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Roger Hall’s 'Who Wants to be 100?'

PRESS RELEASE
The SOVEREIGN Season of

Roger Hall’s
WHO WANTS TO BE 100 ?
anyone who’s 99


Directed by Ross Jolly

Starring KEN BLACKBURN, GEORGE HENARE, RAY HENWOOD,
PETER HAMBLETON, JUDE GIBSON, JANE WADDELL

Circa Theatre and the 2008 International Festival of the Arts, are delighted to present Roger Hall’s latest hit comedy - WHO WANTS TO BE 100? (ANYONE WHO’S 99) which opens in CIRCA ONE on Saturday 23rd February at 8pm.

Roger Hall is, without doubt, the most popular playwright for audiences throughout the country.
In this heartfelt new comedy he turns his sharp satirical pen on everyone’s secret dread – the old folks’ home.

Be nice to your children, they choose your rest home!!

Welcome to the Regina Rest Home where the old boys’ network is alive and kicking with a retired Q.C., an ex-All Black, a former university professor and a famous potter among the residents.

Restless, irrepressible and determined to enjoy their twilight years they declare war on illness, old age, guilty wives, greedy off-spring and the quality of the catering!

With his celebrated gift of having his finger on the pulse of the lives of ordinary New Zealanders, Hall has, over the past 30 years, taken us on an hilarious roller-coaster ride with snapshots of our journey from the civil service, to mid-life crises, to mature students, suburban share clubs and book clubs, to overseas travel and retirement. It is fitting that Roger’s newest comedy faces ‘the next step’ as he exposes our hopes and fears, joys and sorrows - and makes us laugh!

“Was it because he came originally from another culture, that Roger was able to so sharply critique and capture the foibles of ours?” asks director Ross Jolly, who has been involved as an actor and director with Hall’s work now for over 30 years (since the seminal Glide Time in 1976). “Roger has demonstrated an uncanny ability to mine comedy gold from unlikely topics. His social comedies have made him a household name (a trivial pursuit question) and a trusted brand. A “Roger Hall” to audiences, means a funny, satirical, entertaining, damn good night in the theatre.
“And Who Wants To Be 100? is all of the above. All the familiar ‘Hallmarks’ are on display as we meet the middle class codgers and the underclass who attend them. Our social status quo is brilliantly captured and chronicled.
“So, is this Roger Hall’s funniest, darkest comedy? All I can say is that it has been the fastest selling play in New Zealand theatrical history!”

For this season of Who Wants to be 100? Ross Jolly has assembled a stunning cast of actors with an unsurpassed history of playing ‘Roger Hall’:-

Ken Blackburn, Ray Henwood and George Henare have all experienced the delighted audience responses from the sell-out seasons in Auckland or Christchurch.
“This is the most serious funny play I have ever been in” says Ray. And George is relishing his foray into the life of an Alzheimer patient - “Ahh – second childhood – no memory, no cares, no responsibility, no inhibitions. Bring it on!!” he says. Ken quite simply considers Who Wants to be 100? the best play Roger has written so far.

Peter Hambleton gets to experience the tribulations of old age a little earlier than most. “I’ve now had the great privilege of playing characters of all ages in Roger Hall’s plays,” he says. “Baby P in Who Needs Sleep Anyway?; Colin in Middle Age Spread; and now an elderly man in Who Wants to be 100?”.

Jane Waddell and Jude Gibson were both last seen at Circa in a very different ‘Hall’ experience - the pantomime, Jack & the Beanstalk!
“I have been performing in Roger Hall's plays since the late 1970's,” says Jude. They have included the original Cinderella, By Degrees, Social Climbers, Middle Age Spread, Cinderella - revamped, Jack and the Beanstalk, and now Who Wants to be 100?. Whether it's pure entertainment, comedy or drama Roger always seems to have his finger on the pulse of the day. I am continually amazed by his ability to ensnare unpalatable portions of NZ life and serve them up as an appetizing dish for an audience.”
For Jane - “Having breathed life into many of Roger’s women (Middle Age Spread, By Degrees, Take a Chance on Me, The Book Club, Spreading Out) I’m relishing the challenge of creating three characters in Who Wants to be 100? Two wives and a daughter provide a textured insight into the impact of declining health on immediate family with truth, humour and compassion.”

