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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A hobbit, an actor, and a vixen all walk into a bar ...

Well I can just get this post in under the wire, and bookend the month of March nicely with a post on its first and last days. This wasn't intentional, mind you, as I've been wanting to post about many of the things I've got up to in these past few weeks. But, as with my growing stack of unread books (many of them borrowed from friends), so too has my progressively longer list of blog drafts (all original, none borrowed from friends) been ignored recently.

So in rapid-fire procession, I'll rattle off a list of things I've found interesting or done that are newsworthy (heh) over the last few weeks, before getting down to the main topic of this post.

Guillermo del Toro, director for the two upcoming Hobbit films, arrived in town just over a week ago. He was spotted in a local bookstore, buying up graphic novels, which are one of his passions. According to the article, Mr. del Toro has two homes in the Los Angeles area: one for living in, the other for storing his massive collection of graphic novels and other books. Suddenly, I don't feel so bad about my stacks of books which currently invade just the odd bit of free tabletop space in the flat! But I'll bet Guillermo is better about actually reading his books than I am, and he's got two whole movies to direct ...

Needless to say, I am excited about the prospect of experiencing life in New Zealand whilst they shoot the next two Middle Earth movies here. There's always the chance for a celebrity sighting anywhere in the Wellywood region. Odds-on favourite sites are: Molly Malone's, The Green Parrot Cafe and especially the Dom Post Ferry between downtown and Eastbourne, should Sir Ian McKellen decide to live out there again. But if/when I see any famous elves, hobbits, wizards, gollums or otherwise, I'll not gush and fawn all over them like some sort of tourist! I will, however, do my level best to get out to some of the shooting locations to see some of the sets - especially The Shire, once it's rebuilt.

Speaking of celebrities, a personal favourite of mine is the British actor Peter Davison. He'll be a guest of honour at this weekend's Armageddon Expo, which takes place here in Wellington after being in Christchurch last week. He earned his SciFi 'street cred' by playing one of many incarnations of "The Doctor" on the original series run of BBC's Doctor Who. I knew him best as "Tristan Farnon" on the All Creatures Great and Small series, also from the BBC. I love SciFi cons and haven't been to one in a while, so if I can con (get it?) any of my geeky friends to go with me, it'd be fun to see Mr. Davison in person as well as see what else emerges from the woodwork.

In other news, I am now officially a WIT member and, although I haven't had my official stage debut in any shows yet, I am happy to finally be able to partake in Tuesday Training and continue to learn all I can about this most enthralling way to entertain and be entertained. I have also been elected to the post of Treasurer for WIT, in which my first official act was to declare myself ineligible to be Treasurer! It's a long story, but once elected into the post I soon realized, in going over WIT's bank records and membership rosters, that I had never in fact been voted in to the club nor paid any membership fee. I blew the whistle on myself, was then briefly stood down, hastily granted membership by the committee, seconded into the role of Acting Treasurer, and finally then as an official WITster I was re-voted into the position of Treasurer in a second general meeting!

Yeah, I know, I'm sure Hollywood is all over that story for the official screenplay rights (I'd like to request that Ethan Hawke play my role). But that experience, combined with my 'unofficial' and truly impromptu stage debut with WIT in last year's New Zealand Improvisation Festival, has made for a very interesting start for my life in WIT!

What I wanted to write about most, though, was the opera I saw last Friday night. It's called The Cunning Little Vixen, written by Leoš Janácek. A friend of mine from WIT, Robbie, did the lighting design for this production so that's how I heard about this opera. The other two operas I've seen here in Wellington were both at the St. James Theatre so of course I was surprised to find out there was another opera company in town, known as Nimby. The theatre they use for performances is a building called the Salvation Army Citadel, which sounds like some sort of place where they, well... not fight to the death, as it's the Salvation Army! Perhaps it's a place where they give until it hurts?

Anyways, it's a building I've driven by dozens of times - even parked outside it once or twice, but I've always failed to take a good look at it. It turned out to be a wonderful venue for this opera, as the acoustics were great where I was sitting, which was the back row of the balcony section. There was a nice little stage and there was a 5-piece chamber orchestra playing for this production of Vixen. I'm not sure if that's a function of the piece itself or is a reflection of the fact that this is a smaller, up-and-coming operatic company that is working out of a littler theatre.

The cast were all brilliant, especially the female lead, one Kate Lineham. She channelled the spirit of the title role expertly, and it didn't hurt that the cast's costumes were really bright and original. There was some animated art that was woven in seamlessly with the production and it served to really enchant the place and enhance the experience of this opera. I also thought the supporting women in the cast were particularly strong, and their positive energy and quirky characterisations meant they stole lots of scenes.

I had never taken in an opera prior to moving to Wellington, largely because it was something that never interested me. But after seeing Turandot, my first opera, I became instantly hooked, as did my friend Karen who attended with me, also at her first opera. Now that I have experienced one of Nimby's productions as well, I know that we in Wellington are spoilt for choice when it comes to great opera, and I'll certainly be in the audience again!


Blogger Sandjoy said...

I enjoyed reading about del Toro and WIT (congratulations!). But, OMG, Peter Davison!?!? Tristan himself! How great is that?!

Much love

5:16 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Thanks mom! I hope I can find the time to see him at the Expo on Saturday, will let you know.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brandon. Kirsten and I actually saw Jose Carreras perform at the Ferguson Center last week. It was pretty surreal to say the least. No microphone was needed...

5:03 PM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

That's outstanding, Robb! So glad you got to see him. He was actually here in New Zealand this past January and a friend of mine in the orchestra got to play with him in a concert. She said he was amazing!

I never did make it to a show at the Ferguson Center, either, but I hear it's a great venue. Have a good weekend, Robb!

5:41 PM  

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