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The Wizard of Oz – RNZB’s biggest production of the year


RNZB dancer Lucy Green as Dorothy. Credit: Ross Brown

Media Release – 5 April 2016 for immediate release

The Wizard of Oz – RNZB’s biggest production of the year

One of the world’s best known stories, The Wizard of Oz, has been lovingly crafted by the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia into a magical two act ballet.

The world premiere of The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz takes place in Wellington on 4 May, ahead of the RNZB’s biggest tour of 2016, visiting nine centres around New Zealand.

Drawing his inspiration from L. Frank Baum’s popular novel (originally published in 1900), Francesco Ventriglia has stayed true to the much-loved tale of Dorothy and her friends’ magical journey to the Emerald City.

“This story is very close to my heart. I loved it as a child and feel that it holds many truths that are too easily forgotten or overlooked in adulthood. I’m delighted to choreograph this ballet for my New Zealand dancers and to have its world premiere in New Zealand – my new home”, says Francesco Ventriglia.

Originally created in Florence in 2013 as a one act ballet, an accident of fate meant that the ballet was never performed. Years later, and on the other side of the world, Francesco Ventriglia has expanded and recreated his original production for the RNZB.

The new production features the ‘jazz age’ music of French composer Francis Poulenc, which is fast and very cinematic. Francesco Ventriglia describes the specially created score as “a greatest hits of Poulenc”, compiled by RNZB company pianist Michael Pansters.

“Each character has their own dance vocabulary – classical pointe work, barefooted contemporary ballet, and even some ruby slipper tap dancing,” he adds.

The stunning sets and costumes, designed in Italy by Gianluca Falaschi, bring Dorothy and her friends and foes to sparkling life in a magical world that will enchant audiences of all ages.

“There’s tutus for the porcelain world, Munchkins in 1930s style bathing suits, bare-chested flying monkeys, butterfly-gowned good witch, exaggerated bustle and black corset for the wicked witch and of course loads of green sequins, red glitter and gingham,” says Francesco Ventriglia.

This production is also the RNZB’s first to be sponsored by Ryman Healthcare. “We’ve always been a keen supporter of the arts and we’re especially excited about this sponsorship because we know it is a story that will resonate with our residents. Everyone loves the film, and we’re expecting the ballet version to be spectacular. Our residents – and the rest of New Zealand – are in for a treat. We’re turning our villages into our own versions of Oz complete with yellow brick roads to celebrate,’’ says Simon Challies, Managing Director, Ryman Healthcare.

Join Dorothy on her journey as she learns that quick wits, compassion and courage—and just a touch of magic—are inside us all. The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz opens in Wellington on 4 May and tours to Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, closing in Napier on 12 June.

ENDS


RNZB dancer Lucy Green as Dorothy credit Ross Brown

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz
4 May – 12 June 2016
Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, Napier
For booking info see www.rnzb.org.nz

Wellington St James Theatre: Wed 4 – Thurs 5 May 7.30pm, Fri 6 May 7.30pm (free Pre-performance Talk, 6.30pm), Sat 7 May 1.30 (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm), Sun 8 May 4pm.
Christchurch Isaac Theatre Royal: Thurs 12 May, Fri 13 May 7.30pm (free Pre-performance Talk, 6.30pm), Sat 14 May 1.30pm (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm).
Invercargill Civic Theatre: Wed 18 May 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm).
Dunedin Regent Theatre: Sat 21 May 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm).
Blenheim ASB Theatre: Wed 25 May 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm).
Rotorua Civic Theatre: Sat 28 May 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm) & Sun 29 May 1.30pm.
Auckland ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre: Thurs 2 June 7.30pm, Fri 3 June 7.30pm, (free Pre-performance Talk, 6.30pm), Sat 4 June 1.30pm (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm(Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm), Sun 5 June 4pm.
Palmerston North Regent on Broadway: Thurs 9 June 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at 6.20pm).
Napier Napier Municipal Theatre: Sat 11 June 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up at6.20pm), Sun 12 June 4pm.

Next season:
Giselle 11 August – 9 September: Wellington, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Rotorua, Palmerston North
Former RNZB Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel’s classic production of Giselle first toured New Zealand in 2012, to critical acclaim and sell-out audiences. Subsequently performed by the RNZB in China, the USA, the UK and Italy, and turned into a feature film by New Zealand director Toa Fraser, this is a welcome opportunity for New Zealand audiences to again see this hauntingly beautiful ballet.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet
The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) was founded in 1953 by Danish dancer Poul Gnatt, as a touring professional ballet company for all New Zealanders. Now based at Wellington’s St James Theatre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s national heritage, and has the largest following of all New Zealand performing arts companies. The Royal New Zealand Ballet continues to invest in live music, performing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Southern Sinfonia. The RNZB enjoys a reputation for strong and unique interpretations of full-length dramatic works. To this base the RNZB have been added many masterworks and major ballets of the 20th century, such as Balanchine's works and the Stravinsky ballets. The company has an enviable track record in commissioning new works from New Zealand and international choreographers. The RNZB regularly represents New Zealand on the international stage, with recent tours to the UK, Australia, China, USA and Italy.

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