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The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s grandest yet: Romeo & Juliet shoots for the stars with spectacle


NEWS  by Jack Yan/August 16, 2017/12.20


Top photo: Stephen A’Court; above: Ross Brown

Since announcing he would be leaving the Royal New Zealand Ballet as its artistic director in November 2016, it became evident that Romeo & Juliet, the new ballet that had its world première in Wellington tonight, would be Francesco Ventriglia’s love letter to the company. It takes all the talent that the company (and Orchestra Wellington) can muster, dials it up a notch, and Ventriglia injects his own artistry and connections to make this not only a wonderful, classical reinvention of the Shakespearean tragedy, but one that is visually and dramatically authentic.
   It wasn’t a simple matter of staging and choreography: Ventriglia worked with dramaturge Mattia Mario Giorgetti to get the historical and social context of fifteenth-century Verona right; and Academy Award winner James Acheson (Dangerous Liaisons, The Last Emperor, and Restoration) was asked to re-create an authentic Verona with colourful costumes that, in Ventriglia’s words, ‘are as true as possible to the Renaissance as ballet costumes, created in the 21st century, can be’. Jon Buswell (lighting designer), Gillian Whittingham (choreographic assistant), and Frédéric Jahn (guest ballet master) were part of the ‘dream team’, but special mention must be given to fight coordinator Carrie Thiel, whose knowledge of stunt work and swordplay gave Romeo & Juliet an extra edge. There were 13 scene changes and over 90 costumes: Romeo & Juliet was not just the RNZB’s biggest production of 2017, it could well be its grandest over the last several years. It fills its three hours (three acts, two intermissions) with extravagance; lovers of classical ballets will indulge in it.
   Acheson’s work was immediately evident with a bright, summertime Verona set that had more depth and detail than many other productions’; his sets also rotated and moved, easing the audience into each different scene. There was a beauty to these sets as well as a modularity, something that hadn’t been attempted successfully in previous ballets we’ve reviewed. Renaissance-inspired art featured in Juliet’s bedroom and in the church. Acheson is on top of his game, and the costumes and sets lent Romeo & Juliet a world-class flair.
   Opening night saw Joseph Skelton as Romeo and Madeleine Graham as Juliet, a well cast pair: both had caught our eyes in previous ballets. Skelton had an innocent quality as a young man falling in love; Graham gave her Juliet a mix of a childish wonder and determination. Let’s hear it for the boys: Massimo Margaria was on form as Romeo’s friend Mercutio, and his easy Italian charm almost stole the show; while Paul Mathews had a chance to showcase his villainy in Tybalt.
   While ‘villainy’ might be a strong word in some cases (but Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Dance of the Knights’ certainly conveyed that in a masked ball scene taking place within the Capulet’s palazzo), it seemed to work here: the swordplay mentioned earlier took audiences from classical ballet to a fight scene in the first act that had the spectacle of Errol Flynn’s 1938 outing as Robin Hood; Ventriglia offered concessions to modernity by "freeze-framing" part of the action while allowing the central characters to continue, with Buswell’s lighting playing along, before gradually speeding it up again—something, we might add, that can only be accomplished with decent ballet dancers.
   Nevertheless, this isn’t a simple tale of good versus evil, but a love story. The pas de deux between Romeo and Juliet at the end of Act I was touching and tender, beginning with Juliet and her nurse preparing for bed in an upstairs room (another clever touch from Acheston), and Romeo performing some remarkable lifts once Juliet joined him.
   The always welcome Sir Jon Trimmer played Friar Laurence, and the church set was another triumph for Acheson with its simplicity and its crucifix (after Giotto) at its centre.
   Juliet’s solos were particularly moving: Graham’s performances in Act III were particular memorable, if tinged with sadness, when Romeo departs her bedroom after their secret wedding night; her contemplation of whether to take the Friar’s potion; and her despair on discovering that he had taken his life after thinking she had taken hers.
   Ventriglia gives a glimpse of the lovers gazing at each other before the final curtain, leaving the ballet on a more positive note, signalling that they are together in the afterlife. Some members of the opening night audience offered ovations to the cast and to Ventriglia, Acheson, Giorgetti and others. As a ballet that began life in October 2016 while Ventriglia was artistic director, it was a fitting valedictory work.

