The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

I’m pretty excited that Album Party is the first show to benefit from BATS Theatre and The Basement Theatre (Auckland) working together to support the best new emerging shows to tour to both cities. A concert, a comedy gig and a play all rolled into one, The Better Best Possible Album Party That Anybody Has Ever Been Two follows TYLA and Deni$ through the highs and the lows of attempting pop music world domination.

It stars born and bred Wellingtons Kate McGill as TYLA and Frith Horan as Deni$ with support from Tim Nuttall. They’ve got a dance crew of Wellington’s freshest hip hop talent from local secondary schools. “We have 12 dancers Gabbi, Grace, Ali, Madeline, Charlie, Timon, Celia, Emily, Meg, Molly, Kate, Lara and Imogen – they form their own sub-crew ‘Spice Rack’ and each have chosen a spicy stage name, our current favourite being Garam Masala. We are overjoyed to have a strong range of actors, dancers and musicians joining us. They’re pretty freaking great.”

McGill and Horan met at Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School, where they formed a desire to make engaging work with a strong purpose. “Pop music is infectious; it gives us liberties we might not otherwise have with the characters and the content. We touch on a LOT of different themes and ideas, but at a pop concert, the main idea is to have fun, to party – so we’re enjoying melding the two and involving the audience in the entertaining mayhem. We were also inspired by a lot of 90s pop groups that are doing comeback tours at the moment (ie. Vengaboys, S Club 7 – now 3) and how they strike a balance between being nostalgic and tragically funny. ALBUM PARTY is the ultimate pre-Christmas show to get you in the spirit. This is the show for people who want to dance, laugh, sing, and be walk out with that exhilarated feeling you get after a pop concert – strangely inspired and ready for more. We’ve added some Christmas flavour to the show to really bring that festive cheer, including a hit new single ‘Unwrap My Present’.”

You can have a listen to one of their songs Gas in my ass o line (and get the same earworm I’ve had for the past week) or check out their Better Best Possible Mannequin Challenge.

HOT TIP:  at 1pm this Saturday, iconic NZ Pop duo Tyla and Deni$ will be making their first public appearance together since 2009 in Cuba Mall at the little stage space by Left Bank Arcade.  !!


Review: Scarlet and gold

by librarykris on December 7, 2016 in Theatre

This play dramatises the real events of the 1912 Waihi goldminers’ strike which started in March and went through to November.  It follows the fortunes of the strikers’ families and parallels the struggle with the Suffragette movement in England.

Playwright Lorae Parry focuses much of the script on the women in the strikers’ families. (There are some weird token references to Maori that I think should have been left out.) The didactic script in the first half is lightened by singing and dancing although my preference is for the second half which is full of action. Director Kate JasonSmith, choreographer Jan Bolwell, and fight choreographer Ricky Dey have done a terrific job here. It’s chaotic, makes good use of the space, and is a great contrast for the levity in the first half. The play itself is complicated and sprawling with actors doubling and tripling (or more). They create distinct characters helped by the costumes (designers Pinky Agnew and Jocelyn Frances O’Kane with Sonia Costin assisting).

The cast are uniformly energetic in this demanding ensemble play. My highlights include: Lorae Parry as Jane Ashton, the banker’s quietly radical wife; Carmel McGlone as Annie Burgess the banker’s maid (very restrained with tiny facial expressions and subtle physical movements speaking volumes); the sweet scenes between Isobel MacKinnon and James Gordon (sweethearts Emma Beech and Thomas O’Connor respectively);  the stirring speech at the end by Emily Regtien as Kathleen Beech, followed by a beautiful version of a song arranged by Laughton Pattrick (#assumption) which I will not name because #spoiler.

This is another play to add to the growing number of contributed-to-early-Labour shows. While this is a script that wants to educate it succeeds because it’s so damn entertaining. Marvelous work.


Stand up love 

Freddy is a comedian and has a drinking problem. Ana wants him to stop. Their relationship has problems but they love each other. Isn’t that enough?

I find the messy set – a bed with a couch backed on to the bedhead plus living items strewn around – appealing, reflecting as it does the messy lives of the characters. Jonny Potts makes a passable drunk (passout-able?) and is pretty good at showing the compulsion for pushing other people away which is a feature of his character. Rachel Baker is self contained in her portrayal of Ana. This works especially well in the final scenes.  However she seems to swallow her words sometimes so even though I’m sitting close to the front I miss several of her lines. I like the direction by Adam Goodall – the space is used well, and the moments when the character connect are more poignant for the moments when they don’t. Unfortunately I’ve rather lost my appetite for love-should-be-enough-scripts so while the writing is smart and the performances good, I’m mostly disconnected from the whole thing. (For the opposite view please see this review from Wellington Reviews. I love that two so totally different experiences can be had from the same show.)

