Another great year has almost flown by and what an interesting one it has been. Three spectacular productions that brought over 25,000 patrons into the theatre at a time when Christchurch most needed some fabulous entertainment and escapism.
In the final quarter of the year, both Michael Bayly and Markham Lee resigned from their roles as General Manager and President, heralding in some new and exciting changes ahead of us!
I’m absolutely thrilled to have stepped up into the role of President, leading Showbiz into 2020 and beyond. We have a fantastic season ahead of us in 2020, packed with beautiful and brilliantly written music, including the groovin’ in your seat kind. I’m looking forward to working with you all, onstage and off, or seeing you in the audience.
We Will Rock You
“With the stunning success of Showbiz Christchurch’s recent productions, it is no longer extraordinary to see three tiers of musical theatre fans rise to their feet in a standing ovation.”
Ruth Agnew, What’s Up Christchurch
Showbiz rocked the first part of the year with the NZ theatre company season of the Queen & Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You. The timing for this show couldn’t have been better, hot on the heels of the multi-award-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody.
Despite opening shortly after the tragic events of 15 March, and dealing with upgraded security measures at the theatre, the rock concert nature of the show drew a new audience of theatregoers who wouldn’t have otherwise come to see musical theatre. We were also able to offer First Responders from the Civil Defence, NZ Police and Medical Staff the opportunity to enjoy a night off and see the show.
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert
“Showbiz Christchurch is bringing Broadway sizzle to Christchurch on a cold weekend.”
Kate Divett, Backstage Christchurch
The mid-year concert was a roaring success due to the creativity and commitment of the creative and production team, the talent of the performers, and the enormous popularity of Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was the first time in recent years that Showbiz has worked alongside the CSO which helped increase the reputation of the concert. It is a combination we will be working with again in 2020.
“Miss Saigon is one of the iconic shows of its generation and this production goes right to the heart of it..”
Patrick Shepherd, The Press
Ten years after our premiere, the creative team breathed new life into the beautiful yet tragic story of Miss Saigon.
It’s a show not without its challenges. Miss Saigon required a strong cast of Asian performers which allowed us to cast the net wider and engage more deeply with the local and international Asian communities. We even had reviewers and patrons come from Australia specially to see the show, such is its popularity amongst the Filipino community.
Miss Saigon also provided opportunities to tell the stories of those most connected with the show including our local Vietnamese community, NZ Vietnam Vets, and Hagar NZ who are involved in supporting the victims of human trafficking.
The principal cast and heads of departments hosted a backstage Touch Tour for audience members with visual impairments. This was organised by our Marketing Manager and Blind & Low Vision NZ (formally Blind Foundation). It was a huge success, audience members came specially for it, some from as far away as Blenheim. They were able to touch pieces of costume and props, walk on the set, and meet the cast before they attended a performance.
Miss Saigon may not have been the sell-out show we hoped for, but those who attended were not disappointed. Miss Saigon raised Showbiz’s standing as a world-class producer of musical theatre.
Show Companies – Cast, Crew and Production Teams
Showbiz has over the past years built up an astounding number of skilled volunteers and theatre practitioners in all areas of our productions. I want to specially acknowledge their work, particularly the teams of volunteers – there would be no shows for you to enjoy without them! We appreciate their time, skills and knowledge. The Showbiz Board and Management team look forward to having them involved in the 2020 season and beyond.
Markham Lee, Past President
As mentioned earlier, Markham Lee resigned as Board President in October. Markham has been President on and off since 1990 but has been an active member since 1973. As President he has lead us to new heights with his drive, support and passion for theatre, putting in long hours and dedication. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Markham. I know that he will continue to be a supportive member, on and off the stage, with his family. His son, Matthew, has already appeared on stage in a Showbiz production.
Michael Bayly resigned in August as GM and moved into a new position with Cassels & Sons Brewing in September. Michael joined us in 2015 after Phantom and has worked hard to successfully raise the profile of Showbiz. His love for theatre, along with his passion and drive, saw us through some of our most successful seasons. We thank Michael, and we wish him all the best in his new role.
This brings me to the next piece of excellent news, the appointment of Paul Christ as our new General Manager. Paul has a wealth of international experience in the musical theatre industry having supervised, conducted and directed for Disney Theatrical Production, Cameron Mackintosh and Vienna State Opera. He comes to us from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra after completing his contract as Operations Manager. We are fortunate to have him leading the Management Team from 8th January 2020.
A recent article printed in the Star about these changes included this quote from Paul:
“Showbiz offers the perfect opportunity to draw on my professional musical theatre experience along with my work in the commercial and not for profit arts sectors. I am thrilled to join the Showbiz team and work alongside the Christchurch Operatic Inc. Board, to ensure the organisation continues to consistently produce shows to the highest international standards and offer opportunities for local performers, musicians and stage crew to engage in a passion for performing.
