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1 Taranaki Street, Wellington | Box Office Ph: 04 801 7992
Duration: 27 July - 20 Aug
SOLD OUT!
Price: $25 - $39
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Starring Ali Harper with Michael Williams
Produced by Ali-Cat Productions

SOLD OUT!

 

“GREAT EVENING OF MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT” – Dom Post

“TOUCHING AND VERY POIGNANT” – Dom Post

Legendary Divas is a show starring award winning actress and singer Ali Harper and honours the legendary women that inspired us with their music. Talented, hardworking, original and courageous women who gave so much of themselves, no matter the price…. Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Barbra Streisand and many more.

Expect nostalgia, comedy, audience participation, a rip roaring 80s medley with a splash of Madonna as well as many stories enlightening the audience; French Chanteuse Edith Piaf’s connection with the Resistance, a Julie Andrew’s ‘My Fair Lady’ spoof to Dolly Parton’s love for the ‘nip and tuck’.

Glamorous and captivating, Legendary Divas is a feast for anyone who wants to reminisce and celebrate those extraordinary women whose songs will always remain in our hearts.

Ali will be joined by Wellington’s much loved Michael Nicholas Williams on piano for this spell-binding evening.

 

 

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes (with no interval).

 

  • 27 July – 20 Aug
    Tues-Sat 7.30pm
    Sun 4.30pm

    Preview 26 July
    Tues 7.30pm

    Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes (with no interval).

    • Full: $39.00
    • Seniors/ Students: $34.00
    • Friends of Circa: $30.00
    • Groups 6+: $34.00
    • Groups 20 +: $28.00
    • Under 25s: $25.00
    • Preview $25
  • RESPECT, HUMOUR, STYLE AND CHARM

    Print Version

    LEGENDARY DIVAS
    Ali Harper
    Musical directors: Richard Marrett (Christchurch); David Sidwell (Hamilton +)

    at Circa Two, Wellington
    Until 20 Aug 2016
    [1hr 20mins (no interval)]

    Reviewed by Maryanne Cathro, 28 Jul 2016

    Well people, this is how it is done. Put two outstanding performers on stage who have also known each other for 26 years, and the magic happens.

    I first saw Ali Harper in Circa Two performing Tell Me On A Sunday back in 1998, and she was fabulous then. Eighteen years later, her talent has matured like a good cognac, developing breadth and depth and soul, although on stage she sparkles like champagne!

    Michael Nicholas Williams has finally returned to Wellington after a year in Europe, and it is a joy to see and hear him performing here again. The two enjoy some affectionate interplay that adds fun and spontaneity to the show. The accompaniment is sometimes boosted by recorded orchestrals that enhance the tremendous range of songs brought together.

    Divas have been a part of our musical landscape for most of the 20th Century and we are treated to hits by Cilla, Dusty, Shirley, Judy, Diana, Dolly, Barbra – all the Divas! Harper is an excellent impersonator of these singers, with utmost respect, some gentle humour and with her own unique style.

    This show has been on the road, on and off, for a while now but you would never know it as Ali Harper’s performance is as fresh as if it were her first opening night.

    I wasn’t sure how Edith Piaf and Tina Turner numbers could share a stage, but Harper makes it work seamlessly. She weaves medleys, full songs, upbeat Motown and a truly moving performance of ‘Send in the Clowns’ together with spoken and musical segues, audience interaction and effervescent charm.

    I am particularly moved by the tribute to the courage of the Divas who got up there and sang for us through lost love, addiction, estrangements and entanglements, ruin and triumph. However this is balanced throughout by Harper’s owning her own talent and ‘Divanicity’.

    At the end we were all on our feet, but I am sure it would have been a standing ovation anyway. Great work, La Diva Ali and Maestro Michael!

