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Rome: The Musical

PRESS RELEASE

THE DOMINION POST SEASON OF

ROME
THE MUSICAL

Written & Directed by Music by
PAUL JENDEN GARETH FARR

You are invited to a fun-packed evening of lust, greed and murder.
Welcome to the Caesars! And a decadent Roman feast of power and intrigue.

Mid-winter madness is upon us again – and what better way to celebrate the season than to join the fun at Circa Theatre with a fabulous night of music, singing, dancing and extravagant costumes at the World Première of ROME The Musical which opens on Saturday 21st June (Winter Solstice!) at 8pm, and runs until 26 July.

Jenden and Farr - the creators of the hugely successful Troy and Monarchy, complete their trilogy of historical musicals with a wild romp through the Roman Empire. The events of decades are condensed into the space of just one evening when Julius Caesar hosts a dinner party that is interrupted by the arrival of the infamous and exotic Cleopatra.

Talking about the trilogy, librettist, costumier and director, Paul Jenden says, “The three musicals share a strong historical content combined with wit, humour and an eye for entertainment. They treat history with a deceptively light hand, but in fact they are based on extensive research - many fans of the show particularly enjoy the historical accuracy at the heart of the madness.

“One of the large recurrent themes is the nature of power: TROY described the disaster of a royal family’s pride and folly; MONARCHY described the burden of power on a monarch; and ROME looks at how even a proud republic ended up electing a royal family.

“However, the focus of all three shows is the effect of larger events on individuals.

“The history of Rome contains centuries of amazing personalities, but in the process of writing the show I found that they shared so many character traits - ambition, greed, ruthlessness. Julius Caesar and his family seemed to represent the best and worst of the Roman Empire, so ROME condenses decades of history into one night and one cast of characters. Instead of the actors having to play up to 10 characters each, in ROME everyone plays only one part. But what parts - Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Cleopatra; all characters that the actors can really get their teeth into. And, because we are familiar with them, I have been able to play a little with their stories, so In ROME Caesar invites them all to a dinner on the 15th of March - the infamous Ides of March.

“It’s a bit like Agatha Christie - a small group of odd characters at dinner; one dies, then another... a sort of whodunnit in which we already know who done it.

Or do we? There’re a few twists that might be historically accurate or not...

“On a musical note, the band in ROME is quite different from the previous two shows –it has a small orchestra that contains no keyboards, not even a piano. The Klezmer-style group is made up of clarinet, violin, accordion, bass clarinet and percussion, all under the expert hand of Musical Director, Michael Vinten, briefly lured away from the world of opera.

“The gleefully anachronistic musical styles also disguise the serious consideration and work that goes into the score. At least two weeks of the rehearsal period are spent just learning the music! And there are recurrent musical themes and motifs in the three works. One theme in particular, heard in the first Trojans’ song, has been quoted directly in each work - an interesting “spot the theme” undertaking for fans of the shows.

“And … no togas! ROME is where Jenden and Farr meet Fellini!

“ROME is set in an undefined but somewhat contemporary age, and the costumes were designed with an eye on the latest couture shows from Paris and Milan. The set is inspired by the present day Roman ruins that fit comfortably into modern life, perhaps as a warning that Roman follies are likely to be repeated...


“From a personal perspective, a significant amount of time spent working in Rome has helped me considerably, plus being welcomed into my partner’s Italian family,” says Jenden.
“Rome is one of my favourite places, I can’t think of anywhere else as warm, as beautiful or as crazy.
I remember a film critic writing that she always believed that Fellini made fantasies, but after visiting Rome she realised that he made documentaries...”


So … bring a healthy appetite and indulge yourself in Roman extravagance, but … don’t touch the grapes...


Starring -
CHRISTINA CUSIEL, JASON WARD KENNEDY, LYNDEE-JANE RUTHERFORD, MARTYN WOOD, EMMA KINANE, JEFF KINGSFORD-BROWN, SARAH LINEHAM, LOUIS SOLINO, JULIAN WILSON

MUSIC DIRECTOR - MICHAEL VINTEN
Assisted by Sarah Lineham

ORCHESTRA: -
Clarinet – Debbie Rawson/Tui Clarke
Bass Clarinet – Hayden Sinclair
Accordion – Rebekah Greig
Violin – Chris Prosser
Percussion – Rich Wise

