Vocal trio The Madeleines wowed a Christchurch audience with a mix of jazz and pop standards from the war years through to the 1960s bringing smiles of recognition and a few tears to some sentimental eyes.
Cited as New Zealand’s premier vocal trio the three, Shannon Evison, Hannah Heke-Kee and newcomer Maria Morris, swung with style -- showing off their dance moves while giving a performance of songs from past decades.
Prospects for Kevin Hickman were in the audience as were existing residents – with about 26 from the village sitting down beside some possible new neighbours who might choose a village home in the future. In all the audience totalled around 80 – equating to a packed house despite some wet spring weather.
Once the audience were seated the Madeleines stepped out to applause from the crowd to open with Glenn Miller’s In the Mood.
The standards and hits of yesterday kept coming. The trio working under a name to encapsulate the glamour of the group, performed the Andrews Sisters’ Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and Chattanooga Choo Choo. Other war era songs included Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree plus George and Ira Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm (from the film Girl Crazy), and post war tunes included Straighten Up and Fly Right (Nat King Cole) and Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra).
Madeleines performed to other Ryman audiences on their tour of Christchurch and Auckland.
The trio had a lovely story to tell the attendees. They formed with a couple of the members having returned from stints in Australia, and also the United Kingdom -- where they’d been performing in the West End and other theatrical places. Hannah says she and Shannon knew each other from Tauranga Girls’ High School and even performed in choirs together.
“We were real musical theatre nerds from day one. We did lots of musicals in Tauranga together... actually our first musical together was when we were about eight,” Hannah said.
That initial musical was a compilation of songs, and was called Spotlight on Broadway, Shannon said. Later on, a highlight for Hannah was the West End version of The Blues Brothers, a high-octane show based around the 1980 movie that featured John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. “That was just such a fun musical,” Hannah said.
Shannon said a highlight for her was working as a lead vocalist at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
Hannah and Shannon returned from overseas, both wanting to continue their performance careers.
“We thought we better take control of it a little more, and make an opportunity for ourselves really, because it’s a much smaller industry here,” Hannah said. “We started singing when things started opening up again, after lockdown really.”
The three said they’d done a series of cruises recently – having recently returned from Fiji and Vanuatu, and also having been on board a cruise ship, which attended a mayday call from a 24-year-old Australian man who was attempting to break the record for the youngest person to row solo across the Pacific. They agreed, laughing, that they were now enjoying the ‘smoother sailing’ around Christchurch.
This summer they would do a lot more touring around New Zealand and potentially into Asia.
Kevin Hickman residents Ally and Julie Robinson said they were very happy to be part of the audience and sitting alongside neighbour Joan Cowan despite inclement spring weather. “We were joking about them having to get warmed up so early in the morning,” Julie said.
Ryman Healthcare Events Specialist Kate Chastukhina said the Tea House provided great acoustics for the show, and a great venue for a wet weather event. Kevin Hickman Sales Advisor Wendy Kappler said she was so impressed with The Madeleines, as were the crowd. “I was just commenting to one of our attendees that we’re so lucky at the moment... that we’ve got contact with these wonderful performers who come to our events.”