So - Stand by for geriatric hi-jinks as Hall teaches some old dogs a few new tricks.

With its endearing, quintessentially Kiwi characters, wry humour, astute observations and legendary one-liners, Who Wants to be 100? is vintage Roger Hall.

“One of Hall’s best … Old age may be no joke, but this play sure is funny” - Press


WHO WANTS TO BE 100 ?
23rd FEBRUARY – 3rd MAY

$20 PREVIEW Friday 22nd February – 8pm (Bookings: CIRCA Theatre 801 7992)

Performance times: Tues & Wed - 6.30pm; Thurs, Fri and Sat - 8pm; Sun - 4pm.

BOOKINGS:
23 February – 16 March 17 March – 3 May

TICKETEK
0800 842 538
www.ticketek.co.nz

CIRCA Theatre,
1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
Phone 801 7992
www.circa.co.nz


Proud sponsor
Sovereign


Who wants to be 100? is presented in association with Playmarket


--


ROGER HALL
Playwright

Roger Hall was born in England in 1939 and emigrated to NZ in 1958.
Hall’s earliest scripts were for television, but in 1976 he wrote his first stage play Glide Time (opened at Circa Theatre) which helped establish him as New Zealand’s best known and most commercially successful playwright. Many successful play productions followed including Middle Age Spread, By Degrees, Market Forces, C’Mon Black, Dirty Weekends, Social Climbers, The Book Club, You’ve Gotta Be Joking!, A Way of Life, Take a Chance on Me, Spreading Out, Taking Off, Who Wants to be 100? and Who Needs Sleep Anyway? together with musicals, pantomimes – Cinderella, Aladdin, radio dramas, books and plays for children and comedy series for television, most notably, Gliding On and Market Forces, and for UK television, Conjugal Rites.
His plays have been performed in nine other countries, the most successful being Middle Age Spread which ran in London’s West End for 15 months and won the award for Comedy of the Year.
Roger Hall was awarded a QSO and the Turnovsky Prize in 1987, a Commemoration Medal 1990, the 1996 Katherine Mansfield Fellowship for study in Menton, an Hon Doctorate of Literature from Victoria University, 1996, and in 2003 he was made a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit (CNZM).

ROSS JOLLY
Director

Founding member of Circa Theatre, Circa councillor, actor and freelance theatre and television director, Ross has directed many productions for Circa over the past years including the original production of Master Class in 1986, and Moonlight, F.I.L.T.H., Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Travels with my Aunt, the record-breaking smash hit Social Climbers, the award-winning Taking Sides (Best Circa Production 1997), the acclaimed production of Heretic for the 1998 NZ International Festival of the Arts, and most recently, The Cripple of Inishmaan, How I Learned to Drive, Waiting for Godot, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, the sell-out success ART (and its return season), The Unexpected Man, The Memory of Water, The Weir, Madame Melville, the NZ Festival 2002 success Copenhagen, Life x 3, The Birthday Party, Conversations after a Burial, Ancient Lights, Humble Boy, the sell-out hit of the 2004 Festival of the Arts, Roger Hall’s Spreading Out, Stones in his Pockets, Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things which was nominated for Best Director and Best Production at the Chapman Tripp awards 2004, An Inspector Calls, The Mercy Seat and Democracy. In 2006 Ross directed the NZ premiere of Ross Gumbley’s Happy Coupling for the Court Theatre, and The Underpants, Wild East and a revival of Master Class for Circa. 2007 started with Ross re-directing Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things for the Court Theatre, followed by the sell-out season of Heroes in Circa Two before returning to the world of LaBute for Fat Pig, and ending the year with Rattigan’s modern classic, The Winslow Boy.
Ross won Director of the Year for his production of Waiting for Godot, at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 1999.


