Hamilton gardens, Victorian Garden Conservatory, Hamilton

23/02/2016 - 23/02/2016

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

This original musical theatre selection is the creation of composer David Sidwell, librettist John Mandelberg, and orchestrator Wayne Senior.

Based on the work of Russian writer Nikolai Gogol and featuring a cast of twenty of the Waikato’s principal actor/singers, accompanied by a lush twenty-five-piece orchestra conducted by Victoria Trenwith.  

NB: Performances of the full show at Clarence Street Theatre will be held on Saturday 20th February, 2pm and 8:30pm.

Tuesday 23 Feb, 8.00pm 
Victorian Garden Conservatory 
Tickets:  $10.00  
Musical Theatre/ Seated /45 minutes  
Sponsored by:  Creative New Zealand 

Theatre , Musical ,

An excellent musical in the making

Review by Andrew Buchanan-Smart 25th Feb 2016

It is not often one gets the opportunity review an original work, ‘hot off the press’ so to speak, but also a work in the process of being created. This concert performance has yet to be staged and choreographed.  Essentially there are three interlinking stories that all occur on Nevsky Prospekt which is the main thoroughfare in St. Petersburg, and possibly one of the most famous streets in Russia.

Of the stories, the first is about Pirogov and a Blonde. Pirogov is besotted by a blonde (who is married) and the story is about his attempted seduction and the unfolding consequences.

The second is about Piskarev and She. Piskarev is infatuated by She. He enters an opium-induced state only to realise that fantasy and reality have some vital discrepancies. The third is about Gogol and his sexuality.

All three stories engage, the most tenuous being the one about Gogol. There are strong charters and the Pirogov and Piskarev episodes both work well but could be a little more focused and condensed.

While all the major characters engage, both Princess Volkonskaya and Maria Kosiarowska could have more of an impact on the storyline and they could both have another aria/song. The musical content is exceptionally strong and there are two or three show stoppers. My Secret by She really impresses.

The narrator carried out two functions: one is to give the back story and set the scene; the other is to give stage directions. My sense is that the narrator in a staged performance will be redundant. The ensemble and company items are powerful. In the dance sequences one can easily imagine choreography with polkas, waltzes, gavottes and tangos being strong elements.  

My only concern is the overall length. Many of the individual items, although excellent in themselves, could be reduced. The strongest elements and what makes the show work are the music/orchestration and the Pirogov and Piskarev stories. This could almost be called Nevsky Prospekt because essentially that is what it is about.  

Tales of Nicolai Gogol has all the hallmarks of an excellent musical in the making; a little judicious editing of both text and music will get it there.  


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