  • Legendary Divas


    Written by Ali Harper
    Running at Circa Theatre until 20th Aug
    Reviewed by Madelaine Empson

    Legendary Divas is a show starring New Zealand’s “diva in her own right” Ali Harper, with Michael Williams on the keys. It is dedicated to the women who have inspired us with their music, and honours these women through song. A natural-born performer, Ali sings everybody from Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, and Barbra Streisand to Julie Andrews, Doris Day, and Edith Piaf with grace, sparkling charisma, and immeasurable talent.

    Ali is absolutely captivating on stage, impersonating the greats with respect and reverence whilst still letting her own light shine. The setting is intimate, the audience mesmerised, and her passion palpable.

    Michael Williams holds his own against this spectacular figure, engaging in cheeky banter with us between songs and delivering a heartfelt solo piano performance during a costume change. At times Michael plays along with multi-instrumental tracks, adding new dimensions to each song, and at times accompanies Ali solo. These moments are when the chemistry between these lifelong friends positively fizzes, and their respective and collective talent awes us all.

    Ali eases into audience interaction towards the end of the performance, and audience members seize the opportunity. The room fills with joy and laughter as we are allowed the opportunity to belt out our favourites alongside this wonderful woman, although we certainly ‘couldn’t hit the notes’ quite as well as she could.

    Legendary Divas was just wonderful. The time simply flew by and the audience was left invigorated, inspired, and wanting more. I am an Ali Harper fan for life now.

  • Ali Harper – Legendary Diva at Circa Theatre

    By , 27/07/2016

    Circa Theatre presents:
    Ali Harper in LEGENDARY DIVAS

    Ali Harper (soprano)
    Michael Nicholas Williams (piano)

    Circa Theatre, Wellington

    Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

    I came away from singer Ali Harper’s and musical director Michael Nicholas William’s “Legendary Divas” opening night presentation at Circa Theatre feeling as though I had been seduced in the nicest and yet most whirlwind kind of way – Ali Harper’s all-encompassing stage personality, supported by her own and her pianist Michael Nicholas William’s consummate musicality throughout, simply took me over for the duration. To bend a clichéd but appropriate phrase, I could have gone on all night, both drinking in and delighting in as much as “the diva” and her director were prepared to give me. Staggering out afterwards into “the cold night air” was, more than usually on this occasion, a salutary return to a separate reality.

    The range and scope of the territory covered by Harper’s and Williams’ performance was, I thought, astonishing – Harper stated in a programme note that her performance was one “honouring all those extraordinary women who have influenced me to do what I do today”. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, she certainly fulfilled her goal, paying a deep and rich homage to an array of amazing singers throughout the course of the evening. In a sense it was all art which concealed art, with some occasionally mind-bending, but always spontaneous-sounding juxtapositions of singers and repertoire served up to us as organically as night follows day.

    We got introductory gestures of welcome, including some instantly-engaging and physically exhilarating Motown-sound sequences, and some rhetorical teasings regarding the definition of the word “diva”, including a “bel canto-ish”, affectionately-hammed-up “O mio babbino caro” (until the advent of Luciano Pavarotti’s version of “Nessun dorma”, perhaps Puccini’s “greatest hit”!) and then a “can belt-o!” rendition of parts of an Ethel Merman standard! – whew! The subject of what a diva would wear came up, and, along with the question of suitable scenery, was consigned by Harper to the realms of relative unimportance next to “the glittering presence of (I quote) the gorgeous Michael Nicholas Williams” (rapturous applause).

    I was delighted that Harper gave none other than Doris Day, an all-time favourite singer of mine, the honour of leading off the starry array, with a beautiful rendition of “It’s Magic”, a song from “Romance on the High Seas”, which was Day’s film debut in 1948. Harper’s winning vocal quality and powerful focusing of each word in a properly heartfelt context allowed the material to soar and transport us most satisfyingly in doing so. Barbara Streisand received similar laudatory treatment with Harper pulling out all her full-on stops in a raunchy performance of “Don’t rain on my Parade”, though, by contrast, another of my favourites, Julie Andrews, to my great regret became the butt of some ageist humour, albeit most skilfully brought off, with some hilarious, Hoffnung-like downwardly-spiralling vocal modulations……..oh, well, one can’t have ALL one’s heroines treated like goddesses, I suppose!

