The Supper Club - Reviewed by Madelaine Empson | Regional News Connecting Wellington

The Supper Club

Created by: Ali Harper

Directed by: Ian Harman

Running at Circa Theatre until 17th Feb 2024

Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson

Imagine an old, abandoned Supper Club. The ghosts of grandeur haunt every cobwebbed corner, the hopes and dreams once nurtured within now scattered like boa feathers in the wind. But with Tom McLeod and The Jazz Hot Supper Club Band, New Zealand songstress Ali Harper is about to restore The Supper Club to its former glory, embodying the various singers whose echoes still reverberate through its storied, sequined past.

As characters like the happy-go-lucky English girly and the sharp, smouldering German superstar, Harper trills, thrills, and traverses everything from Cole Porter’s It’s De-Lovely to Édith Piaf’s Non, je ne regrette rien to Madonna’s Material Girl. Because anything can (and does!) happen in this fabulous production, I don’t wish to spoil any further specifics or surprises… only to give you a taste of the tantalising talent within.

First up, there’s Harper, whose respect and reverence for the muses she inhabits is palpable. With charm, charisma, and chops for days, she is, quite simply, sensational.

Then we have that phenomenal band, with musical director Tom McLeod on arrangements and piano, Blair Latham on saxophone, clarinet, guitar, and flute, Olivia Campion on percussion, and Scott Maynard on double bass. A tight, cohesive unit in their own right, when paired with Harper, their joy is infectious, their chemistry crackling. They bounce off each other like reflections from a disco ball.

Everything director Ian Harman touches turns to gold. As set and costume designer to boot, he’s created the world where all this magic takes place. Meticulous details abound, from the crystal glasses that once would have housed the finest cognac to the way Harper’s dazzling black gown catches the light.

And speaking of light, Rich Tucker’s moody, glam lighting scheme brings this Supper Club to life, crafting intimate moments while highlighting the showstopping spectacle of it all in equal measure. The epitome of ambience.

The Supper Club? A delightful, delicious, de-lovely escape.

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