Marley, marionettes, Mansfield and more - Garden arts fest line-up revealed
An all-star musical tribute to reggae great Bob Marley will be the main event of the 2017 Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.
The concert on the Rhododendron Lawn on Saturday, February 18 will get the 10-day series of events under way with the homage to the superstar, who has had a massive influence on much of New Zealand music.
And many of New Zealand's best-known musicians will be converging on the city for the show. The line-up includes Tiki Taane, Boh Runga, Katchafire's Logan Bell, Ria Hall, Laughton and Fran Kora, Anna Coddington, Jayson Norris and Warren Maxwell from Trinity Roots.
Many of the musicians involved also collaborated on a recently released album of Marley covers, and concerts featuring a variation of the line-up will also be staged in Tauranga, Havelock North and Kerikeri.
The Marley concert was one of 42 events announced at a special festival launch event at the gardens on Wednesday night, attended by about 100 people.
For those whose entertainment preferences don't encompass the soothing, uplifting reggae beats pioneered and perfected by Marley, there will be plenty more to choose from, including several staples of the annual summertime festival.
The following night the Sunset Symphony concert by the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, this time with the theme of "A Viennese Midsummer Night".
Another regular event is the Opera at Twilight concert on February 22, which will feature soloists including Sarah Court, Elaine Wogan, Pamela Wallace and Clinton Fung performing works by Bizet, Mozart, Rossini and Strauss, among others.
And then there is the Mansfield Garden Party, a Sunday morning picnic in the Rogers Rose Gardens in a retro 1920s art deco style. Live music, vintage cars, fashion parades and even Charleston dance lessons will feature. The event is free, but gold coin donations to the development of the Katherine Mansfield Garden will be very welcome.
Festival programmes will shortly be distributed to the city's libraries and council buildings, and will also be available at the gardens, allowing prospective punters to peruse the shows on offer.
Other likely highlights include La Vie Dans Une Marionette, a pantomime tale of a lonely pianist and the puppet he buys to keep him company, which employs clowning, dance and live music.
Alex Ellis, who thrilled crowds at this year's festival with her one-woman show Drowning in Veronica Lake will return with her new production Miss Jean Batten; and Hamilton's own Lyon sisters - Gwen and Ruby - will perform a mix of pop, classical and musical theatre numbers in the Victorian Garden Conservatory.
This year's festival features two new temporary venues - the Pacific Crystal Palace, a 300-seat performance space that is based on the Belgian-designed spiegeltents of the 19th century; and the Jade Dragon Children's Theatre.
And one show is also a theatre stage in it's own right. The Floating Theatre, which can be seen at Turtle Lake for four performances, is an intimate experience that features an audience of 30 on the interior and a public spectacle on the outside.
On Friday, February 24 the Backyard Beats concert - an extremely popular part of the 2016 festival - will be staged. The line-up for 2017 features revered New Zealand funk band The Hipstamatics, supported by tribal electronica act J Geeks and reggae/funk/rock/hip-hop group Summer Thieves.
Beatles fans will likely find much joy in the Helter Skelter concert on Friday, February 17 and Irish acts Mundy and the Seamus Begley Trio will perform on February 23.
The Marley concert is not the only Marley-themed event in Hamilton this summer. An exhibition - simply titled Bob Marley - featuring a selection of photographs and prints documenting the life of the musician will be shown at Waikato Museum from December 17 to April 2.