ROME
THE MUSICAL


Opens at on Saturday 21st June at 8pm
and runs until 29th July

$20 SpecialsSunday 22nd June – 4pm; Tuesday 24th June – 6.30pm


Performance times:
Tuesday & Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 8pm
Sunday 4pm

Ticket Prices:
Adults - $38; Concessions - $30; Friends of Circa - $28
Under 25s - $20; Groups 6+ s- $32

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

--

PAUL JENDEN
Writer, Director, Costume Design, Choreography

Paul Jenden wrote and directed his first play at 8 years old: a classroom adaptation of Charlotte’s Web. In 1975 he graduated from Victoria University with a degree in French Language and Literature and began a theatrical career that has seen him established as a director, designer, choreographer and writer.
In 1980 he left New Zealand to base himself in New York City and toured in the U.S.A. and Canada as well as Europe and Asia. He returned to live in New Zealand in 1989.
Paul has many successes to his name. His first production at Circa Theatre was Fairy Stories in 1996, which began a series of highly successful Christmas shows. His Dancing the Gay Fandango at Taki Rua in 1991 became a top selling show at the 1994 Adelaide Fringe Festival and Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival. His sparkling 1989 production of Le Papillon was one the most popular NZ works ever mounted by the Royal New Zealand Ballet and with Maclary Theatre Productions he produced The Hairy Maclary Show which has toured widely in New Zealand featured in Adelaide’s Come Out Festival and at the Victorian Centre for the Arts.
At Circa he has designed sets and costumes for Dirty Weekends, Boys at the Beach, Travesties, Cinderella, Aladdin and Jack and the Beanstalk and worked as a movement consultant on Stones in his Pockets, The Cherry Orchard and The Underpants. He was the lyricist for Roger Hall’s Cinderella, Aladdin and Who Needs Sleep Anyway and has twice teamed up with Gareth Farr to write the highly successful TROY The Musical and Monarchy – the musical.
He has twice been voted Costume Designer of the Year at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.


GARETH FARR
Composer

Well-known New Zealand composer and percussionist Gareth Farr was born in Wellington on Leap Year Day 1968. He studied composition, orchestration and electronic music at Auckland University and was a regular player with the Auckland Philharmonia and the Karlheinz Company. Further study followed at Victoria University, Wellington, where he became known for his exciting compositions, often using the Indonesian gamelan.
He played frequently as a percussionist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra before departing New Zealand to study composition with Christopher Rouse at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York, where he graduated Master of Music.
In 1993, at the age of 25, Gareth became Chamber Music New Zealand’s youngest composer-in-residence. Since then, his works have been commissioned and performed by the NZSO, the Auckland Philharmonia, the Wellington Sinfonia, the New Zealand String Quartet, and a variety of other professional ensembles in New Zealand and overseas. From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs, a commission from the NZSO to commemorate the orchestra’s 50th anniversary, was premiered at a Gala Concert in March 1997.
Gareth was commissioned to write a work to celebrate the opening of Te Papa, and the resulting work, combining symphony orchestra with soprano, tenor and karanga was hailed as “music with a powerful and moving impact that transcends idiom and individual taste”. Another highlight was the performance of two of Gareth’s works by the NZSO at the Sydney Olympics; the percussion concerto Hikoi which was composed for and performed by the internationally-renowned Evelyn Glennie, and Wairua, a unique work combining a Maori kapa haka group with the full symphony orchestra.
In addition to his music for the concert hall, Gareth has written music for television and film, including The Strip, a 20 episode NZ drama series, and Spring Flames, a short film directed by Aileen O’Sullivan. Dance has also featured strongly in Gareth’s recent work with The Wedding based on the book by Witi Ihimaera for the Royal NZ Ballet, and Maui: One Man Against the Gods with Tanemahuta Gray. And, of course, Gareth wrote the music for TROY The Musical and MONARCHY The Musical at Circa.
Gareth’s music is heavily influenced by his extensive study of percussion, both Western and non-Western. Rhythmic and timbral elements of his compositions can be linked to the complex and exciting rhythms of pacific island log drum ensembles and the dynamic and colourful sounds of the Indonesian gamelan.
Five full-length CDs of his music have been released to date on the Trust Records label - chamber orchestra, chamber music, string quartets and two orchestral CDs. A CD single of Te Papa was also released in 1998.
Gareth was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to music and entertainment in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.


