Have you ever wondered why Torbay Theatre’s shows sound so good?
A little chat with our director and a couple of the stars of next month’s Here’s a How-De-Do goes some way toward explaining it.
Director Peter Segrove has performed in and directed a wide range of plays and musicals, amateur and professional, working with Chic Littlewood, amongst others. Here’s a How-De-Do was born when Peter was asked, in the 1980s, to create a show using certain favourite Gilbert & Sullivan songs, for the Perkel Opera Company, a company which toured the North Island extensively in the 70s and 80s. He took the songs, gathered some fine performers, and staged a show to feel like a drawing-room entertainment of the 1880s, with himself as urbane host. Servants dash in and out with household mishaps; audience feel as if they are seated at one end of the family drawing room. We are privileged to have Peter directing and presenting this entertaining show. Although he has acted at Torbay Theatre before (recently as Reggie, retired opera singer, in Quartet (2020)) this is his directing debut at Torbay Theatre and, once again, he has some of New Zealand’s top singers in his cast.
The cast is entirely composed of professional musicians, most of whom are past or current members of the NZ Opera Chorus, including Dragan Atanasov, Tony Nettleton, Penny Watson, and Graham and Philippa Mandeno, who have been seen in many previous Torbay Theatre roles, as well as Jess Wells and Henrietta Reid, more Torbay Residents from the professional opera stage.
Two more of Peter’s stars this time are Christina Ellison and Campbell Ellison. Campbell has grown up singing, dancing and acting, performing with the Opera Factory and Con Amore, and, after co-starring with Christina in 3 Gilbert & Sullivans at Torbay, had the good sense to marry her. Christina, between Torbay Theatre commitments, has completed a first-class Honours degree in performance singing, and now spends much of her time winning or being placed in major national aria competitions. She has recently won the Becroft Aria, Te Awamutu Aria, Ronald Dellow Memorial and People’s Choice. She was a finalist at Wellington, Dunedin and New Zealand Aria in Rotorua, and won best overall performer in Wellington, and Judge’s choice in Dunedin. Campbell, Christina and friend Wilson Wang (also in Here’s a How-De-Do), performing as Con Amore,won the trio competition at Te Awamutu, too.
While Christina was on stage winning one of her many awards, Kiri Te Kanawa was spotted backstage holding Christina and Campbell’s baby Daniel. This February, she was to have starred as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Festival Opera, in Napier as Cyclone Gabrielle put an end to that.
And of course, closer to home, Christina and Campbell can be seen and heard on our stage at the intimate Gate Theatre, the small theatre attached to Torbay Community Hall, bringing more of the best of Gilbert & Sullivan to you in Peter Segrove’s Here’s a How-de-do.
Here’s a How-De-Do Dates:
27 April – 7 May
(Thursday to Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)