KEN BLACKBURN
Charles Benson

Born in Bristol, England and educated both there and in New Zealand, Ken has been a freelance actor for over 40 years working extensively in film, television, radio and theatre in Australia, NZ and the UK. He has also written a book, “Blitz Kids”, which was selected by the BBC for publication to celebrate the 50th anniversary of VE Day in Britain in 1995.
Ken also has considerable experience as a theatre director and has been Associate Director of both Downstage and Mercury Theatres.
Ken returned to the Wellington stage, after a twelve-year absence, in Travels with my Aunt at Circa in 1987. Since then he has toured with the NZ Symphony Orchestra as narrator for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed in his self-devised show An Evening with Dickens (with Perry Piercy), and appeared at Circa in many shows including The Sisterhood, as Wilhelm Furtwängler in Taking Sides (Best Circa Production 1997 at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards), as Old Derek Freeman in Circa’s Festival hit show Heretic, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, and Frank in Amy’s View (a role he repeated in the Auckland Theatre Co production), Life X 3, The Weir, The Lady in the Van, Noises Off, The Face Maker, Humble Boy, A Passionate Woman, The Love of Human Kind, Milo’s Wake, The Cherry Orchard, Bright Star, Democracy , Death of a Salesman, and, most recently Heroes (Circa 2) and Who Wants to be 100? for Court Theatre, where he played the part of Alan.
Ken has also directed She Stoops to Conquer, Wind in the Willows, The Country Wife and The Rivals for Circa.
Ken’s screen credits include White Fang, Sir Bruce Warner in Shortland St, Dr Kamins in The Frighteners, Bad Blood, Absent without Leave, Skin Deep, Gliding On plus a wide range of Australian television productions.
Ken won Best Actor at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 1999 for his role as Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, and received the MNZM in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2005.

JUDE GIBSON
Elaine / Sharon / Debbie / Gloria

Jude is well-known for her work as an actor and director throughout New Zealand, and has also been a recipient of a Shakespeare Globe Centre International Artistic Fellowship which had her travelling to London to study at the Globe.
Jude has recently performed the roles of Betsy the cow / Goosey the goose in Roger Hall’s pantomime Jack & the Beanstalk, Grace Winslow in The Winslow Boy and 15 roles in Monarchy, the Musical and before that was last seen at Circa as Mercy Lott in the Humble Boy. Some of her recent theatre credits include Elizabeth in Middle Age Spread, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Under Milk Wood (Downstage) The Clean House, Cinderella and Paradise Package (Fortune Theatre, Dunedin) and directing The Vagina Monologues (Centrepoint) and Boston Marriage (Downstage). She has also combined with Geraldine Brophy to mount productions of Confessions of a Chocaholic and Real Estate around the country and in Wellington, and has worked as Acting Tutor at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.
Television and film credits include Shortland Street, The Chosen (a mini-series), a Garth Maxwell film, When Love Comes, and The Strip.


PETER HAMBLETON
Leo Maddox

Peter has made numerous appearances at Circa including A Doll’s House, I Hate Hamlet, Angels in America, Twelfth Night, Moonlight, Travels with my Aunt, The Herbal Bed, The Cripple of Inishmaan, The John Wayne Principle, Design for Living, Travesties, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Seagull, The Memory of Water, Lady in the Van, Copenhagen, Take a Chance on Me, An Enemy of the People, Ancient Lights, Humble Boy, Spreading Out, The Bach and Bright Star, Democracy, Dr Buller’s Birds, Master Class and Home Land.
Other recent stage work includes Sylvia, Much Ado about Nothing, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Middle Age Spread, Richard III, Black Comedy, The Goat, Flagons and Foxtrots, Othello, The Graduate, and Who Needs Sleep Anyway? (all at Downstage).
A recipient of a Shakespeare Globe Centre International Artistic Fellowship (with Judith Gibson) in 2002, Peter also won Best Actor at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for his performance as Heisenberg in Copenhagen, and a performance accolade for An Enemy of the People.
As a director Peter’s work includes Marathon, Pericles and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