    The subjective nature of things had me in raptures at Harper’s devastating rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”, which for me brought back something of the impact I remember made by the original singer Julie Covington’s tones and inflections. True, the singer may well have had either or both Elaine Paige and Madonna in mind – but such was the intensity of the interpretation, this became Harper’s moment more than anybody else’s. By contrast I found the normally affecting “Send in the Clowns” a trifle earthbound here, more world-weary and disillusioned than I wanted it to be, with a harder, less “floated” vocal line that I was expecting – it still worked, but in a tougher, rather more hard-bitten sense of the reality of things, with which I found it more difficult to “connect” – chacun en son gout, as they say………

    Entertainments of more diverse kinds came and went, adding to the evening’s variety – Ali Harper’s “la belle dame sans merci” advancement on a hapless front-row male audience member, with a view to “dragging him up onto the performing stage”, worked beautifully, thanks to her persuasive charm as well as to the good-natured response of the gentleman involved, who seemed to gradually ‘‘get into the swing” of what was required to partner such a vibrant performer.

    Another was Michael Nicholas Williams’ response to being told by Harper to “entertain the audience” while she went and changed her dress – as divas apparently do – an exercise which brought forth a couple of subsequent admonishments from the singer regarding the pianist’s initial choices of music, until Williams finally called her bluff by launching into THE Rachmaninov Prelude (C-sharp Minor, Op.3 No.2) and playing it with plenty of virtuosity, to boot! The music’s climax was interrupted by the singer’s re-entry in a classic, show-stopping way, wearing a gorgeous, close-fitting red dress and immediately launching into a bracket of songs associated with Shirley Bassey (mostly the title songs from the early James Bond movies, such as “Goldfinger”, all belted out in the best Bassey style!) – tremendous stuff!

    Harper touched on the tragic aspects of some of her heroines – figures such as Judy Garland and Edith Piaf, both of whom died at a relatively early age – commenting that many seemed unlucky in love, and that a number also had what she called “image issues”, citing a quote from Janis Joplin (which I can’t remember, but was to do with her getting a rough ride from her schoolmates all throughout her college years, and never really escaping from the hurt). Though not directly referred to, there was conveyed a real sense of another, well-known Joplin quote which applied to a lot of performers and to what they did: – “Onstage I make love to 25,000 people – and then afterwards I go home alone…” Harper’s show didn’t dwell overmuch on the tragic stories, instead largely engaging the “divas” at the height of their singing and performance powers (well, perhaps with the exception of the unfortunate Julie Andrews) and conveying something of the essence of what those women did with their stellar talents.

    In all, what Harper and Williams achieved was a veritable tour de force – of entertainment, involvement and enjoyment – a particularly stirring moment was the singer’s invitation for the audience to sing along with her in Carole King’s heartwarming “You’ve got a friend”, after which Harper’s chosen “friend” from the audience was recalled and promptly put in the hot seat once again, this time enjoined to help the rest of us identify the voices of eight well-known women singers – some of the “divas” whose talents and inspirational achievements lifted our own lives several notches upwards and gave voice to our innermost feelings and dreams. Ali Harper throughout the evening “owned” these women with total conviction, bringing to us the personalities through their songs – of the “eight divas” I picked the first two, Dusty Springfield and Peggy Lee, and as well I thought I caught snatches of Tina Turner and Olivia Newton-John – others with wider-ranging antennae would have “picked up” on the rest.

    Thought-provoking, also, to have those images at the show’s end, some of whom I hadn’t heard of – Julie London, Etta James, Ruth Etting, and Eva Cassidy – receiving from Harper their deserved moment of glory, along with names which resonated for me, such as Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Nina Simone. But despite these evocations of greatness, nothing and nobody eclipsed the achievement of Ali Harper, her incredible communicative power, her infectious élan and her magnificent singing. With her illustrious music director, Michael Nicholas Williams at the pianistic helm, she was a force to be reckoned with – in all, I thought “Legendary Divas” a must-see!