CHRISTINA CUSIEL
Cleopatra

One of NZ’s finest vocalists, Christina Cusiel was classically trained from the age of 10, and has studied with several prominent vocal tutors including Malcolm McNeill. While studying at Christchurch Jazz School she started a six-piece ensemble called Midas Touch, a Manhattan Transfer influenced show band. Midas Touch became the first NZ band in over a decade to be invited to perform in Switzerland at the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival, where they performed alongside world-renowned artists such as Betty Carter, Bobby McFerrin and Cassandra Wilson, before opening for Dionne Warwick in Auckland and Wellington.
In 1996 Christina was named Female Vocalist of the Year in the Wellington Music Awards.
She was then contracted to perform for the Hard Rock Café in Guangzhou for 6 months, and on returning to Wellington she fronted the Roger Fox Band before forming her own group, funk/soul band Lady Marmalade and the Jazz group the Christina Cusiel Trio. She later toured NZ with her original music, joining well-known TV and Radio personality Gary McCormick on his Millennium Man tour.
When the Tommy Loungerillo Orchestra was formed for the International Laugh Festival in Wellington and Auckland and Nelson Festival of the Arts, Christina became a Loungerillo and formidable ex-wife of Tommy – Shirley Loungerillo. Meanwhile Cristina was performing once again with her Jazz ensemble to sold-out concerts at Wellington and Waiheke Jazz festivals.
In 2002 Christina joined the Beat Girls – a high-energy fully choreographed and costumed show specialising in music from 60s girl groups to Mowtown to Disco and ranging to today. Christina has performed in Beat Girl shows It’s My Party, The Beat Girls Mid-Winter Christmas Show, A tribute to the Andrews Sisters and Beat Girls Birthday Bash.
Christina was last seen at Circa as Elizabeth 2 in Monarchy The Musical last year.


JASON WARD KENNEDY
Mark Antony

Jason has worked extensively in theatre’s throughout NZ, Australia and Germany in over 50 professional productions including Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Urinetown, Guys & Dolls, Les Miserables, Tanz Der Vampire (Dir Roman Polanski), TROY The Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific and Fly me to the Moon. Jason has performed in a variety of concerts, sung with several bands, has several TV & Film credits and toured with several children’s productions including CapitalE and The Wriggles as Captain Feathersword. He was last seen in Wellington in Handyman at Bats.


EMMA KINANE
Calpurnia

Emma graduated from NZ Drama School in 1988. Her first professional role was playing a 7-foot-long homicidal axolotyl in Jism. Since then she has played diverse roles in musicals such as Lifelines, Aunt Daisy!, Shakers, Tomfoolery, and the corporate-commissioned, group-devised, Glaxo the Musical which is perhaps best forgotten. Emma’s favourite singing role involved channelling various pop stars in Dead Tragic. She was part of the two earlier Paul Jenden and Gareth Farr collaborations, Troy the Musical and Monarchy the Musical in 2006 and 2007 and is thrilled to be back again this year for Rome. Emma was last seen at Circa as Violet in The Winslow Boy.
Her dramatic roles include Gertrude in Hamlet, Zebrowski in The Temptations of St Max, and Violet in Steaming. She played “Miss” Aslaksen in Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, which won the Chapman Tripp 2003 Production of the Year Award.
Emma’s comedy roles include Yvonne in Sisters, Phil in The Sex Fiend, Phoebe in As You Like It, Emily in Social Climbers, Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Trish in Pack of Girls, and Robin in Mum’s the Word.
TV credits include guest spots on Outrageous Fortune, The Killian Curse, Coverstory, Ivanhoe (Dark Knight), Freaky and Willy Nilly. Her favourite short film role was Sue in The Man Who Couldn’t Dance.
Emma is a published writer of short stories and poetry. She has worked with Tim Spite’s SEEyD Collective twice, co-writing and performing in Turbine in 2007 and Paua in 2008. She has also co-written two short films produced during the 48 Hours Furious Filmmaking Festival last year and this year.
She received the Evening Post Best Actress of 1990 Award for her work as Ruth in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and was nominated for Best Performance in 2007’s Chapman Tripp Awards for Fat Pig at Circa.
Emma is married to Musical Director Michael Williams and they have two children Barnaby and Claire.


JEFF KINGSFORD-BROWN
Julius Caesar

Jeff has been involved in professional theatre both in NZ and overseas, as an actor and director for over twenty years.
Jeff last appeared at Circa in the Roger Hall pantomime, Jack & the Beanstalk as Bob the Butcher, and before this as a variety of monarchs and miscreants in Farr & Jenden’s highly acclaimed Monarchy - the Musical last year. As well as acting & singing in ROME, Jeff is currently directing Helen Moulder in A Vote for Cynthia, a one-woman show being staged at Circa in July.