Twenty-two performances have been scheduled from the première on August 16 till September 24, in Wellington (with Orchestra Wellington), Christchurch (with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra), Auckland (with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra), Rotorua, Dunedin (with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra), Invercargill, Palmerston North, and Napier.
   The season is sponsored by Ryman Healthcare. More information can be found at www.rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

London’s City Concours to show and sell rare, significant cars—Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bugatti represented


NEWS  by Lucire staff/June 1, 2017/20.06


Tim Scott

The City Concours in London, taking place June 8–9, will host a selection of classic and iconic cars, some of which are for sale. An Aston Martin DB5 that had been used by Ogle Design to preview the DB6 interior from JD Classics, a DB2/4 Mk II FHC with a 3·7-litre engine and four-speed gearbox from Nicholas Mee, a Ferrari 458 Speciale with the optional Blu Nart Racing Stripe and titanium exhaust system from Romans International, and a 599 GTO from Fiskens are among those which visitors can walk away with. Organizers say there will be over 100 rare cars at the event, held at the Honourable Artillery Company grounds, near to the Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations. Tickets and hospitality are available at www.cityconcours.co.uk.
   JD Classics will also show a Ferrari 599 SA Aperta and a Mercedes 300SL; Romans will show a Ferrari 458 Speciale A and ‘two other ultra-rare modern Ferraris,’ according to organizers; and Fiskens will display an Aston Martin DB6 Volante and a Bentley 4·5-litre “short chassis”. Atalanta Motors, Clayton Classics, H. R. Owen, Stratstone of Mayfair and Will Stone Historic Cars will also participate. There will also be a Maserati Tipo 200SI, Jaguar D-type, Bugatti Veyron and McLaren P1.

Lamborghini Museum at Sant’Agata Bolognese to host Ayrton Senna exhibition from April 12


NEWS  by Lucire staff/April 2, 2017/12.43

The Lamborghini Museum at Sant’Agata Bolognese will host an exhibition honouring the late Formula 1 champion, Ayrton Senna, beginning April 12 and running to October 9, 2017.
   Ayrton Senna: the Man and the Legend commemorates Senna’s test drive at Estoril in 1993, in a McLaren MP4/8 with a Lamborghini V12 engine.
   The museum will display every type of single-seat race car driven by Senna, including a white McLaren identical to the one tested at Estoril, his first kart, two Formula Fords, the Ralt F3, a Toleman, a black Lotus JPS that he drove in his first victory, the McLaren that helped him to his wins, and his final Williams.
   There will also be a photography exhibition, entitled Ayrton Senna: the Last Night, curated by Ercole Colombo and Giorgio Terruzzi. The photos show Senna’s career, from his start in kart racing, his Formula 1 début, his key victories and defeats, his friends and rivals, his relationship with Alain Prost, his personal life and faith, to his final hours on the track.
   While Senna liked the racing car, he never got to finish the season with the engine, when negotiations fell through.
   Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali will host the media presentation on April 12, along with Colombo and Terruzzi, and Mauro Forghieri and Daniele Audetto, who were present at the 1993 test drive.
   Senna died on May 1, 1994, aged 34, during the San Marino Grand Prix, when the steering column in his car failed.
   Lamborghini will also display two current models, the Aventador S and Huracán Performante. The exhibition also marks the beginning of a partnership between the museum and Pirelli.
   The museum is open daily, including Sundays, from 9.30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Paris editor’s diary: a treat for the body, mind and soul at Kona Kai Resort & Spa


NEWS  by Lola Cristall/March 30, 2017/12.07




Kona Kai Resort & Spa

Whether for business or pleasure, guests can enjoy the beauty and grace of an exclusively trendy setting. The Kona Kai Resort & Spa in San Diego, California, is more than just a place to stay: it can be thought of as an opulent escape with stylish, contemporary furnishing. The site is surrounded by the Pacific. The hotel comprises a a private beach, a swimming pool, a tiki bar, beach fire pits, 24-hour concierge service, 129 guest rooms, a fitness centre as well as the phenomenal 7,020 ft² SpaTerre, providing facial treatments, massages, and more. Whether in a room overlooking a marina view, a premium bay view, or a pool view, guests will enjoy a scenic prospect that will make their stay even more satisfying.
   SpaTerre’s quality takes one back into a relaxed, zen and calm setting. Other than their exquisite services that incorporate original treatments such as the Himalayan salt stone massage, Balinese massage, the Ancient Earth Cleanse, the Javanese Royal Treatment and even Cleopatra’s Milk Ritual, the spa’s pièce de résistance is its innovative heated quartz sand bed that is sure to relieve and deeply calm one’s aching muscles. It’s only one out of sixteen available in the US.
   Guests can also indulge in an enticing meal at the Vessel restaurant. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the savoury American cuisine, meticulously prepared by executive chef Roy Hendrickson, is made of local and seasonal ingredients.—Lola Cristall, Paris editor





