MICHAEL DIRECTING, JENNIFER STARRING IN LYSISTRATA
Michael is adapting and directing Aristophanes' Lysistrata for Auckland Theatre Company, at Q Theatre from 30 June 2015. It will star Jennifer, Amanda Billing, Sia Trokenheim, Darien Takle, Hannah Tasker-Poland, Cameron Rhodes, Fasitua Amosa, Andrew Grainger, Paul Glover, Lucinda Hare and Nomi Cohen, with design by Rachel Walker, choreography by Shona McCullagh, music by John Gibson, and costumes by Troy Garton. Click here for info and to book.
To convince their men folk to end the Peloponnesian War, Lysistrata encourages the women of Athens and Sparta to abstain from sex with their husbands and partners. This strategy leads to an all-out war between the sexes and some hard bargaining from the boys, but first the women have to overcome some challenges too, not least the call of their own desires.
Michael and his creative team unleash their talents on another sensationally sexy stage spectacular, breathing fresh life into Aristophanes' timeless text. Provocative, risqué and as relevant as ever.
JENNIFER STARRING IN RUPERT
Jennifer is playing Anna Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in the Auckland Theatre Company production of Rupert by David Williamson, at Q Theatre from 25 June 2015. Also featuring Stuart Devenie, Stephen Lovatt, Simon Prast, Adam Gardiner, Hera Dunleavy, Damien Avery, and Arlo MacDiarmid, directed by Colin McColl.
Theatreview: "optimum clarity within a wholly complex and relentlessly forward-moving tale. The excellent ensemble cast comes to the party ... Production-wise it's a veritable Hollywood-style variety show complete with intermittent Sinatra song-and-dance numbers, choreographed in classic glitzy cabaret style".
NZ Herald: "It's fun seeing a large cast of experienced talent being put through their comic paces ... Hugely entertaining"
Metro: "There are some brilliant cameos ... A wigged Jennifer Ward-Lealand makes for an uncanny Rebekah Brooks ... Rupert entertains while it informs ... it's entertainment"
Theatre Scenes: "Rupert encapsulates a multitude of genres – it's a story, biography, cabaret, comedy, adventure, cartoon, love stories, political thriller ... even the odd hiccup with corpsing, weird teeth and dropped eyebrows were cleverly and nimbly incorporated into the hilarity being dished out, gems which only live theatre can provide ... The show is pure entertainment"
Jennifer will be on TVNZ's Good Morning on Tuesday 30 June to talk about Rupert.
Rupert Murdoch, the most powerful media magnate in modern history, takes a cabaret-style romp down memory lane to give us his cleverly crafted version of his life. Watch as Rupert tap-dances his way to early success across the ditch, discos towards his big American breakthrouths, shares a fiery post-Falklands tango with Margaret Thatcher, and charms some of the most powerful players of the twentieth century.
Rupert is a scintillating celebration of avarice, acumen, and the life styles of the super-rich and famous. With legends and larrikins, song and dance, Williamson's irreverent and irresistible expose of media, money, power, and politics is sure to be 2015's maverick theatrical event. Scandalously audacious!
Click here for info and to book.
JENNIFER NARRATES FIND ME A MAORI BRIDE
Jennifer is the narrator of Find Me a Maori Bride, airing Fridays at 8 p.m. on Maori TV. Click here to watch past episodes online.
The dramedy, from the creators of Auckland Daze, is about Tama (Cohen Holloway) and George (Matariki Whatarau), a pair of metrosexual Maori men on a quest to find themselves an authentic Maori bride. Also starring Amanda Billing, Siobhan Marshall, and Te Kohe Tuhaka. See the show's Facebook page.
NZ Herald: "Must-see TV ... a hilariously earnest voice-over from Jennifer Ward-Lealand ... our new favourite show and it's a likely candidate for local comedy of the year"
Yahoo NZ: "very smart and self-aware take on the stereotypes and perceptions of Maori culture. Maori TV's brief is to blend culture with entertainment and Find Me a Maori Bride fits that bill perfectly. Jennifer Ward-Lealand provides a pitch-perfect narration for the sharply observed series"
Stuff: "almost certainly going to be the best Kiwi comedy on television this year ... crying with laughter ... There's no better way of spending your Friday night by tuning in to the latest episode"
MICHAEL DIRECTED ASH VS. EVIL DEAD
Michael directed episodes 6 and 7 of new tv series Ash vs. Evil Dead in June 2015. It will air on STARZ! in late 2015.
The show is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, and showrunner Craig DiGregorio, and stars Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Mimi Rogers, Jill Marie Jones, Ray Santiago, and Dana DeLorenzo. Australian streaming service Stan has announced that it has exclusive rights to the show in Australia, and that it will air on the same day that it is shown on STARZ!; click here for info.
This 10-episode first season is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell is reprising his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario, and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding reponsibility, maturity, and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its "Evil" grip. Click here for more.
