Harperde­lights in soloshow

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

Ten years af­ter tak­ing to the stage in one-woman show Bomb­shells, Ali Harper is back to de­light Manawatu au­di­ences in The Court Theatre’s pro­duc­tion of Joanna Mur­raySmith’s Songs for No­bod­ies.

Harper will take au­di­ences on a jour­ney to meet five ev­ery­day work­ing women whose lives were changed by a chance en­counter with a star. Each of these five women’s sto­ries are in­ter­spersed with songs that made Judy Gar­land, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Bil­lie Hol­l­i­day and Maria Cal­las world­wide mu­si­cal icons.

Join­ing Harper in bring­ing this show to New Zealand au­di­ences is The Court Theatre’s Artis­tic Di­rec­tor, Ross Gum­b­ley, who also di­rected Bomb­shells, and Mu­si­cal Di­rec­tor Richard Mar­rett.

‘‘Ali and I have been look­ing for a ve­hi­cle to work on to­gether since we did Bomb­shells, back in 2007. Songs

For No­bod­ies re­quires a Her­culean ef­fort from one in­cred­i­bly tal­ented per­former who needs to have the mu­si­cal chops to be able to sing the songs of these five di­vas, and that’s an in­cred­i­ble tech­ni­cal feat, but it’s also an in­cred­i­ble plat­form to show­case Ali’s in­cred­i­ble skills and strengths,’’ Gum­b­ley says.

As Ali per­formed Bomb­shells ex­ten­sively across the globe, and won the Best Ac­tress award at the United Solo Fes­ti­val in New York, fol­low­ing Bette Mi­dler’s win the year be­fore, she has de­vel­oped a close re­la­tion­ship with Mur­ray-Smith. Due to Mur­ray-Smith’s ex­plicit trust in Ali as a per­former, she agreed to grant the ex­clu­sive New Zealand rights to The Court Theatre, on the con­di­tion that it would be Ali per­form­ing the show.

‘‘In my 25 year ca­reer, there have been a hand­ful of scripts that have come my way and have felt like a gift. Songs For No­bod­ies is one of those gifts. One woman plays are noth­ing new to me but this par­tic­u­lar one is go­ing to stretch and chal­lenge me in new ar­eas, which is both in­vig­o­rat­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing,’’ Harper says. In de­vel­op­ing her per­for­mance for

Songs For No­bod­ies, Harper has the unique chal­lenge of hav­ing to mas­ter 10 dif­fer­ent ac­cents, 10 com­plex char­ac­ters and five dif­fer­ent singing styles.

‘‘It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing piece of drama to work on,’’ Gum­b­ley says. ‘‘The script has a greater level of ma­tu­rity and com­plex­ity than Bomb­shells. The ma­tu­rity comes through as the women in the play go to a deeper level, cel­e­brate the hu­man con­di­tion and con­sider what it re­ally means to be ‘liv­ing the dream’.’’

Light­ing de­signer Sean Hawkins will utilise the sim­plic­ity of Richard Van Den Berg’s set, which has al­lowed his de­signs to be­come a cen­tral part of the show. Sound de­signer Giles Tan­ner will work along­side Mar­rett and Gum­b­ley to de­velop the com­plex­i­ties of the sound, trans­port­ing au­di­ences into the world of each of the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters.

Songs for No­bod­ies opens at Cen­tre­point on Au­gust 19 and runs un­til Septem­ber 9 at 6.30pm (Wed/ Thurs), 8pm (Fri/Sat) 5pm (Sun­day). Tick­ets $16-$40. Book­ings 06 354 5740 or cen­tre­point.co.nz.

Ali Harper back to de­light Manawatu with­One-Wo­manRe­vue

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