tones and Jennifer Lal’s impeccable lighting also erupts with colour.

They revert to pale blue minis, blonde wigs and white boots for the final segment, which finally acknowledges the dark side of the Spector story, via his girl group The Crystals’ non-hit, ‘He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss). Having recoiled, in the first half, at the BeatGirls’ making light of Spector’s being in jail for murder – linking it to Gene Pitney’s ‘He’s A Rebel’ – I am pleased to see it confronted seriously, not least because it takes the show beyond the ‘concert’ mode and gives it dramatic structure.

While I could do without the gratuitously mean-spirited put-downs of the likes of Cher and Barry Manilow, I love the stoned humour of the second half and the way it blends into their sublime arrangement of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.

The fabulous musicality and harmonies of the BeatGirls keep me constantly amazed that they are producing this sound ‘live’, before our very eyes, and sound designer James Woods must share credit for how it comes over (when the voice /backing-track balance is right). And Jason Chasland’s outrageous humour almost upstages his extraordinary vocal range and musical versatility.

By the way, this show is only on for two weeks (until Sat 28 July).  

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