There will be an Ash vs. Evil Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday 10 July at 6 p.m. Click here for info.
Michael was in London for 6 weeks from mid-February directing this immersive theatre show, currently being performed at 69-89 Mile End Road, London, presented by Riverside Studio, Luke Johnson, Andy Harries, Generation of Z Ltd, and Jean Doumanian. Click here for info and tickets. Check out the latest news and photos on their Facebook page.
LondonTheatre1: "... This is not just a scare-fest ... but is a genuine theatrical performance where Director Michael Hurst moves his team of actors ... along with the audience around like puppets on a string. For me as an audience member it was an amazingly emotional show. A mixture of subliminal fear, genuine horror, pathos and some lovely bits of unexpected comedy had me gripped from the moment we entered"
Horror Cult Films: "... theatre at its most immersive ... actors who sell the hell out of every scene ... get yourself down to London's east end ... it's worth every penny".
The Hollywood News: "... an immersive piece of promenade theatre ... an emotive and evocative rollercoaster ... you’ll be dying to come back and do it all again".
The Upcoming: "... The actors revel in their characters. Audience participation is not encouraged; it is enforced ... Acting is of an exceptionally high standard"
LondonTheatre: " ... tremendously well-structured and well-executed show ... surprisingly realistic effects ... completely unique ... exploring new ways of how to entertain ... exhilarating and intense theatrical experience"
Digital Spy: "... it's undoubtedly the best of its kind out there ... The make-up artists have done an incredible job, the zombies are genuinely scary, the acting is excellent and it even has a decent story"
Gay Times: "... it is not a haunted house scare fest, it is a fully realized play ... Given the mammoth task of not only acting but also engaging and incorporating the audience into the story, the cast were phenomenal"
The Generation of Z is pioneering a new form of high-octane, interactive storytelling. Set amongst the chaos of a zombie apocalypse, GenZ throws the audience into their own live video game, where every "survivor" can directly influence the show's narrative and outcome. Will you cower against the walls, or rise up to be the hero?
Forget watching this from your seat - GenZ is multimedia theatre on steroids, where every choice is life or death. What would you do to survive?
LondonTheatre1 did an interview with Michael about creating immersive theatre; read it here.
OZ COMIC-CON PANELS AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD
Michael was a celebrity guest at Oz Comic-Con in Perth on 11 & 12 April 2015, and in Adelaide on 18 & 19 2015.
A video collection of panels from the Perth con is now available here, including the Hercules panel that Michael did with Kevin Sorbo.
Michael and Kevin also did a Hercules panel in Adelaide, which is now available as part of the Adelaide collection here.
TATAU COMES TO NEW ZEALAND
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 on demand through many cable companies and digital platforms (such as Amazon and iTunes). Click here to find out where you can watch it.
Beginning 3 July, it will be available in New Zealand 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. Michael filmed his episodes in October/November 2014.
Click here for info.
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.
From the show's Facebook page:
"Kyle is unsettled when local people react to his tattoo: it clearly has a significance that he is entirely unaware of. It’s like he’s been marked out for something – but what?
"Later, while snorkelling in a lagoon, Kyle finds the body of a local girl, Aumea, tied up underwater – dead. Returning to the lagoon with the police, Kyle finds her corpse has disappeared. Budgie wonders if his best friend is going mad – he’s imagining things. But Kyle knows what he saw. And he’s also beginning to realise that he has a gift – or a curse: the murder he’s witnessed isn’t something that has happened, it’s something that will happen in the future.
"Kyle and Budgie find themselves sucked into a desperate race to prevent Aumea’s murder, as Kyle learns that his gifts don’t stop at prophecy… and the full meaning of his tattoo is revealed".
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.
MICHAEL DIRECTED STEP DAVE
Michael directed the final 2 episodes (12 and 13) of the second season of Kiwi tv series Step Dave in April/May 2015. The TVNZ show stars Sia Trokenheim, Jono Kenyon, Rawiri Jobe, Tanya Nolan, Aidee Walker, William Wallace, Tainui Tukiwaho, Lisa Harrow, Maya Wyatt, Lily Powell, and George Beca. Click here for info.
MICHAEL'S EPISODE OF THE BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES AVAILABLE IN THE USA BEGINNING 18 MAY
Michael directed the third (of four) episodes, 'Playing the Lie', which aired in New Zealand on Prime in October 2014. The show is now available in the US on AcornTV. Click here for info/access.
The show stars Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland, with Pana Hema Taylor, Nic Sampson, Christina Ionda, Colin Moy, Andi Crown, and Miriama McDowell. It won the Bronze World Medal in the Television Drama category at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards. A second season was announced in December 2014 and began filming in May 2015.
The four two-hour mystery movies were released on dvd on 11 December 2014; a region 1 dvd set will be released 7 July.