Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

15/02/2016 - 17/02/2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Attack of the 50ft Choir 

Wellington’s all-female vocal band 10dd is teaming with some of our finest female musicians for a special production of science fiction theme music. Aptly staged in the iconic Hannah Playhouse, Women are from Mars puts a new twist on film favourites like Star Wars and The Rocky Horror Picture Show alongside TV greats like X-Files, Twilight Zone and Red Dwarf. It tackles the sublime in pop icons Flash and Rocket Man and the ridiculous in The Jetsons and Star Trekkin’.

Women are from Mars will appeal to all age groups with familiar songs that have permeated our culture, in some cases for decades. But the delivery will be fresh – from Bulgarian choral to Deep Purple rock, Women are from Mars will leave the audience with a smile on their faces and a tune on their lips.

Mars Attacks!

Women are from Mars is produced by award winning, charting musician and 10dd founder Julie Lamb. She is also an experienced performance director having run large, multi-band performances including the annual Breast Cancer Network NZ fundraiser Green for the Pink; Music Month Muster; and festival soundstages.

Julie will be joined by the all-female ensemble including the vibrant vocal band 10dd featuring Ann Pacey, Annette Esquenet, Jacky Dwane, Janet Galloway, Janice Tossman, Jude Madill, Sharon McLuskie, Kate Richardson, Kathrine Christiansen, Lisa Cheney, Louise Caig and Miranda Turner.

They will be joined by acclaimed Wellington musicians Lisa Tagaloa (bass), Olivia Campion (drums), Christine White (guitar), Amity Alton-Lee (saxophone/Clarinet) and Shan Jordan (keyboards).

A million to one, but still they come

Hannah Playhouse
15-17 February

10dd (singers): Annette Esquenet, Debbie Brocklehurst, Jacky Dwane, Janet Galloway, Janey Richards, Janice Tossman, Jude Madill, Julie Lamb, Kate Richards, Katherine Christiansen, Lisa Cheney, Louise Caig

The Band: Amity Alton-Lee (saxophones, flute, clarinet), Christine White (guitar), Lisa Tagaloa (bass) Olivia Campion (drums), Shan Jordan (keyboard) 

Lighting – Nic Cave-Lynch (Tymar Lighting)
Sound – Mike Horlor, Videography – Sarah Duckworth

Theatre , Musical ,

Many wonderful and nostalgic themes to be heard

Review by Pepe Becker 16th Feb 2016

On yet another hot summer’s night in Welly, twelve singers and a five-piece band bring some hot ‘out-of-this-world’ sci-fi music to a smallish but warm opening-night audience. Space puns and humorous interjections abound throughout the hour-and-a-bit long journey through a world of cosmic movie and TV-show songs ranging from War of the Worlds through The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Star Wars and Star Trek, with much variety of colour and enterprising interpretations of some well-known classics. 

The (not quite) 50 Foot choir, silver-faced and clad in spangly space wear, begin slightly tentatively – perhaps due to the high temperature, and also the low range of some of the early numbers in the show – but are clearly enjoying themselves and loving the music. The singers seem to be a mix of keen amateurs and experienced performers, with some being more at ease on stage than others. Julie Lamb, Annette Esquenet, Jacky Dwane, Lisa Cheney, Miranda Turner and Kate Richards are among the more confident in terms of presence during solos, with Miranda Turner’s characterisation, Lisa Cheney’s conviction and Kate Richards’ control being particularly noteworthy. 

There are many moments of flair and pathos in the solo singing, though at times the tuning of the backing vocals is quite disparate: some flatness and tightness is apparent when a few of the choir over-push their voices in the harmony work, which results in a less supported background for the lead singer(s). These sporadic tuning issues, and a few other less-than-convincing a capella moments, are forgivable, given the overall vibe of enjoyment and the choice instrumental and vocal arrangements.

The band provides solid support throughout the show and, though they take a while to settle in the very opening, there are some very funky grooves and excellent playing as they get cooking. Amity Alton-Lee seems more comfortable in the later songs, providing some nice baritone sax solos; bass player Lisa Tagaloa and drummer Olivia Campion are an excellent and consistent rhythm section; guitarist Christine White has some great slide moments and energetic solos, and Shan Jordan delivers an impressive array of orchestral timbres and spacey sounds from the keyboard.

If you’re an avid sci-fi movie watcher of old, there are many wonderful and nostalgic themes to be heard here – some of them true to the original renditions, and some of them “not quite as we know it, Captain” but equally enjoyable.  


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