JENNIFER IN THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING
Following a critically-acclaimed and sold-out season in the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival, plus awards for Excellence and Best Ensemble at the 2015 Auckland Theatre Awards, Silo Theatre's The Book of Everything will return to Q Theatre in Auckland on 12-25 February 2016. Click here to book.
The show will then go on tour:
4-5 March - New Plymouth
TSB Showplace – book
8-9 March – Palmerston North
Regent on Broadway – book
12-13 March – Napier
Municipal Theatre – book
18-19 March – Hamilton
Founders Theatre – book
Jennifer is reprising her role as Auntie Pie, alongside Amanda Billing, Michelle Blundell, Patrick Carroll, Stephen Lovatt, Dan Musgrove, Rima Te Wiata, and Amanda Tito, with direction by Sophie Roberts, and design by John Verryt, Kirsty Cameron, Thomas Press, and Sean Lynch. The play was adapted by Richard Tulloch from the novel by Guus Kuijer.
" … superbly presented … a truly great show … I know, I'm raving. I don't always, not by any means. But this one, I loved" (Simon Wilson, Metro)
" … marvellously complex and devastatingly simple, summing up some of life's most difficult issues in a handful of words. … It is significant. It is needed. It is everything" (Sam Brooks, Pantograph Punch)
"Jennifer Ward-Lealand is lovable, just slightly odd Auntie Pic (pronouned Pee), her candour representing the rise of the ensuing battle for women's rights in a man's world … It is quite the cerebral workout, albeit so entertaining that said workout is an ease and a pleasure; the two hours fairly fly by" (Nik Smythe, Theatreview)
JENNIFER DIRECTED THE CHOICE
Jennifer directed The Choice by Darlene Mohekey and Jess Sayer, now on at the Lido Lounge at The Blue Baths in Rotorua, 22 January–26 February 2016. Click here for the press release; click here to book.
Theatre Scenes: "Wickedly written, slickly performed and cleverly directed to parody the current talent show phenomenon that dominates our airwaves, The Choice is undoubtedly the funniest show I've seen for a long, long time. … The collective skill, enthusiasm and wit displayed by the talented bunch on stage demonstrated sheer versatility and professionalism, making it an inspiration and joy to watch. Director Jennifer Ward-Lealand's detailed attention to character development, as well her uncanny ability to curate the show with nicely timed crescendos and de-crescendos, helped take us as audience members on an entertaining, as well as emotional journey, due to its subtle and intelligent execution".
Theatreview: "With a cast of 6 talented and versatile performers, this weird and wonderful show is an entertaining winner. … performers show their versatility with amazing singing and dancing talents. … the entire show is absolutely 'Choice'. It is a most entertaining evening".
Forget X-Factor, forget New Zealand's Got Talent. This is The Choice – a weirdly wonderful talent show unlike any other. Laugh, cry and cringe till you can't cringe no more, as five fearless actors take on all of the characters you love and those you love to hate. Broadcast live on air (but not really), this immersive new show leaves you, the live studio audience, to select the winner each night.
Featuring choreography by Taiaroa Royal, The Choice will star a cast of Blue Baths favourites including Jay Chasland, Rutene Spooner, Bronwyn Turei, Aaron Ward, Tainui Kuru, and musical director Darlene Mohekey.
MICHAEL DIRECTING 800 WORDS
Michael is directing episodes 2.3 and 2.4 of 800 Words for South Pacific Pictures/Seven Productions. It stars Erik Thomson, Melina Vidler, and Benso Jack Anthony. Click here for info.
MICHAEL TO DIRECT KING LEAR
Michael is directing King Lear for Circa Theatre (Wellington), 14 May-18 June 2016.
"Circa Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary in spectacular style, proudly presenting four theatre kings: Lear, Shakespeare, Henwood, and Hurst.
Four hundred years after Shakespeare's death, Ray Henwood, honoured among New Zealand's finest actors, takes on one of the pinnacle theatre roles of all times – King Lear. Henwood will play this colossal figure under the direction of acclaimed Shakespeare master Michael Hurst in his exciting directorial debut at Circa Theatre."
Click here for more info and to book.
JENNIFER PLAYING DONNA RAFFERTY IN DIRTY LAUNDRY
Jennifer is heading up the cast of the new drama series Dirty Laundry, now being filmed, to air on TVOne later this year. Tai Berdinner-Blades, Tim Carlsen, and Victoria MacCulloch are playing her children.
