The Soldier’s Tale — ‘Sublime’ Says Ralph McAllister

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I first saw The Soldier’s Tale in in 1963 in Wellington’s Town hall chamber theatre, says Ralph McAllister

Paraparaumu, NZ, 24 February 2021, The Soldier’s Tale, presented by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in association with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court

Raymond Boyce designs,Peter Zwartz conducting,Les Cleveland,Tim Eliott and Auton Low brought the theatrical side of this wonderful Stravinski  chamber piece to life.

I remember that production to this day.

It was austere and minimal,much akin to the world of Bertolt Brecht whose work had been introduced to Wellington through Nola Millar and her Unity Theatre productions of Mother Courage and Good Woman of Setzuan.

National tour begins at Te Raukura ki Kāpiti

This new interpretation of The Soldier’s Tale which began a national tour this week at Te Raukura ki Kāpiti (Kāpiti Performing Arts Centre) is neither minimal nor austere.

It is lavish .

Think Netflix on Stage!

The NZSO, major sponsor New Zealand Herald, have spared us nothing.

We get a septet on stage from the orchestra recreating all the dynamic varieties of Stravinski’s score ,from tangos to ragtime through waltz and choral.

Add to that the contribution from the Royal New Zealand Ballet whose young dancers leave you breathless as they perform sublimely on a sixpence, or is it a farthing of a space .

Saun Kelly

Choreographer in Residence Shaun James Kelly deserves a medal of his own for his faith and demands on his dancers Leonora Voigtlander and Jamie Delmonte.

There is so much more

Peter Hayden as The Narrator leads The Soldier,Sepelini Mua’au,and The Devil,Sophie Hambleton through the storyline with a security of delivery that screams experience.

Speaking of which, Hambleton proves yet again, her virtuosic range as her Devil manipulates puppets, switches from old man to card sharp gambler and a wicked witch which may have been her secret tribute to Wizard of Oz.

But the final accolades must surely go to Director Sara Brodie whose concepts realised by Donna Jefferis (costume),Daniel Wilson (lighting) and Emma Bennetts (operator), bring a magical world to us in its all too short 60 minutes.

Sara Brodie

This will rank as one of her finest hours.

The mellifluousness of character swapping,props and costume changes,scenes of art gallery beauty,kept the packed premiere audience enthralled.

Does this Tale stand up to international standards?

Don’t even ask.

As I said earlier I remember 1963 to this day, time to move over and include new member, 2021.

A wonderful evening which you would be crazy to miss.

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