Good magazine was lucky enough to get along to a performance of live musical City of 100 Lovers – an original and uniquely Kiwi production that blends Broadway routines with Maori and Pacific dance performances in unexpected yet delightful ways.
The dancing is fantastic, the story entertaining and funny. There are even some fly-on-the-wire special effects. Overall it is a great celebration of our culture as well as a great night out, making it a great experience for New Zealanders as well as overseas visitors who want to learn more about Aotearoa.
Produced in New Zealand, the $8Million budget spectacular is designed to be a permanent fixture at SKYCITY Theatre, filling a gap in the market for evening entertainment options in Auckland City, giving visitors more reason for Auckland to be a destination not a transit point on their itinerary.
The musical brings together the best talent from New Zealand, Australia, China and the USA. The 158 strong team of cast, crew, design and production have created an 80-minute show, with more than 150 costumes, 16 musical numbers, including 11 original songs, that will be showcased across 6 shows a week, in the 700-seat SKYCITY Theatre for an initial 9 month season, with the vision of becoming a permanent show. But don't wait that long to see it!
The original story concept created by bestselling New Zealand author, Justin Brown and developed by American Tony Award nominee, Peter Kellogg, brilliantly dissects NZ culture with the best of it on show.
With strong Māori themes which are woven into the music, dance, costume and storyline, much weight has been given to investing time and resource in ensuring that these elements are authentic whilst modernised for a contemporary theatre show.
Cultural Advisor and Māori Talent Curator, Paora Sharples, has brought his wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of traditional and contemporary Māori performing arts and Te Reo Māori to City of 100 Lovers.
“The show presents an amazing opportunity to showcase Māori culture in a manner that is rooted in strong tradition but presented in a musical production”, says Sharples.
“I am passionate about presenting Māori culture to new audiences, in a way that is relevant for today’s society and I believe the show will lead to other opportunities for New Zealand to tell our story in new and interesting ways”.
For Artistic Director, Vincent Ward, whose role has been to guide the project visually and to support the Director to achieve his goals, Ward says that City of 100 Lovers is an incredibly interesting proposition. “You have a New York Director who has been part of hundreds of theatre shows, a costume designer from China with a highly imaginative vision, a brilliant New Zealand composer, gifted visual content and design team and a highly talented cast who have all come together to orchestrate an accessible and entertaining show about Auckland and visiting Auckland”.
Show director Tony Stimac hails from New York and whose expertise lies in creating original musicals. Head Costume Designer, Ding Ding has styled and designed the wardrobe for multiple high profile Chinese films and live performances and has used handcrafted materials and special fibres to create other-worldly costumes.
“We have used special technology, luminescent fibres and other low-voltage light-emitting materials to create show-stopping costumes which push the boundaries of theatre costume to more installation art," says Ding Ding.
Musical Director, Composer and lyricist, Tom McLeod brings his APRA and Silver Scroll award winning talent to the creation of music and lyrics.
“Musically this is a really exciting project” says McLeod. “It is a rare and special thing to get to create an original New Zealand musical, and to have it recorded by the APO and performed by a 26-strong cast, along with a live band each night – it’s a huge privilege."
Choreographer, Taiaroa Royal is one of New Zealand’s foremost contemporary dancers and he is passionate about intertwining his art form with Māori beliefs.
“There is an eclectic mix of dance and cultural elements, while still being a musical theatre performance”, says Royal. “Each morning we have a Karakia to bring everyone together, to connect us to our land and acknowledge our tangata whenua. From here the spirit of who we are and the unique perspective in the way we present our art doesn’t leave us; and audiences will be able to see this on stage."
An extremely technical show, with hundreds of split second cues with projections, music and lighting; every scene, song and moment has been tweaked and refined with the aim of making the 80-minute show an entertaining and engaging spectacle.
City of 100 Lovers NZ’s longest running resident theatre production, is soon to become an iconic Auckland entertainment offering, by introducing a world class cultural and theatrical experience to the central city.
Tickets are on sale at ticketek.co.nz