Reviews: An Evening of Rodgers & Hammerstein Classics

Audience wowed by an Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics
By What’s Up Reviewer Jenny Sew Hoy Agnew

One of the advantages a local production has over an international touring show is the partisan audience of family and friends of the performers.

Showbiz’s audience for An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics was no different.

Richard Rodgers’ familiar music, coupled with Oscar Hammerstein’s witty lyrics, was presented delightfully and wowed the crowd.

All around me I could hear snatches of words or humming of the tunes.

My companion had to nudge me at times to shut me up!

These songs were definitely the best from the Golden Age of musical theatre.

The addition of the entire NASDA student body gave a youthful aspect to the established Showbiz chorus and swelled the numbers to 120.

To be able to provide solo spots to individuals from this chorus is a wonderful example of the talent we were so lucky to hear.

Jane Leonard showed again both her acting and her singing abilities, especially in “Mr Snow” from Carousel. Nigel Withington wrung good advice from “Climb every mountain”, usually Mother Abbess’s solo in The Sound of Music.

Nick Hollamby joined Jane Leonard to exhort each other not to show their partiality, worrying that “People will say we’re in love”, from Oklahoma!

Not every song was rip-roaring and pacey like the finale. The tragic “We kiss in a shadow” from The King and I, was a truly moving duet by Celine Rosa Tan and Nigel Withington.

It was a pleasure to be able to hear the words of the lyrics.

The soloists’ clear diction enabled us to appreciate the stories told by the songs.

The always splendid Richard Marrett energetically conducted the 30 piece Broadway-style orchestra.

The CSO was acknowledged for its fine contribution to the evening.

The percussionists always seemed on the move.

How fortunate Christchurch is to have musicians of such calibre!

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Star Review: Classic songs come to life onstage
By reporter

So many performances these days seem to be getting bigger, flashier, more colourful, more dramatic, more incredible.

If that’s what your after, The Showbiz Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics would not be for you.

Yet there is something magical about going back to the simplicity of music.

And this was music beautifully presented and flawlessly performed, with a full orchestra, incredible soloists and a chorus of 120 voices.

It was an old fashioned style performance – the full orchestra dominated the stage, conductor front and centre in immaculately shined shoes. The chorus stood in rows, 120 white faces, while the soloists came and went in suit jackets and fairytale gowns.

The soloists were incredible, each bringing strong voices and powerful performances.

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Backstage: Review – An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein
By Kate Divett

“As hokey pokey is to icecream, the performance is a smorgasbord of hits from the Golden Age of musical theatre – the best songs from the great musicals that paved the way for the shows of today. The affect of this is much like eating all the hokey-pokey bits in one go – everything is the best, which is definitely a guilty pleasure and perhaps a little overwhelming.”

“Richard Marrett’s assembly of a 120-strong chorus provided the grunt and depth of sound that is often not possible in smaller stage productions, which was a delight whenever their curtain was lifted. Highlights included a rollicking and intricately arranged Do-Re-Mi, and the men sounded magnificent in There is Nothing Like a Dame. It was marvellous to have the orchestra join the vocal performers on stage, which allowed us to collectively appreciate their work and talent during instrumental interludes.”

“All in all, An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics is everything it should be – a retrospective savouring of musically and lyrically decadent show-tunes, brought back to life in a way that ends up being both sickly-sweet and yet delightfully indulgent. A guilty pleasure indeed.”

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First Concert in 79 Years set to open at the Isaac Theatre Royal

First Showbiz concert in 79 years at a major theatre

Showbiz Christchurch is staging their first traditional concert in a major theatre in 79 years. Since its establishment in 1938 (under the name Christchurch Operatic Inc), Showbiz has entertained over two million audience members with major musicals. From 26-28 May Showbiz will present a grand concert ‘An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics’ at the Isaac Theatre Royal in conjunction with the renowned National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA).

Musical Director Richard Marrett will conduct An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics

Musical Director Richard Marrett will conduct An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics

With a chorus of 120 singers, 14 soloists and a Broadway style orchestra – all under the musical direction of Richard Marrett – the concert will feature some of the best loved works of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II from the Golden Age of Musical Theatre, including: ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Younger Than Springtime’, ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ and ‘I have Dreamed’.

Marrett will conduct a 30 strong Broadway style orchestra made up of the city’s leading professional musicians.

Jane Leonard

Jane Leonard

The concert is proving a popular choice with young and old, and many of the chorus and soloists have fond memories of enjoying Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals with their parents or grandparents. “My mum used to sing ‘Climb Every Mountain’ to me as a lullaby when I was a little,” says 24 year old soloist soprano and chorus member Jane Leonard (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera). “I remember putting our video of The Sound of Music on at any chance I could get, and singing and dancing along.”

Soloists Michael Bayly and Donna Alley will open the concert vocally with the aptly named “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” from State Fair. Bayly and Alley are not just singing partners on-stage, but are also partners off-stage after meeting through a shared love of musical theatre. Bayly trained in opera and performed the title role in the Showbiz 2010 production of Sweeney Todd before taking up the role of General Manager with the company. Alley performed the coveted role of Carlotta in the 2015 Showbiz season of The Phantom of the Opera.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland trained singer Celine Rosa Tan comes to the concert with a wealth of performance experience in international musicals and television roles. She will make her Showbiz debut as part of the chorus and in a duet with Nigel Withington with a number from The King and I.

Featured Soloists for An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics

Meet the Rodgers & Hammerstein Concert Featured Soloists

Other soloists include Mezzo Sopranos Amy Bowie, Greta Casey-Solly, Dearna Doglione and Kira Josephson; Sopranos Jane Leonard and Charlotte Taylor; Baritones Nick Hollamby and Terry McCartan;  and Tenors Jack Fraser, Nigel Withington and  Blair McHugh – all who also lend their voices to the 120 strong chorus.

The orchestra will feature alongside the singers, bringing the total number of performers onstage to 150. “This promises to be a masterpiece of musical theatre in concert, on a grand scale,” says Showbiz President Markham Lee.

An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics will be performed at the Isaac Theatre Royal from 26-28 May 2017.

Tickets: or 0800 842 538