The Illusionists 2.0 in Auckland

The Illusionists 2.0

Usually when a show returns to a city like Auckland so soon after its original run there is little redeeming on offer, but The Illusionists 2.0 (the first edition of which originally charmed Auckland in 2013) mixes something old with something new. With added audience interaction and even a third dimension, the familiar set up continues – a team of some of the world’s greatest magicians together for what could be described as the world’s biggest magic variety show.

On entry you’re given a pair of 3D glasses and an envelope which reads DO NOT OPEN. These will both come in handy later in the show, and while I can say that the contents of the envelope turn out to be very satisfying I did find the 3D effect a bit of a gimmick. It’s used far too sparingly through the show and doesn’t really add much to the experience.

Speaking of the experience, this one is top quality. I recently wrote about how Cirque du Soleil can still make modern audiences gasp from excitement and shock, and The Illusionists does the same thing. I lost count of the number of times the couple in front of me were huddled together, watching the action on stage through their fingers. Or the woman behind me loudly asking anyone who would listen “how did they do that?!” It’s impressive stuff.

There’s a little here for everyone; The Trickster returns, causing mischief and playing with the audience (don’t sit in the front if you don’t want to be part of the show). The Warrior’s weaponry and martial arts skill made for some terrifying close calls with performers and audience members alike. The Deceptionist captures the essence of big, flashy, Vegas-style stunt magic and brings it roaring to life in The Civic auditorium. The beauty of this format is that none of the styles of magic become too repetitive, too stale. Before you can figure out how they’re pulling off the tricks in front of you a new performer is on stage with an all new mind-blowing stunt. This is a magic show for the short attention spans of the News Feed-refreshing social media generation.

The Illusionists 2.0 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, because it doesn’t have to. The premise of the original show was so good that with a refreshed lineup it was more than ready to head on the road again. Complete with a new lineup, new set, new tricks and new surprises this show will more than deliver its share of glitz, music, drama, stunts and, of course, magic.

The Illusionists 2.0
Until September 13
The Civic, Auckland
Tickets from Ticketmaster

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The Cirque spell continues

totem

We’re pretty lucky to live in a city that increasingly lives up to its tagline. Sometimes it’s hard not to appreciate that the Show Never Stops. This year Cirque du Soleil’s Totem production stops off in Auckland, making it the seventh Cirque show to wow crowds here.

If you’re not familiar with Cirque du Soleil… where the hell have you been? 30 years ago, at a time when circuses were dying off and audiences were increasingly turning off to the horrible abuses of animal performances some clever chaps from Canada decided to create a circus company dedicated to age old circus arts combined with all the best dance, music, performance and visuals from around the world and throughout history. It could’ve gone very wrong but the company had gone on to become a multi-million dollar business and (almost) perfect track record of dazzling shows.

In Totem, Cirque has created a show exploring the origins of humanity and evolution from sea-dwelling creature to cellphone-toting, sunbathing intelligent people. Pretty ambitious stuff for a circus, really. The show takes place beneath the Grand Chapiteau (Cirque’s fancy shmancy name for a tent), which adds an extra layer of authenticity. There’s something a circus tent brings to a performance that you can’t get from an arena show (looking at you, Saltimbanco and Michael Jackson: Immortal).

The stage is designed to resemble a turtle, one of the oldest creatures on earth and a symbol of life in the seas and on land. The set is shockingly state-of-the-art for what you’d expect to find in a big tent in Ellerslie, morphing and twisting and bending as the story demands.3D projection turns the stage floor into everything from an erupting volcano to a calm bay, all while reacting to the casts movements in real time. You can tell there is money here.

The show starts with either a man-shaped disco ball, or a man dipped in glitter descending from above and ignite the “spark of life” (honestly, Cirque are the masters and colourfully explaining how their acts fit together). Once Mr Sparkles gets the show started the outer layer of the turtle shell is suddenly whisked away to show a skeleton set which houses some amazing acrobatics and trampolining.

What follows can only be described as awesome. You want buff Johnny Bravo-like men swinging from ropes above you? Check. Want some Native American woman hanging from her neck to a man spinning on roller skates spinning in circles so fast it’s a blur? Check. After some TRON-esque South American men jumping high into the air on tiny poles balanced on their castmates’ shoulders? Check. People on three metre unicycles flicking metal bowls on to each other’s heads choreographed to music? Check.

