Posts Tagged ‘Isaac Theatre Royal’

It’s a long time since I’ve won anything.  That may be because I rarely enter a competition.  I’m especially wary of online ones, and the prizes often don’t interest me.  Last week I succumbed to the temptation to enter a competition on Facebook.  The prize was two free tickets to a variety show at the Isaac Theatre Royal, and all I had to do was put the name of the person I’d take with me in a comment.

To my surprise I won, and I duly took Stephen to The First Bite, a Festival Gala that introduced many of the acts featured in Bread and Circus, this year’s World Buskers’ Festival, which is a kind of fringe theatre.  The comperes were the Daredevil Chicken Club who were good, although the stunts with bananas were not to my taste.  I’ve never liked the taste of bananas!

There were two contortionists, Sara Twister from Germany, and Penelope from Limbo.  Both were literally breathtaking, especially Sara’s act with a bow and arrow.  Pedro from Portugal juggled cleverly with a broom, as did a group with olives and a martini (I think they must have been Biggest Little Circus).  I liked Bayley Graham the local tap dancer.  Why do we see so little of this form of dance?  We both thoroughly enjoyed Cocoloco from the U.K. with their clever Alice act.  Other acts were The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue (U.K.), Hero-San (Japan), Piff the Magic Dragon (USA), and Le Gateau Chocolat (U.K.).

The show gave some excellent tastes of what can be seen throughout the festival.  It’s a shame that heavy rain today means outside events have been cancelled, but those in covered venues will continue, and the forecast is better for tomorrow.

‘This was an appetising spread
of circus interlaced with bread.

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This rather fearsome mural is on the west wall of the Isaac Theatre royal, behind the Dance-O-Mat.  It’s signed Berst.  I think this must be Bobby ‘Berst’ Hung, who is a tutor at Unitec.  It’s colourful, but perhaps a little scary.

‘These purple monsters on the wall
could possibly make your skin crawl.’

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I was moved and inspired by the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in Aotearoa at the Isaac Theatre Royal this afternoon.  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the Keynote Speaker and 40% of the audience were young women from local schools.  After a karakia by Aroha Rereti-Crofts, the introduction by Joanna Norris brought much cheering and clapping which continued throughout the event.  Bel Canto from Burnside High School sang two items, then Mayor Lianne Dalziel spoke with an injunction for us all to be proud of our city and its history.

Bel Canto on stage, Jacinda at left

Jacinda welcomed everyone, especially the babies in the room, and observed that on this day in 1933 Elizabeth McCombs won a by-election in Lyttelton and became our first female member of Parliament.  Ordinary women who have done extraordinary things were honoured.  Jacinda told the stories of two who had signed the suffrage petition.  The first was Christina Henderson who taught at Christchurch Girls’ High School.  The second was Catherine Wiltshire who in 1876 was hailed as the ‘Greatest Female Pedestrienne in the World’.  Catherine was Jacinda’s great-great-grandmother.

Nineteen young women then came on stage to ask questions of the Prime Minister, and these are some of her responses:

Q  What lessons have you learned from the Suffrage movement?
A  Never give up

Q  Has gender affected the way you’ve been treated?
A  The path was laid by women before me.  Occasionally I note an interesting form of language, but I don’t let it distract me.

Q  Why was New Zealand the first to give women the vote?
A  We’re inclined to say ‘why not?’.  (For a long time our most popular TV programme was Fair Go.)

Q  What are the most pressing matters facing women today?
A  Low-paid work, pay equity, domestic violence.

Jacinda said her hope for women is that they will have financial security and constant confidence.  We can do it differently and do it on our own terms, and we need to choose hope over blame and fear.  Asked if we need the feminism label, she said “Yes!” and that if you believe in equality and fairness you are a feminist.  She expects the next big change in New Zealand to be pay equity which needs to be prioritised.  ‘You’ll always have a seed of doubt but you can do anything in spite of it.’

In closing Megan Woods gave Jacinta a copy of The Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy.  Jacinda stood to take a selfie with the audience, and after a karakia we all left.

‘Our P.M. tells it like it is
she absolutely is a whizz.’



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“Mamma Mia” was a tremendous treat.  Singing, dancing, costumes – full of energy, and sheer delight all the way through.  A highlight was the dancing divers, complete with snorkels and flippers!  So many excellently-portrayed characters.  The “Waterloo” finale was a wonderful Abba tribute – hard to believe it’s 42 years since the original won the Eurovision Songquest.

No photos allowed during the performance, but here’s the tree on that Greek Island.

Mamma Mia Tree (Small)

“We loved this energetic show
cram-packed with lots of songs we know.”




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Yesterday we walked to a performance in the Isaac Theatre Royal.  That statement may seem trivial, but it has a huge amount of emotion in it, because it was the first time we’ve done this since the earthquakes.  It was such a pleasure to be able to head out along the Avon, then to see the theatre ahead of us with Owen Dippie’s giant ballerina mural.  We chose to go to the 4pm show, and New Regent Street was buzzing as we walked along.

The theatre is the first heritage building I’ve been in, that’s been fully restored after the earthquakes, and it looked superb.  We are lucky in New Zealand that many towns have these wonderful old theatres, and doubly lucky in Christchurch to have this one restored to us.

Inside the Isaac Theatre Royal

Inside the Isaac Theatre Royal

Ceiling dome

Ceiling dome

Gilded detail

Gilded detail

The muscial “Buddy” was sheer fun, a reminder of a different era, and of how American music dominated before the British ‘invasion’.  There were times when the accompanying music overwhelmed the singing, but that didn’t matter as I knew all the words.  I’d seen the show before, in 2007 in London’s West End, and I enjoyed this just as much.  I did think they could have emphasised the plane crash a little more, but we all know the story anyway.

Afterwards we crossed the road and had a meal at Sampan House, which was doing a roaring trade.  They must be thrilled to have the theatre open again.

We walked home along the river, delighted to know that such entertainment is once more available in the central city.  We’ve booked for “Phantom” next month too.

“The central city will come back
and we’ll regain those things we lack.”



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