Monday, July 26, 2010

The Assassins , Concent Chamber, Auckland Town Hall,14 August 2010

Sally and I attended last Friday and thoroughly enjoyed the show Cabaret is not a regular event in Auckland. When living in Wellington in the mid 1970s we were spoiled by Red Mole's performances at Carmen's Balcony every Sunday night.

Wellington was not only our political capital but also our cultural centre.
New Zealand was at a time of change. A colourful transvestite,Carmen had run for the mayoralty of Wellington. Piggy Muldoon was elected Prime Minster, tens of thousands of people were in the streets. Maritime unions were leaving the nuclear warships unattended in the harbour. Hello Sailor had a hit with 'Gutter Black', the Rolling Stones were Exiling on Mainstreet and the Eagles had discovered the Hotel California. It was a time of inspired and impassioned writing.

Sadly we no longer do Cabaret about happenings in our own country and rely for our desires being filled by imported stories. This comment is not to belittle this production of "Assassins" or "The Threepenny Opera" which was also put on by this wonderful Silo company. It has been along time in between drinks and we were thirsty for cabaret. With a rich anticipation and high hopes we attended.
We were not disappointed and almost fully agree with the Herald's review below.

Janet McAllister completely omits any comment on the performance of Natalie Medlock. Medlock is a young actor who plays the role of Squeaky Fromme and also a sensuous and aloof Emma Goldman well. The inclusion of Anarchist Emma Goldman was a surprise to me, an elementary scholar of American history. It was great though, adding another layer to a rich American story.
My conclusion is that all these Assassins should have been institutionalized. They were all mad as snakes.

By Janet McAllister

Actor/assassin John Wilkes Booth might have killed Abraham Lincoln because he earned bad reviews but - spoiler alert! - our national leaders won't get shot because of what you're reading now.

Silo Theatre has once again put on a stylish, dark and enthralling musical - following up 2008's Threepenny Opera, they put the sass into Assassins.

The designers have paid attention to every detail so that the vaudeville atmosphere is all-encompassing even before the show proper begins.

Grant Winterburn and his first-rate band warm up as people enter the Concert Chamber, and an enormous shabby stars-and-stripes circus tent envelops the audience's cabaret tables. John Verryt's fabulous ratty tatty set boasts a fairground shooting gallery of presidential cut-outs (most of them recognisable).

The Stephen Sondheim show purports to explain three killers and six would-be killers of American presidents over 120-odd years - their motives range from high ideals to high hopes of gaining fame or sex appeal.
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The John Weidman book is slightly flawed - it harangues once or twice, and both the women, Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Fromme, are falsely portrayed as dizzy airheads who knew each other; in fact, as the programme acknowledges, Moore was "complex and dangerous".

But overall, the show is clever and funny, full of gunshots and sardonic quips: "Don't be scared - you won't prevail" goes the opening number. The "American" Dream of hard work guaranteeing success - prevalent in Godzone too - betrays many.

Directed by Oliver Driver, the ensemble are lively, well-paced and well-rehearsed; they make the technically complex show with inventive props look easy.

Mitchell Butel - playing Booth - was worth importing from Australia: he is impressively precise with a beautiful Southern drawl and snappy dance moves - all "fancy silks" and moustachio'd red lips. The old character hands also have a ball: Cameron Rhodes hams it up outrageously in his grimy Santa suit.

As the Balladeer, tall newcomer Gareth Williams channels Burt Bacharach in a white suit flashing white teeth before magically transforming into a convincing, stooped Lee Harvey Oswald. Bronwyn Bradley as Moore is an entertaining scatterbrain in a leisure suit and blue eyeshadow.

Commendably, adult tickets are $25-$55. These killings are a steal.

What: Assassins.

Where: Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.

When: Until August 14.
By Janet McAllister | Email Janet

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Geri Spieler (United States)
10:38AM Monday, 26 Jul 2010
Your review is right on target. While "Assassins" is entertaining, the facts are extremely "off target." Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Squeaky Fromme never knew each other. Moore was not a Manson woman and the two only met years later when both were incarcarated at the FCI Terminal Island, San Pedro.