Wine Lips

Brit visits her ex-boyfriend Scotty backstage while he’s working a show. She brings the wine, he brings the unpleasant memories.

Tom Clarke and Karin McCracken have a lovely rapport and it’s easy to believe their characters were once together. Clarke as Scotty rushes about the stage, always smiling, putting a positive spin on things – at least at the start. McCracken as Brit is more hesitant, almost visibly steeling herself to be more confident in the face of Scotty’s energy. The script has them needling at each other in good fun and then tipping over into not so much fun. I start to worry halfway through if this is too theatre specific but as the show goes on I realise it could apply to any relationship between two people which has broken apart.  While they are working out how to relate to one another again, another character is working it on stage. Jacob Brown is Max, the performer ‘onstage’. Max represents Scotty and Brit in their early years of working in theatre – enthusiastic, willing to work long hours and perform in little known shows. Snippets of the onstage show blare out from the backstage speaker, usually heralding Brown’s frenetic dash backstage (onstage). Brown is wonderfully wide eyed in contrast to the other characters cynicism and provides some light relief while we wait to discover what went wrong in Brit and Scotty’s relationship. Stella Reid’s direction is excellent, ensuring that while the stage is busy we never lose track of what is going on.


Ngā mihi to Making Friends Collective for including contact details for a couple of support organisations in the programme for this well presented double bill. They write “These plays depict characters that experience the emotional stresses, negligence and many other consequences of bad relationships. As a result, these plays include potentially disturbing content.” It’s a positive move for audience confidence that companies presenting work of this nature recognise that it may be distressing for some.


About a month ago, we attended the opening of the Park Hotel where we ate amazing canapes from Sterling (which we have raved about before), and heard newly crowned mayor Justin Lester say that Wellington needs 1000 new hotel rooms to sustain growth (the Park Hotel has 137, fyi). We had a thoroughly excellent time, and were well pleased to hear that they’re doing their best to reinvigorate the  soulfree zone that is the Terrace. It was fun to get a tour through some of their rooms too and I have The Pavilion in mind if I ever get to host a fancy party.

So when the lovely people at the Park Hotel invited us to stay a night and produce a full review, we were more than happy to do it. Kris and I decided we’d have a girls’ night in because why should couples have all the hotel fun?

The night we checked in was the Friday a couple of days before the earthquake, so here’s the most important thing you need to know: the hotel is open and operating as normal. It has been assessed and the building is cleared as safe for occupancy following the earthquake.

We were promised an Executive King Studio but looking at the site now, I think we were in a Superior King Studio. Not to worry, there was plenty of space for five girls to flop over the bed, in the super comfy armchairs and deskchair and drink a little bubbly before dinner.

Picture stolen from their website because I suck at taking photos, basically

The hotel is an old 70s/80s office building but the inside is really nice. The front desk stocks Wellington products from Six Barrel Soda Co, Fix & Fogg and the Wellington Chocolate factory, and there’s a growing library shelf of books left behind by others. You need your key card to access your floor in the lift, which is great for security, but not so great when you have guests coming, and you have to plunge the room into darkness to take the key down to meet them. Luckily the doors are the more modern kind of key card entrance where you just have to wave the cards at them rather than the tricky insert, wait, pull out system.

The rooms at the Park Hotel have more personality than the beige bedspread stylings of too many hotels.  They have opening windows (though the handles on one of ours were broken), and while they’re not double-glazed, the Terrace and Lambton Quay are not known for being particularly rowdy at night. The interior of the room looks like it would get a solid 9/10 points from The Block judges, with a wood feature wall, copper accents and vaguely Scandi furniture. Importantly it had wine glasses and tumblers we could drink from, and you couldn’t hear people peeing in the bathroom, which is really nice.

Speaking of the bathroom, it was compact, but functional. We took a photo of an average size person in the bath for scale.

an average size person in a fairly small bathtub

The bed, meanwhile, was plenty big, and I bloody loved the little grey comforter on the end, perfect for napping under.

image of three people lying in bed wearing face masks

But before we had facials we had dinner downstairs in Sterling, which is quite lively on Friday nights now with post-work drinkers and then clever diners. I’d been haunting the online menu since we first made our plans, and I was determined to order a great big piece of beef for us to share. Imagine my sadness when I discovered they’d updated their menu! And then imagine my joy when it turned out that a bone-in roast was on special! So many feelings! So we got our 800 grams of meat and two sides for $70. In fact, the five of us ordered two starters (ostrich carpaccio and bruschetta with peas, sorrel and goat bacon – that goat bacon was fricking AMAZING), and five sides with our beef.

bruschetta and carpaccio

The pigs’ ears were much like calamari being chewy and deep fried, to be honest, but the other salads were nice but not especially noteable. The beef was fabulous though, and the wait staff didn’t bat an eye when I asked for the bone to go for my cats. All that food plus two bottles of red wine came to $224 for five people, which is pretty damn reasonable.