I am looking forward to not only growing the overall commercial performance and success of the organisation but building on Showbiz’s reputation as an industry leader and continuing to offer the community of Christchurch a world-class musical theatre experience.”
My Fair Lady: 3-18 April
What an exciting line up for 2020 we have for you to participate in!
Opening on 3rd April is the beautiful classic My Fair Lady, with a strong cast in place and under the direction of the dynamic team of Stephen Robertson, Richard Marrett and Glen Harris.
A magnificent set designed by Harold Moot is currently under construction. The costumes, created initially by Stephen for another production, are being refurbished at Showbiz and will undoubtedly prove to be a hit.
When My Fair Lady was first performed in Christchurch in 1962, it set the record at the Theatre Royal, running for 171 performances to an audience of 200,000.
The 60th Anniversary of My Fair Lady was celebrated in 2016 with a production directed by Julie Andrews. A Broadway revival followed in 2018 and received a Tony Awards nomination, and won three awards for “Outstanding Revival of a Musical”.
We are delighted to bring a stunning new production of this “musical of all musicals” back to Christchurch in 2020.
Chess in Concert: 19-21 June
Written by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, with lyrics by Tim Rice, Chess in Concert brings all the intrigue, drama and romance of the musical together in concert with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra for a three performance season.
In a celebration of immerging new talent, we have appointed Jeremy Hinman who will make his Showbiz directorial debut. Ravil Atlas returns in the role of Musical Director. They will be supported by the same strong production team that brought to the stage the successful 2018 and 2019 concerts.
Buddy –The Buddy Holly Story: 11-26 September
It’s only been eight years since we staged Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story in the Aurora Centre at Burnside High School shortly after the earthquakes. We always thought this show was well worth a more significant season, so we are excited to be restaging it at Isaac Theatre Royal.
This hugely successful rock musical will have the audience out of their seats and grooving in the aisles.
We welcome Sarah Brodie back as Director and have Richard Marrett leading the band as he did in the 2012 season.
This annual season of informal open mic concerts staged at the NASDA theatre continues to be well-loved by audiences for its intimate and supportive nature. It remains a popular way for Showbiz to support new talent to perform before a friendly audience, and for seasoned performers to try new material. Peter Hewson has taken over as MC from Michael Bayly, and the concerts continue to be one of the most delightful and inexpensive ways to sample a wide range of show music and new talent.
A huge thanks to NASDA for their contribution and on-going support for Way Off Broadway.
Led in 2019 by Kate Taylor, Vocal Studio continues as another vehicle for nurturing singing talent. We thank Kate for the time and music skills she brings to the classes. These are always well attended and we will be continuing them for 2020.
With our 2020 Season already underway, we also have begun exciting new plans for 2021 and beyond. The Board have been focusing on the Future Shows Programme for the next two years, and already have firm plans in place as well as concepts for the latter part of the programme. So watch this space!
As Showbiz does not receive any central government arts funding and relies heavily on ticket revenue to fund the production of our shows, we immensely value our partnership with core sponsor Saunders & Co who have agreed to continue as season sponsor for 2020.
Without the support of Saunders & Co, the ticket-buying public and funders like the Christchurch Musical Theatre Trust, Christchurch City Council and Mainland Foundation, Showbiz would not be in a position to offer world-class Broadway-style musical theatre to local audiences. We thank you wholeheartedly for your continued support.
In turn, it is essential Showbiz actively participates in supporting local musical theatre talent, and contributes to the development of a vibrant performing arts community, both locally and nationally.
In 2020 we will seek to grow our relationships with other arts-related organisations including:
- the Isaac Theatre Royal, Ticketek NZ, 4th Wall Theatre Services, The Light Site, Bounce NZ and Scenic Solutions who are cornerstone partners in delivering our 2020 season;
- NASDA and The Court Theatre, whose contribution to the NZ performing arts is unparalleled;
- Arts Access Aotearoa, so we may continue to work towards making our productions more accessible for all musical theatre-lovers.
I’ve been working in the Showbiz office most days since taking on the President’s role, and so I get to see the hard work and dedication that Wendy Riley (Marketing Manager), Sandi White (Admin Manager) and Johnny Morris (Production Manager) put into making our organisation work smoothly. Their knowledge has been a great support to me in this new role. Plus it’s also been a treat to work in an office and not standing behind a chair with scissors in hand (or a wig).
I must also acknowledge the excellent support of both Sue Beardsley and the Board. Sue has been in most days supporting me with preparing budgets and various other tasks, and the Board have been most supportive in their availability to handle the different tasks that need attention. A big thank you to everyone!
That wraps up another show-stopping year! On behalf of Showbiz Christchurch, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
President, Showbiz Christchurch