Moore's actions were never revealed as at the time Betty Ford was in recovery for alcoholism and Moore actually missed Ford's head by six inches, which was also never revealed until 30 years later. Fromme never had intentions of killing Ford. She was only trying to get arrested to get closer to Charles Manson.

How do I know all this? I published a book in Jan. 2009 called, "Taking Aim At The President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford." Moore was working with an underground terrorist organization called Tribal Thumb and it was her second shot what was foiled. She got off a first shot and missed Ford's head by six inches as the sight was off of the gun she used.

Her aim was true, according to Judge Samuel Conti, who is still on the bench in San Francisco.

Save The St James

Somebody Please Reopen The St. James Theatre

Jul 26th, 2010 by Hussein Moses

The St. James Theatre which opened on July 5, 1928 is picking up more and more devotees who call themselves the St. James Saviours. 3 News ran a story on the saviours last night who are campaigning to get the theatre restored. They’re led by Bob Kerridge — who’s father Sir Robert Kerridge previously owned the theatre — and other members include Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Sam Neil and various historians and politicians.

A fire causing damage forced the theatre to shut its doors in 2007 and it hasn’t reopened since. The owners of the block, which goes from Lorne Street to Queen Street, were granted permission to build a 39-story apartment block in it’s space but the building has heritage protection which means that it can’t be knocked down; the only thing is that the owner of the building, Paul Doole, is under no obligation to restore it.

The report from 3 News says that the saviours are now in talks with Doole who may resort to building around the theatre. When asking mayor John Banks his opinion of the situation he said, “It looks like $80 million any day of the week. It looks very expensive, but not withstanding that it’s a great piece of history and one day we are going to need to confront it.” You can join the ‘Save The St. James Theatre’ Facebook group here and for those interested you can check out Radio New Zealand’s iexcellent nterview with Bob Kerridge here. [via 3 News]
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Tags: Auckland City, St. James Theatre

Gerry o Ponsonby thinks

If Mr Doole is a really smart developer, and lets face, it is a while since we have had one here, he would restore the St James.
What a show piece it could be and a draw for prospective tenants for his apartments. I for one, if my budget allows would relish living there.
As well as being a commercial success it would give Mr Doole considerable respect and enhance his reputation as a developer. This is a no mean feat in these times where developers names are mentioned almost in the same breath as child molesters. Auckland would also win from such a development and we would have a theater district perhaps as hip or classic as any where in the world and definitely a showpiece of the Pacific .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sports Muesum Proposal

This proposal was accepted by the Western Bays Community Board and has been referred to the Auckland City Council.

To Tam White, Head of Democracy Services Western Bay Community Board

Western Bays Community Board


Dear Board Members,

Subject: Campbell Free Kindergarten Building Victoria Park, Freemans Bay

Congratulations to all involved who have secured the retention of this building. I fully support your intensions to make it a public space. I would like to purpose that all endeavours should be undertaken so that the renovation is completed well before the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I suggest the first use for the building would be as a temporary gallery or museum which pays tribute to all the sporting codes of Ponsonby and Freemans Bay. These would include the Ponsonby Ponies Ruby League Club, City Newton’s Rugby League Club, Grafton United Cricket Club, The Ponsonby United Football Club (soccer), The Ponsonby Rugby Club, and also some recognition to Auckland netball teams. It is worthy of note that the first rugby league game in New Zealand was played at Victoria Park, and 2011 is the centenary of netball in New Zealand.

I have discussed this project with Graeme Osborne the Chief Executive of Tourism Auckland, who believes this would be a wonderful addition to the Rugby World Cup. Should the Western Bays Community Board accept this proposal I would be prepared to work with you to approach the various sporting codes to ascertain their interests. I would hope that perhaps they would be prepared to have some of their teams to act as guides and ambassadors during the world cup. If there is sustained interest and we have a quality product perhaps we can further extend the museum period during the summer of 2011/2012.

I would like to appear in front of the board at your next meeting to discuss this project and answer any questions.

Gerard Hill

30 Ponsonby Terrace