SARAH LINEHAM
Soothsayer & Asst Musical Director

Sarah has only just finished a season of the acclaimed Musical The Last 5 Years, where she played the lead role of Cathy. Last year Sarah was guest soloist with the Vector Wellington Orchestra and Orpheus Choir, singing hits from right across the musical theatre repertoire. She also toured The North Island with Operatunity, and was part of the ground-breaking Indonesian/New Zealand stage production Spinning Mountain for WOMAD and the Capital E International Children’s Festival.
She has performed the role of Helen (plus other colourful characters) in the smash hit Troy - The Musical at Circa Theatre, played Lisette in Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera in Tokyo and was a company member for the NZ touring production of Evita. In 2003 Sarah wrote and performed the play Fever – A Peggy Lee story at Circa, Christchurch’s Court Theatre and the Nelson Arts Festival, and released an accompanying tribute album, featuring the songs of Peggy Lee.
Sarah has played Maria in Wellington Musical Theatre’s West Side Story, toured New Zealand with Ray Woolf as Maria in The Sound of Music, and performed in musicals including Sweeney Todd (Downstage), Dirty Weekends (Centrepoint) and The Happy Prince (Capital E tour). For many years Sarah was a member of the New Zealand Opera Chorus, the New Zealand National Youth Choir, and Voices New Zealand.
Sarah is an experienced recording artist, performing on numerous television soundtracks including Amazing Extraordinary Friends, Revelations and Secret Agent Men, as well as guest performances on shows such as McDonald’s Young Entertainers. She recently recorded vocals on the new Phoenix Foundation album Happy Endings. In addition to her performing roles, Sarah has produced vocal recordings for artists such as Tim Beveridge (Come Rain, Come Shine), and worked as Assistant Music Director for the recent TV2 musical drama series Karaoke High.


LYNDEE-JANE RUTHERFORD
Octavia

Lyndee-Jane Rutherford is an actor and award winning theatre director. A graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School she has performed in over 30 theatre productions throughout New Zealand, including Fat Pig, Mum’s Choir, The Vagina Monologues and In Flame, for which she received a nomination for Actress of the Year at the 2003 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. Lyndee-Jane is a familiar face on TV having been core cast of the comedy series Skitz, The Semisis, the TV2 kids show WNTV and most recently TV One’s acclaimed drama series The Hothouse. In 2006 Lyndee-Jane was awarded Best New Director at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for her production of Duncan Sarkies’ Lovepuke. Lyndee-Jane has been core cast in all three “the Musicals” with Paul Jenden and Gareth Farr, Troy the Musical, Monarchy the Musical and now Rome the Musical.


JULIAN WILSON
Octavian

Julian is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and has appeared in numerous theatre productions all over the country, including Play2 in Auckland in 2002, The Expert at Circa Studio, kid's shows Out of my Mind, Motormouth, Songs of the Sea and Papershaper for Capital E: National Theatre for Children, performed at the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin in Lulu, The Graduate and Hamlet, and starred as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors at Downstage Theatre in 2005. At Circa, Julian has appeared in Golden Boys in Circa Two, doubled as Howard Wagner and Stanley in Death of a Salesman, played Benjamin Cohen in The Underpants (for which he won Best Male Supporting Actor at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 2006), Fag in The Rivals, and has developed a reputation for being a Dame - appearing as the infamous Widow Twankey in Aladdin and Hilda Hardup in Jack & the Beanstalk. Last year he, and other bits of him, appeared at Downstage in The Graduate, and Othello, numerous characters in Monarchy - the Musical , The Dumb Waiter at Toi Whakaari, and this year has started out strongly with rave reviews in the Fortune Theatre's recent production of Moonlight & Magnolias.


MARTYN WOOD
Brutus

Martyn graduated from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 2006 and has since appeared in Lovers of Central Park for Fringe ’07, Two Brothers and This Is Our Youth at Circa, Finding Murdoch, Angels in America and Urinetown: The Musical at Downstage and Footballistic at BATS. Last year he produced the sell out season of Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the San Francisco Bath-house, where he also played the role of Danny, for which he was nominated as the Most Promising Male Newcomer at the 2007 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. He will next be seen in the Wellington premiere of Mr Marmalade which he is also producing, before touring Sexual Perversity to Auckland.


ENDS

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