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Bold New Musical Premieres in Christchurch Arts Festival

Bold New Musical Premieres in Christchurch Arts Festival

An imagined conversation between suffragist, activist and cyclist Kate Sheppard and her political adversary Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon has become a bold new musical theatre piece combining punk, rock, disco and gospel.

Written by well-known Christchurch conductor and musical director Luke Di Somma with Greg Cooper, That Bloody Woman has its world premiere at Christchurch Arts Festival this month.

That Bloody Woman is at the TVNZ Festival Club, The Arts Centre from 28-30 August.

Rehearsals for the show are now underway and Luke Di Somma is excited to be finally seeing the story, words and music come off the page and onto the stage.

“The idea for the show struck me while I was on a bus going from New York to Philadelphia quite a few years ago now. I’d been to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical about America’s seventh president Andrew Jackson and thought about how musical theatre and politics combined so well. I wondered who would be a New Zealand historical figure who would make a good subject for a musical – and I came up with Kate Sheppard – she was an anti-establishment firebrand and encapsulates the Kiwi battler.”

Fast forward a few months and the idea just would not go away so Luke got hold of Greg Cooper and together the pair began working on a show. “That was more than four years ago now, so it’s been a long time coming.”

Luke says the show has taken on a life of its own and has become part musical theatre and part rock concert with a live band on stage as part of the action and an eclectic mix of music styles from rock to punk, disco, funk and gospel.

“It’s exhilarating to create something that really is going to be out of the box, something a little bit different and exciting.”

Luke oringially asked Shane Bosher to direct, but work commitments in Sydney meant Shane had to pull out and Christchurch-raised actor and director Kip Chapman has taken up the directorial reins.

Kip is excited to be part of the production and said it was the first time he has had the chance to be involved in theatre back in his hometown. Kip attended Christ’s College in Christchurch and has been working in professional theatre as an actor and director for the past 15 years.

“This is super exciting for me – I’ve been wanting to be involved in a project in Christchurch for a long time and That Bloody Woman is going to be edgy, but very accessible. It’s eclectic and fun.”

The cast for That Bloody Woman features Esther Stephens (West Side) playing Kate, Geoffrey Dolan playing ‘King Dick’, along with Amy Straker, Phoebe Hurst, Cameron Douglas and Kyle Chuen.

“We’ve got a fantastic cast for the show – it’s just going to be great,” Kip said.

That Bloody Woman has its world premiere season at the TVNZ Festival Club, The Arts Centre from 28-30 August. Tickets are available through Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

That Bloody Woman is one of 50 shows and events in Christchurch Arts Festival – discover more at


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