GEORGE HENARE
Alan Webster

A theatrical career spanning 40 years began in 1965 with the then NZ Opera Company’s Porgy & Bess. Along with other NZ Opera productions were performances with the original Downstage, the NZ Maori Theatre Trust and the NZ Quartet.
In 1971 George moved to Auckland’s Mercury Theatre as one of its lead actors for the next 20 years playing everything from King Lear, Sweeney Todd, Salieri, and Horner to Toad, Scarecrow and Cinderella’s ugly sister, to name but a smidgen. Interspersed with these were stints with Stetson Productions, Night & Day, Extremities, Pirates of Penzance etc, plus numerous radio plays and TV series.
The nineties saw a move to Australia, where George worked with the Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre and B.Company Belvoir in Sydney.
George’s TV productions have included Xena, Hercules, Ocean Girl IV, Street Legal, Shortland Street; and films – Once were Warriors, Rapanui, the Silent One, Johnny Lingo.
In 1980 George received an OBE for Services to Theatre, 2000 Best TV Actor, 2001 Narrator of the Year, for the second time, for Talking Books for the Blind, and in 2006 he was named Actor of the Year at The Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for his role as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman at Circa.
George’s other Wellington productions include Urinetown, I’m Not Rappaport (1987 & 2007), Othello, Purupuruwhetu, Dracula (Downstage) Heroes, Death of a Salesman, This Train I’m On (Circa) Haruru Mai (Taki Rua), and Evita.
George has also starred in many productions with Christchurch’s Court Theatre including Professor Higgins, Christian Brothers, Frank’n’furter and Fagin in Oliver, and has a long list of stage credits in his home town of Auckland, where he was last seen as Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Alan in Who Wants to be 100? (ATC).


RAY HENWOOD
Edwin Davis

A founding member of the Circa Council, Ray’s performances at Circa include Spreading Out, Conversations After a Burial, The Birthday Party, Copenhagen, Playing Burton, The Unexpected Man, A Delicate Balance, Rutherford, Travesties, Waiting for Godot, Honour, Simply Disconnected, Skylight, Market Forces, F.I.L.T.H., Moonlight, The Master Builder, Angels in America, I Hate Hamlet, No Man’s Land and Time of my Life. Other performances include Otherwise Engaged, Othello, Uncle Vanya, Hedda Gabler, Much Ado About Nothing (Downstage), Honour (ATC), NoGood Boyo (NZ & Australia) and Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera (Japan). Television includes Shortland Street, Market Forces, William Tell, Enid Blyton, Gliding On, Atlantis High and Film: Heavenly Creatures, The End of the Golden Weather, and Lord of the Rings.
Ray won Best Actor at the Chapman Tripp Awards 2001, for his role in Playing Burton, which has since toured to several NZ cities including Christchurch and Auckland and also to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
2005 again saw Ray touring NZ, this time in the one-man show The Carer.
Ray’s most recent stage performances were as Willy Brandt in Democracy (Circa), Under Milk Wood (Downstage), Stalin in Master Class (Circa), Heroes (Circa), Who Wants to be 100? And The Crucible (ATC) and I’m Not Rappaport (Downstage).
Ray also received an ONZM in the 2006 honour’s list.

JANE WADDELL
Sarah / Audrey / Mary

Jane is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and has been based in Wellington for most of her theatrical career, where she is known as both an actor and director.
Jane has appeared in numerous productions at Circa including Joyful & Triumphant, Julius Caesar, Serial Killers, The Country Wife, Take a Chance on Me, Spreading Out, Taking Off, Death of a Salesman and most recently Wild East. Jane has also toured the country extensively with the one-woman play The Book Club by Roger Hall. Other recent roles include Jack & the Beanstalk (Circa), Who Needs Sleep Anyway?, Wednesday to Come (Downstage), Weighing In (Centrepoint) and Andrea in Bright Star at Circa, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.
While tutoring at Toi Whakaari Jane directed several student productions, and she has a long list of children’s production, both stage and TV to her name. Other stage productions include Wolf Lullaby, LifeLines (Circa), Taking Off (Fortune), The Country (Circa), and most recently the highly acclaimed Home Land (Circa) for which she won Director of the Year and Production of the Year at the Chapman Tripp Awards. She has also produced plays, stories and book readings for Radio New Zealand.

ENDS

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