“Legendary Divas is a memorable night of great music and song from a New Zealand legend, Ali Harper.” – Gail Pittaway, Theatreview Hamilton, 2015

“‘With an ability to capture but not parody Streisand’s slightly nasal, Julie Andrew’s immaculate diction, Merman’s hint of metal, and Janis Joplins or Carole King’s bluesy edge, virtually every song is a show stopper.” – Gail Pittaway, Theatreview Hamilton, 2015

“Loud applause for this generously gifted actress, with an all-enveloping voice that can take us with her no matter what she sings, is a further extension of the celebration of song that Ali offers.” – Lindsay Clark, Theatreview Christchurch, 2015

  • aliA graduate of Toi Whakaari: The New Zealand Drama School, Ali wears many hats in the entertainment business; Actress, Singer, MC, Writer and Producer.  She has starred in numerous musicals and plays around New Zealand. Highlights include Blood Brothers (The Court Theatre), Mamma Mia (Dunedin & Hamilton), My Fair Lady (The Court Theatre), Mary Poppins (The Court Theatre), Sound of Music (The Court Theatre,) Guys and Dolls (The Court Theatre) and Tell Me On A Sunday (The Court Theatre & Circa Theatre). In 2014, Ali performed the one-woman play Bombshells at the United Solo Festival in New York where she was awarded ‘Best Actress’ as well as ‘Chapman Tripp Best Actress’ in 2008 in Wellington.  Ali has toured Bombshells to 38 venues around New Zealand. Other tours include Oklahoma, Pirates of Penzance, Evita and Chess. Performing at New York’s prestigious Metropolitan Room in 2013 and 2014 with her cabaret show Naughty and Nice: A Down Under Diva!  Ali enjoys continued success with her shows Legendary Divas, Naughty and Nice, An Evening with Ali Harper and Ali Harper sings the Gershwin Songbook as well as Guest Entertainer on Cruise ships. Television credits include Hope and Wire, The Strip, Market Forces and resident singer for 4 years on TV One’s Dancing with the Stars. She was also a Radio Co-host on Wellington’s Classic Hits. Last year Ali released her CD Legendary Divas, and has two other albums entitled Naughty and Nice and Something So Right. Ali’s musical play A Doris Day Special is being launched this year along with her 4th album. Visit www.aliharper.com and Facebook: aliharpernz

  • Michael Nicholas Williams Headshot (1)Michael is one of New Zealand’s most respected Pianists and Musical Directors. His huge portfolio of shows includes Musical Director of the National Tours of Ken Hill’s Original Phantom of the Opera as well as two seasons in Japan, Blood Brothers in New Zealand and Australia, The New Rocky Horror Show, Boogie Nights and Starlight Express along with numerous shows in Wellington including Downstage’s Sweeney Todd, the Gareth Farr/Paul Jenden musicals Troy and Monarchy and many Wellington Musical Theatre productions. Michael has written the music and lyrics for the short film Call Me Al and the music, lyrics and script of Lonely Heart which premiered at BATS theatre. His movie musical Upstage which he wrote and directed is currently being edited. He produced and arranged Sue Dunlop’s album Random Deviations. Michael is married to actress Emma Kinane and they have two children, Barnaby and Claire.

 

‘The promo line of “Quiet please there’s a lady on stage” is litotes in Ali Harper’s ‘Legendary Divas.’ She dominates this delicious evening out. She sings divinely. She shares snippets of women’s lives in between singing their songs and her rapport with the audience is infectious.’ – Ngaire Riley, Theatreview New Plymouth, 2015

“From her dramatic James Bond theme hits (‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Moonraker’) and a soaring Edith Piaf dedication to owning Carol King’s consummate (You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman, Ali Harper received a standing ovation and proved why she is so well respected and talented.” – Steve Scott, Hamilton News, 2015

“Ali Harper lights up every room she enters, owns every stage she steps upon, and steals every heart that hears her sing.”- Alex Rybeck, New York, 2013