I could go on but a Cirque du Soleil production is really one of those things that can’t adequately be described by words. It’s a see it for yourself kind of deal. These days it sometimes it feels like we’ve seen everything before, so it’s reassuring to know that there are still things in this world that can surprise and shock people. Hearing thousands of people gasp at once is something that doesn’t happen enough anymore.

Totem continues the Cirque du Soleil tradition of amazing, see-it-to-believe-it, performances. See it, Auckland, see it. And if you miss it, there should be another one just around the corner.

PS: It’s gotta be good, even dear old John key took time out from the election to head along.

JK TOTEM

Auckland Cirque du Soleil productions:

Alegria (2001)
Quidam (2005)
– Varekai (2007)
Dralion (2009)
Saltimbanco, arena version (2011)
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour (2013)
Totem (2014)

Geeks descend on Wellington for Armageddon

Armageddon Wellington

Moot contributor Tom McCormack heads to Wellington Armageddon to see what the annual geekfest has on offer.

Game of Thrones, The Avengers, Arrow, X-Men, Spiderman, Pokémon, The Dark Knight.

There’s no denying it. Being a geek is not only cool, but mainstream as well.
And where better to be with like minded people and buy cool geek stuff than Armageddon – a convention dedicated to what has become the most popular subculture around.

For those new to Armageddon, it’s a convention taking place in cities across New Zealand for all things television, film and anime. With guests from television shows and movies drawing in the crowds it’s the stalls and interactive activity that get you to stay for the day. Fear not! You may leave with your wallet a little lighter but if you’re a fan of pop culture it’ll all be worth it.

My first impression when we arrived? PACKED. You could hardly move let alone see more than a few metres in front of you. Movement was made even more difficult by fans dressed up in huge costumes; but you have to stop and admire the amount of sheer effort that went into some of the outfits. And these weren’t just twenty-five year old men in My Little Pony outfits (although that box was also ticked) these were people of all ages getting involved in their favourite fandoms. From baby Jedi to senior Iron Man, many of the kids and adults in the crowd were dressing up and getting into it. The flashes of cameras followed some of the more well known characters around the venue.

I was mainly there for the Arrow guests so we quickly lined up and managed to score a photo with all three of the Arrow stars, sticking around afterwards to talk to them for so long that security had to usher us away. With no panel scheduled for Saturday it was our only chance to speak to them and they were more than happy to stop and have a conversation.

There was no shortage of stalls selling anything from steampunk jewellery, films, posters for seemingly any interest, clothes, anime soft toys, TV show replicas and any pop culture memorabilia you could imagine. On the food front there was a variety of delicious (albeit unhealthy foods) like mouth watering donuts, sizzling hotdogs and candy. Lots of candy.  The Mighty Ape stall was understandably popular – they were running a $100 giveaway.  The number of stalls this year was impressive, managing to run the entire outer ring of Westpac Stadium.

Armageddon is definitely an event for people of all ages, there’s a zombie maze and air gun shooting for the kids, alcohol stands for adults and guest panels and shops for everybody!

The Monday group panels are highly recommended, especially as its a holiday so there’s a convenient excuse to get off work. Wellington Armageddon is an enjoyable experience not to be missed.

Armageddon comes to Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds 24-27 October 2014.
Find out more here.

Shadowland comes to The Civic

 

Shadowland

Dance choreography used to create an epic shadow cast you’ll have to see to believe!

How cool does that sound? For the first time in New Zealand the USA’s talented Pilobolus Dance Theatre company brings it’s enchanting tale of illusion and dance to the Auckland stage.

Get lost in the whimsical world of a young girl’s mind as she thinks about life and the impending responsibility of growing up. The shadows on her bedroom wall beckon her forward, beyond the constraints of the real world and into Shadowland.

Find out more on the Shadowland website.