Back in the room we tried to figure out what the weird building in the distances was (turns out it’s the Wellington Club which everybody but us knew). We ordered more towels since we were doing beauty treatments and they arrived in four minutes flat. Excellent service. I went home to my own bed and cats sometime in the early morning, so I’ll let Kris pick up the narrative here about how she slept and breakfast in the morning. Take it away, Kris!

I was very ready for bed by the time Jo left. Lots of laughing, wine, and good food will do that to a woman. We’d had the blinds open all evening to look at the city lights. I was impressed by the amount of light they blocked out when I dropped them down. I can’t sleep unless the room is dark so this was good for me. With the windows closed it was really quiet. The bed was super comfortable with enough blankets that if there were two people in the bed with differing needs for warmth both people could be happy. I got a small sleep in the next day – although I could have slept for another hour I had a breakfast date to get to (note: standard checkout time is 11am, rather than 10am which is nice). After a quick shower (aerated shower head with good pressure) and I was back downstairs to Sterling for breakfast.

The breakfast-included menu is different to the regular restaurant menu. The day we were there a large group had got in before us so a couple of the dishes weren’t available. Not that it mattered to us. I went for the ham and cheese croissant. It was a perfect blend of buttery croissant, tasty ham, and melted cheese. J chose the toasted bagel with egg and avocado salad, and watercress. The egg and avocado is more of a mash than a salad. J started off eating it suspiciously and by the end had decided that they’d order it again.

I took J upstairs to see the room as they’d worked in the building when it was a office block. It turns out their desk used to be located where the desk in the room was! We also ran into someone else we knew who we hadn’t seen for a while. Wellington really is the best city for catching up with friends. Then it was checkout time and out onto Lambton Quay for some shopping.

Oh, but how’s this for burying the lead – we actually have a giveaway! So you too can have good times outside of your own bed, you can win a one night stay at the Park Hotel in a Superior Heron Studio, with two complimentary breakfasts at Sterling (valid between 4 December and 27 January 2017). Fab!

All you have to do is leave us a comment telling us why you want to stay at the Park Hotel by 5pm December 4. We’ll draw a winner at random (unless we decide that we absolutely love a story so much it has to win which we reserve the right to do).


More posts…

Preview: Some shows and a party

by librarykris November 29, 2016

Wow this week is FULL of shows and there’s a party at the end of it. Let’s go! Hudson & Halls is still going strong at the Hannah Playhouse. I loved it, Mr Goulter loved it, the Wellington Theatre Awards judges loved it. Don’t miss it. Across the road at BATS Theatre Musique Romantique, Stand […]

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Review: Hudson and Halls Live

by Mr Goulter November 20, 2016

Hudson & Halls Live!‘s Wellington season at the Hannah Playhouse began with an usher  welcoming crowds to the performance, assuring them the theatre had been certified quake-safe, and explaining that some years after the time in which the play was set, one of the protagonists would die of cancer and the other would take his own life.   […]

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After the quake

by Tom November 18, 2016

These are trying and chaotic times, but I hope everyone’s hanging in there. Social media means that there’s more information available than ever before, but also that there’s a lot of misinformation and confusion, so we thought we’d put up a quick post to help you find the most official sources. Civil Defence’s WREMO page and their […]

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Preview: Hudson and Halls

by librarykris November 16, 2016

Silo Theatre is bringing last year’s Auckland festive hit “Hudson and Halls” to the Hannah Playhouse. I’ve heard positive reviews from my Auckland friends and I’m so looking forward to seeing it when it’s down here. Peter Hudson and David Halls were on New Zealand television from 1976-1986 with a cooking show that included camp […]

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Winning corner

by Tom November 12, 2016

The New Zealand Architecture Awards were announced today, and while there are few Wellington projects on the list, one prominent development stands out. Zavos Corner by Parsonson Architects Ltd, a low-rise apartment complex on the corner of Pirie and Brougham streets in Mt Victoria, won the Sir Ian Athfield Award for Housing. The judges praised it […]

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LitCrawl 2016

by librarykris November 11, 2016

This Saturday literature lovers will be running from venue to venue hoping to catch their favourite writers at LitCrawl 2016. Based on the concept of a pub crawl but with more words (and (maybe?) fewer drunken stumbles) the event is in its third year. There are 18 venues for the crawl this year plus the After Party at […]

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