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

03/12/2020 - 20/12/2020

Production Details

A show like you’ve never seen before – and may not see again 

Hens’ Teeth is delighted to present at Circa, a highly entertaining theatrical season showcasing the remarkable talents of Coral Trimmer (harmonica virtuoso), Sunny Amey (comedian), Dame Kate Harcourt (actor). In common they have talent, skill and age – they are all over 90.

Kate JasonSmith, the brains behind Hens’ Teeth, was inspired by Coral’s outstanding harmonica performance at her younger brother Sir Jon Trimmer’s 80th birthday. 

At the same event Sunny burst on to the comedy scene with her take on getting older.

By putting Dame Kate into the mix, she realised she had a show on her hands! Looking round Kate found there was a pool of talented Gold Card performers still in the business and managed to secure a fabulous collection to complete the line-up for The Older the Better.

They include Helen Moulder opera singer and comedian, pianist Rose Beauchamp, and dancer and actor Jan Bolwell. Appearing throughout the season will be playwright Renée, International speaker Gill Greer, piano bar lady Linn Lorkin, writer Rachel McAlpine, performance poet Margaret Austin, and others… It is a moveable feast.

This unmissable show will be compèred by Kate JasonSmith.

Circa Two, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
3-20 December 2020
Tues To Sat 6pm, Sun 4.30 
$30 Special 2 Dec
Bookings (04) 801 7992 or  

The performers you may or may not see on any given night:
Coral Trimmer, Sunny Amey, Dame Kate Harcourt,
Helen Moulder, Rose Beauchamp, Jan Bolwell, Renée, Gill Greer, Linn Lorkin, Rachel McAlpine, Margaret Austin, Annie Ruth ...

Compered by Kate JasonSmith

Lighting Design:  Lisa Maule 
Stage Manager:  Johanna Sanders
Technical Operator:  Niahm Campbell-Smith
Publicist:  Colleen McColl
Illustration & Graphic Design:  Emma Cook
Finale Song composed by Robin Nathan
Pre-show playlist:  Francesca Brice
Box Office Manager:  Eleanor Strathern
Front of House Manager:  Harish Purohit 

Variety , Theatre , Sketch ,

1 hr 15 min (no interval)

Women only get better with age

Review by Ines Maria Almeida 05th Dec 2020

As humans with an understanding of just how mortal we are, aging makes us uncomfortable. Cameras add 10 kilograms, but they also magnify our imperfections and wrinkles, as anyone who had to use Zoom over the last few months can attest to. Not a lot of parts can be found for women over 40, and many actresses turn to plastic surgery to hide their age.  

Thankfully, none of the fabulous women in The Older the Better, presented by Hen’s Teeth, got this Hollywood memo. Producer and MC Kate JasonSmith takes a bevy of older beauties to Circa’s stage, highlighting and showing off their talents, despite their ages which range from 70 to 93. The stage is muted with a couch, a carpet, and a piano, but that’s all it needs. We’re here to see the women. [More
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An exceptional and exemplary event

Review by John Smythe 04th Dec 2020

Talk about troupers!

The Older The Better’s headline trio were ‘between wars’ babies: a resilient generation, born into the aftermath of a World War and an influenza pandemic to live through a Depression and another World War then rebuild and revitalize ‘GodZone country’, bringing forth the ‘Boomer’ generation and negotiating the social revolution that followed, not to mention the radical changes in communication and other technologies …

You’d think these women, as nonagenarians, would be ready for a lie down now. Well not Coral Trimmer, Sunny Amey and Dame Kate Harcourt. The slings and arrows of inevitable aging and unexpected physical mishaps notwithstanding, they put the ‘up’ into ‘trouper’, stepping up to enrich our lives with entertaining acts – supported by a moveable feast of octogenarian and septuagenarian women at Circa Theatre’s intimate Circa Two.  

The Older The Better is the brainchild of Kate JasonSmith, who produced many Hens’ Teeth variety shows back in the days. A similar format is followed here with JasonSmith hosting as compère, invariably elevating information that threatens to be mundane with a laugh-inducing twist. Is there a female equivalent of ‘Dad joke’? JasonSmith is a past mistress at those! I’m not sure, however, that we really need to be coached into how to respond as an audience. In an atmosphere rich with respect and admiration, it feels a tad patronizing, although tonight’s audience is warmly disposed and happy to play along – not least because Rose Beauchamp has enlivened the space before the show starts with her piano playing.

Ostensibly to honour the producer’s contract with the sponsors, Dame Kate Harcourt’s sardonic Maude Hornby (first performed 32 years ago, when she was 61) extols the virtues of her retirement home with exquisitely dry comic timing.

We are indeed fortunate to have songwriter and pianist Linn Lorkin in town this week (there’s a whisper she may return for the final week). She launches her set with her iconic ‘At The Beach’ (voted Best Kiwi Summer Song of the 20th Century) and later tops it with her very witty ‘International Sofa Lady’.

Lorkin on piano also teams up with the astonishingly agile Coral Trimmer – a virtuoso on harmonica who leaps about to physically manifest their ‘I Got Rhythm’ duet. A lovely bit of blarney introduces their surprisingly moving rendition of ‘Danny Boy’. Later they will return with ‘Stormy Weather’ and ‘St Louis Blues’.

Sunny Amey – famed as a theatre director – revives the art of the raconteur with true stories, witty parodies and a 1930s Depression song that Kiwi kids thought was naughty. Her deceptively light touch offers intriguing insights.

We have a cancelled tour to Kazakhstan to thank for being treated to the wonderous talents of Cynthia Fortitude (Helen Moulder) and her pianist and puppeteer Gertie (Rose Beauchamp), resplendent in curly white wigs. Their operatic Diane and Andy – the tragic love story of a Kiwi corn farmer and an Australian maize farmer, updated from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas – is, as they say, to die for.  

Another opening night guest is Margaret Austin, who regales us with a personal and neatly crafted story called, ‘Should I Lie About My Age?’ involving her time as an exotic dancer in Paris then on a European tour. This too is rich with with the atmosphere of bygone value systems.

Also salutary when it comes to European men, is Jan Bolwell’s spot, sparked by a cancelled-by-covid trip to Italy with her sister, to visit the family who sheltered their escaped POW father during the war (inspiring Jan’s solo play, Dancing On My Hands). It climaxes with relished put-downs of predatory males in Italian, then segues into a solo circular line dance to Donnalou Stevens’ ‘Older Ladies’, which brings on the backing singers and gives us all a chance to yodel.

Just as we think it’s all over, Cynthia returns with her sister from Hokitika (Dame Kate) to pop the proverbial cherry on top with the ‘Pa–, pa–, pa–, Papageno’ duet from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Sublime.

The finale song – ‘The Older The Better’ – composed by Robin Nathan, brings everyone back on and gives us all another chance to sing along and applaud this exceptional and exemplary event.

PS: It occurs to me that the secret of their longevity and capacity to perform at 90+ is breathing. Let that be a lesson to us all! 


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