Shadowland
The Civic, Auckland
Tuesday 3 – Sunday 8 June, 2014
Buy tickets online here

Documentary Edge Festival is coming

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 4.43.39 pm

Guys, who doesn’t like a good doco? The Documentary Edge Festival is the best time of year for us to check out the world’s best documentaries, and luckily we’re spoilt for choice with this year’s line up looking as impressive as ever. The programme features a stunning 58 films from all around the world, but one of the highlights is sure to be the opening night premiere of Erebus: Operation Overdue, a New Zealand film about the tragic loss of Air New Zealand Flight 901 when it collided with Mt. Erebus in Antarctica. The film is a highly anticipated feature of the festival which TVNZ Documentary Commissioner Jude Callen describes as “a powerfully emotional account of one of the darkest moments in New Zealand history.”

Another highlight will definitely be God Loves Uganda, a movie from Academy Award-winner Roger Ross Williams which looks at the role of the American Evangelical movement in fuelling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. This will close out the festival this year.

For a full list of films, head to the Documentary Edge Festival website and be sure to get your tickets now!

Documentary Edge Festival

Auckland (21 May – 2 June 2014)
Q, 305 Queen Street, Auckland Central

Wellington (5 – 15 June 2014)
The Roxy, 5 Park Road, Miramar

Big Day Out NZ 2014 line up revealed

Randa

Auckland’s biggest music festival roars back into life after taking 2013 off! The epic line up has been announced and it’s an awesome mix of new and old from across the genre spectrum. Moving to a new home at Western Springs Stadium sounds like it’s going to make this year’s Big Day Out a landmark event, with new attractions, all new stages and more awesome music. Check out the line up below:

  • Pearl Jam
  • Arcade Fire
  • Blur
  • Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion
  • Major Lazer
  • Steve Angello
  • The Lumineers
  • Tame Impala
  • Dillon Francis
  • Mac Miller
  • Ghost
  • Grouplove
  • Flosstradamus
  • Portugal. The Man
  • Toro Y Moi
  • DIIV
  • The Naked And Famous
  • Mudhoney
  • The 1975
  • The Phoenix Foundation
  • SJD
  • P-Money
  • Ladi6
  • Beastwars
  • Concord Dawn 
  • Clap Clap Riot
  • Kody Nielson
  • Randa
  • PleasePlease

Boo there’s no Lorde on the poster, especially after her epically well-received last-minute performance at Splendour in the Grass but it’s a pretty strong line up as it is and certainly one worthy of this grand return of an old music friend.

Big Day Out 2014
Friday 17 January 2014
Western Springs Stadium, Auckland

Tickets
10,000 earlybird tickets will be available from 9am Monday 12 August for $165 from bigdayout.com.
Once these run out general tickets will be on sale for $185 from bigdayout.com
There are no surcharges or booking fees on any of these tickets, apart from credit card fees.

  

Beyonce Auckland Show 2013

UPDATED: Beyonce Live In Auckland 2013

Beyonce Auckland Show 2013

UPDATED: FOUR SHOWS ANNOUNCED.

A FOURTH show has been added, ticket details below. Get in quick, Beyonce’s previous three dates sold out in minutes!

Who run the world? Beyonce. After years of anticipation the global superstar is finally coming to New Zealand for two shows only at Auckland’s Vector Arena. Tickets for the fan club presale to Beyonce’s The Mrs Carter Show World Tour sold out in a gobsmacking 40 seconds so these will be among the hottest tickets in town. Mark the sale dates in your phones, these tickets will sell out in no time.

Beyonce – The Mrs Carter Show World Tour
Wendesday October 16, Thursday October 17, Friday October 18 & Saturday October 19 2013
Vector Arena, Auckland

BeyHive Fan Club Presale – Friday 9 August at 11am
MasterCard Presale – Monday 12 August at 11am
Live Nation Presale – Tuesday 13 August at 11am
My Ticketmaster Presale – Wednesday 14 August at 11am
General ticket sales – Thursday 15 August at 9am
Tickets from Ticketmaster.

The star has recently given birth to baby Blue Ivy Carter with superstar rapper husband Jay-Z. No word on whether either will accompany her to Auckland.

Beyonce on the roster makes for an even more crowded few months  at Vector Arena. The venue is slated to host a Cirque du Soleil show, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Fleetwood Mac, Rihanna, One Direction and more.

IGGY AZALEA will be opening for Beyonce in Auckland.

Will you be going to Beyonce’s first NZ shows?