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ATC theatre season includes musical about Rupert Murdoch

Auckland Theatre Company's programme for next year includes revivals of classic works, a Rupert Murdoch play and more. 

John Daly-Peoples
Sat, 06 Dec 2014

Auckland Theatre Company 2015 Season

Auckland Theatre Company’s programme for next year includes revivals of classic works, a new Australian play about, Rupert Murdoch and a new adaptation of an Ibsen classic by Emily Perkins.

The season starts with the comedy The Ladykillers, by Irish playwright Graham Linehan, which is set in the sweet old Mrs Wilberforce's lopsided house  from which a gang masterminds a daring bank heist. Nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best Play, Graham Linehan's razor-sharp adaptation of the classic 1955 Ealing comedy won rave reviews when it first opened on the West End. Directed by Colin McColl, the cast includes Annie Whittle, Carl Bland, Andrew Grainger, Byron Coll, Peter Hayden and Paul Minifie.

New Zealand novelist Emily Perkins makes her first foray into theatre writing with a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. This timeless play about the collapse of a family tells of Nora and Torvald, who appears to have a perfect marriage. But as they prepare to celebrate their first Christmas in their new home, events from the past destroy Nora's domestic bliss in a tale of personal revolution versus the stultifying effects of domesticity. British playwright Shelagh Stephenson (one of the writers for Downton Abbey) has written Enlightenment, which will star Robyn Malcolm and Stephen Lovatt in this suspenseful work, a metaphysical mystery thriller about loss, liberal sensibility and the centripetal forces that tear apart kith and kin.

Five months since the disappearance of their backpacker son, all Lia and Nick can cling to is a vague email mentioning Jakarta and the possibility that he may be alive somewhere. Unsure who to turn to, or even whether he's alive, they frantically seek clues, comfort and strength. Then, out of the blue, the lost young man seemingly materialises at Heathrow airport. But is he the real thing?

In the middle of the year ATC will be presenting the Globe to Globe touring production of Hamlet, which features Shakespearian actor New Zealander Rawiri Paratene. Directed by Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, the Hamlet Globe to Globe tour opened at the Globe earlier this year celebrating the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. The show is currently touring South America before coming to Australia and New Zealand. The play will also be presented in Wellington by the  New Zealand International Festival.

ATC will introduce a new programme-within-a-programme called the Sex and Power Winter Season at the Q Theatre. In the first “Rupert” Stuart Devenie will become the most powerful media magnate in modern history. This new work by Australian David Williamson takes a cabaret-style romp down memory lane in a staged managed version of Rupert Murdoch's life.

The ABC’s critic Alison Coggon said “There are moments which approach a marvelous grotesquerie – the Packer family, with strap-on beer bellies, plotting to destroy Murdoch’s interests in Sydney, for instance – but mostly the production settles for fast-moving cartoons, with a liberal use of masks and wigs. [The cast] play a dizzying variety of roles. This infuses a saving manic energy into everything...” Jennifer Ward-Lealand will join Devenie in the large cast, and Colin McColl will direct the play that was a smash hit at the box office when it premiered in Melbourne Theatre Company's 2013 season.

The second part of ATC's Sex and Power Winter Season will be Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

Michael Hurst has reimagined this classic Greek comedy (for the second time) in which the women of Athens and Sparta (including Amanda Billing and Jennifer Ward Lealand) refuse to have sex with their husbands and partners to convince their menfolk to end the Peloponnesian War. Three of New Zealand's seasoned actors, George Henare, Ray Henwood and Ken Blackburn will star in “Heroes,” an adaptation of the 2003 play Le vent des peupliers by the French playwright Gérald Sibleyras, translated by Tom Stoppard. On the terrace of an old soldiers' home, three World War I veterans wile away the day gossiping about the nurses, reminiscing and exasperating one another with hare-brained schemes.

Gustave suffers from a crippling agoraphobia. Henri is afflicted by a gammy leg. And Philippe periodically passes out because of a piece of shrapnel lodged in his brain. Their querulous and cantankerous camaraderie is tested when Gustave conceives an improbable escape plan that will take them to a distant poplar-lined hill and, perhaps, freedom.

In October, My Own Darling by Grace Taylor will open at the Mangere Arts Centre.  It is a work in which the playwright brings her heart and soul to the stage inviting audiences to join her on an intimate journey through the social landscape of Auckland Taylor who made her directorial debut last year with the moving and unflinching Skin is a leading light in the Rising Voices spoken word poetry movement and a recipient of the 2014 Creative New Zealand Emerging Pasifika Artist Award For young people, The Lolly Witch Of Mumuland will have its world premiere in April (Mangere Arts Centre ) and July (Selwyn College Theatre). A 21st century Hansel and Gretel couple of kids, hungry for food and adventure go on a journey to save their family from the breadline and end up in the clutches of a very wicked, Zumba-dancing witch!

The pre-Christmas ATC show will be the great Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. Nathan Detroit needs a home for his permanent floating craps game. To raise cash, he bets professional high-roller Sky Masterson that he can't date the doll  Sarah Brown. But when Sky and Sarah fall for each other, the stakes are raised.

Meanwhile, Nathan is doing his best to stay out of the matrimonial clutches of his long-suffering fiancée of 14 years, Miss Adelaide. Based on Damon Runyon's iconic tales of New York's underworld of gangster and gamblers, missionary dolls and showgirls, Guys and Dolls boasts one of the great musical scores of American theatre, including the immortal classics Luck Be a Lady Tonight and Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat. Raymond Hawthorne will direct a large cast that includes Shane Cortese and Roy Snow.

John Daly-Peoples
Sat, 06 Dec 2014
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ATC theatre season includes musical about Rupert Murdoch