From the New Zealand Herald:
"In the series, Ward-Lealand's character Donna has been channelling ill-gotten gains through various busniesses for years, but when the police cart her off to the slammer, the revelation mum is a doyenne of crime comes as a complete surprise to her family.
"The shell-shocked Raffertys are left to fend for themselves and face the possibility they can't afford their comfortable middle-class lifestyle".
Click here for the whole article.
MICHAEL VOICES CAPTAIN REINER IN LOST HOPE
Michael is the voice of Captain Reiner in animated sci-fi comedy Lost Hope. The series is in development and crowd-funding on Kickstarter. Click here for more about Lost Hope, or here to donate.
MICHAEL VOICES EMPEROR IZARO IN PATH OF EXILE VIDEO GAME
Michael is the voice of Emperor Izaro in the Path of Exile: Ascendancy expansion pack to be released in March 2016. "Entombed in his own creation, Emperor Izaro lives on. With eternal patience, he is waiting for his invitation to be answered". Learn more here; click here to begin playing Path of Exile.
MICHAEL DIRECTED WESTSIDE
In October through December 2015, Michael directed episodes 3, 4, 7 and 8 of the second season of Westside, the prequel of Outrageous Fortune. It stars Antonia Prebble, David De Lautour, Dan Musgrove, and Esther Stephens.
Click here for info.
MICHAEL DIRECTED ASH VS. EVIL DEAD
Starz premiered Ash vs Evil Dead in more than 100 countries on Halloween, including the UK (Virgin Media), New Zealand (The Zone), Australia (Stan.), Canada (Super Channel), Scandinavia (C More), Latin America/Brazil (Fox Play), and Middle East/North Africa (STARZ Play Arabia). In New Zealand, it is now also available to stream on Neon.
Michael directed episode 6 'The Killer of Killers' (which aired 5 December) and 7 'Fire in the Hole' (which aired 12 December).
'The Killer of Killers'
Rolling Stone: "The splatstick show may have just served up its best – and bloodiest – episode yet … Directed by Michael Hurst, whose resume is full of rollicking genre fare … it's the most fun you'll have in 24 minutes this weekend".
The Movie Waffler: "director Michael Hurst does a great job of emulating Raimi's kinetic style … with Hurst returning for next week's episode, the signs are good!"
The Nerd Element: "Hurst has a dynamic style that matches the material provided by episode writer Nate Crocker. The episode moves so rapidly that it was hard to believe nearly 30 minutes had passed when it was over. Add in a lot of practical effects and terrific one-liners, and the series continues to fire on all cylinders".
Collider: " … director Michael Hurst nailed the big fight scene in this episode".
'Fire in the Hole'
Vulture: "Michael Hurst returns with more crackerjack directing … Between his two episodes, Michael Hurst has staged three lo-fi monster fights that are just brilliant for this show"
IGN: "Still aided by director Michael Hurst … and his skill for action pieces, 'Fire in the Hole' … pulled things together nicely for a bloody great finish".
Collider: "Director Michael Hurst just nailed another episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead".
The show is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell and showrunner Craig DiGregorio, and stars Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, and Jill Marie Jones.
WATCH TATAU ONLINE
Michael directed episodes 6 and 7 of 8-episode fantasy/drama series Tatau, produced by Touchpaper TV and South Pacific Pictures for BBC Three (UK) and BBC America (USA).
The series has finished its run in the UK (where it is now available on dvd), and is available on demand in the US through many cable companies and digital platforms (such as Amazon and iTunes). Click here to find out where you can watch it. In New Zealand, it is available on Neon.
Tatau was written by Richard Zajdlic and stars Joe Layton and Theo Barklem-Biggs, with Barry Atsma, Shushila Takao, Cian Elyse White, Tai Berdinner-Blades, Temuera Morrison, Alex Tarrant, Rawiri Jobe, Kirk Torrance and Rangimoana Taylor. It was filmed September-December 2014, in The Cook Islands and New Zealand. See the show's Facebook page.
Tagata Pasifika did a behind-the-scenes story on the filming of Tatau on The Cook Islands, including scenes of Michael directing; watch it below.
JENNIFER AND MICHAEL GUEST STAR IN TERRY TEO
Jennifer plays Barbara Bertinelli in the third episode of Terry Teo, a revival of the classic Kiwi TV show, filmed early November 2014. Michael plays Cornelius Jones in one episode, filmed mid-December. The show will air on TV2.
Click here for info.