Press Release – Whitireia Polytech
Casting the Broadway musical “Nine” at Whitireia Theatre posed a challenge for Christchurch director, Stephen Robertson. The show has just one central male character but there are two men on the Whitireia Musical Theatre programme this year.Two Men One Role
Casting the Broadway musical “Nine” at Whitireia Theatre posed a challenge for Christchurch director, Stephen Robertson. The show has just one central male character but there are two men on the Whitireia Musical Theatre programme this year.
“Choreographer, Leigh Evans, and I had an extended email conversation about it and we decided we would cast both men in the lead role. This means they take turns each performing every second night,” says Robertson.
The show revolves around one man and his desperate attempts to re-kindle his creative magic. His search takes him back in time to examine the many relationships in his life – his wife, his mistress, his mother and his muse.
“Nine” is the obvious choice for a graduation show according to Robertson. “There are 17 wonderful female performers alongside the two men, so the show is an excellent vehicle for them.”
This is the first time that the Whitireia Commercial Dance and Musical Theatre programme have combined for a graduation show. “It has been a real bonus to include the skilled dancers alongside the singers it is bringing a sophisticated pzazz to the production.”
Robertson is regarded as one of the best musical theatre directors in the country and has just finished a gruelling schedule directing CATS at the Ashburton Events centre. He moved to Christchurch four years ago and was thrilled to come back to his home town to direct “Nine”. He is also thrilled to be working again with Leigh Evans as they have a lengthy history of directing and choreographing musicals together.
Nick Purdie and Manaia Glassey-Ohlson are they young men who have been cast as Guido Contini, the famous director facing a creative crisis. “The musical is better than the film version as there are more songs in it and the storyline is stronger,” says Manaia. He says it is awesome working with Robertson and the team, which includes notable musical director Michael Nicholas Williams.
The two have been studying for a diploma in musical theatre for two years and when asked what it is like working with seven young women in the class Purdie says “what’s not to like!” As they share many classes with the dance students they have actually been the only men amongst 17 women for the past two years. They say it is nice to be in demand as they get to be used frequently for partnering and duets.
Both featured in the chorus of “42nd Street” at St James this year. “That was an amazing experience,” says Purdie, “We worked with the original Broadway choreography which involved complex tap repertoires. I had never tap danced when I started the programme two years ago. It was good to get a measure of whether we stood up to Wellington industry standards – I think we proved that we did” he says.
“Nine” is showing at the Whitireia Theatre from 26th November to 3rd December bookings and information at www.thetheatre.co.nz