Described by festival director, Philip Tremewan, as a “festival that highlights new work”, the Festival of Colour lived up to its reputation on its first day with sell out performances of two world premieres.
Rita and Douglas premiered in Queenstown, also marking the first time the Festival of Colour has run a season in the neighbouring town. With Jennifer Ward-Lealand as Rita Angus and Michael Houstoun playing the works of Douglas Lilburn, the audience were treated to a very moving performance. “It’s a very beautiful piece of work about Rita’s life and work and relationship with Douglas that really moves the audience,” said Tremewan. “ It was very poignant and Jennifer was just superb while throughout all these iconic paintings were coming up reflecting the mood of the moment.” Rita and Douglas will have two performances at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Saturday 16April.
Riverside Drive, written by Graeme Tetley and directed by Sarah Brodie was received to wild applause for its cast of young (and not so young!) locals. A huge play evoking the full range of emotions, it tells the story of life as a teenager and the now infamous Mazengarb Report in the 1950s. Riverside Drive will play sold out performances over five nights of the Festival.
Belgian singer, Micheline van Hautem treated evening audiences to a wonderfully theatrical performance of songs of fellow countryman Jacques Brel, leaving them in now doubt why she sells out all over the world.
Earlier in the day, a powhiri from Ngai Tahu launched the Festival at the giant pouwhenua billboards on the Lake Wanaka waterfront. The music programme opened in the Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace with Elixir who took the audience through a magical programme that ranged from opera to folk music, featuring the spectacular vocals of well-known soprano, Kate Lineham. The pouwhenua artists then discussed their works, their inspiration and influences, chaired by Radio New Zealand National’s Lynn Freeman.
The Festival of Colour continues until 17 April 2011 with tickets still available for a number of shows in Wanaka, Queenstown, Cromwell and Glenorchy. The Festival is generously supported byCentral Lakes Trust, Otago Community Trust, Creative New Zealand and Aurora. For further information and ticket sales, visit www.festivalofcolour.co.nz.