Iris Apfel, Julien Macdonald will be on board Queen Mary 2 for Transatlantic Fashion Week


NEWS  by Lucire staff/February 9, 2017/12.01

Fashion icon Iris Apfel, 95, is one of the VIPs sailing on the Queen Mary 2 for Cunard’s second annual Transatlantic Fashion Week, running from August 31 to September 7, 2017.
   Apfel, known for her flamboyant personal style and her work in the fashion industry (including campaigns for and collaborations with Swarovski, MAC, Kate Spade, HSN, Wise Wear and others), will present a Q&A session on board and introduce a showing of Iris, Albert Maysles’ 2014 documentary which had premièred at the New York Film Festival.
   Other VIPs on board the cruise are Julien Macdonald, historian Colin McDowell, and former Saks Fifth Avenue merchandise director Gail Sackloff. Models from Storm Model Management will also be on board, walking the catwalks over seven days.
   The cruise will feature runway shows, dinners and exclusive unveilings, says Cunard.
   The Queen Mary 2 departs Southampton on August 31, and will arrive in New York in time for the spring–summer 2018 fashion week. Fares start at NZ$2,029 per person, twin share, subject to availability and with conditions. Further information is available at www.cunard.com or by telephone on 0800 543-431 in New Zealand.


Above: With her signature oversized jewellery and glasses, Iris Apfel’s presence will be unmissable this autumn on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

Mary Tyler Moore’s most famous TV shows altered lives for the better


NEWS  by Jack Yan/January 26, 2017/12.38


Jack Yan

You’re going to make it after all When visiting Minneapolis many years ago, I photographed the now-famous statue of Mary Tyler Moore doing the “hat toss” from the credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

When I asked my colleague Nathalia Archila to write an obituary for Mary Tyler Moore, it reminded me of an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Mary Richards’ boss, Lou Grant, asks her to update obituaries as part of her job. It seems there are plenty of links in my life to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a show I grew up watching.
   I have a connection with the show as a fan: I once ran the biggest email list for the series and its spinoffs. Called The Mary & Rhoda List, it was a place where other fans could discuss their favourite moments and keep up to date with the stars. It was originally run with a bunch of addresses, before I shifted it to Egroups, which later became Yahoo! Groups. For many years now, while I’m still listed as the admin, it’s been run by Sandy McLendon, a US-based fan.
   The list did catch the eye of co-star Valerie Harper, who one year sent me a nice autographed copy of her book for Christmas, along with a wee note. It was an acknowledgement of a job well done. But when Facebook and social media became the norm, the group became much less frequented.
   But why did this show have such an impact? In the 1970s, there was the backdrop of feminism, and watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show did give me the notion that women should be treated as equals to men. An underlying feminist theme existed in many of the episodes, and the absence of pay parity was directly addressed in one of them. I was too young to have noticed the references to Mary spending the night at a boyfriend’s or the fact she was on the Pill, but what I did see as a child was a Mustang-driving woman who had an independent life and a nice apartment. Why couldn’t all women do what they wanted and not be subject to what society dictated? Perhaps it appealed to my nonconformist mindset, something which I’ve had my entire life.
   I can’t be the only middle-aged man today who gained some awareness of feminism and equal rights through this show.
   I might have even gained the notion of working in the media through The Mary Tyler Moore Show—after all, plenty of people became comedy writers after seeing The Dick Van Dyke Show—and, perhaps to a similar degree, Tabitha (think The Mary Tyler Moore Show if Mary Richards was a witch living out in California).
   In reruns I discovered the snappy writing and directing of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and when you compare it to the shows that had just gone before—The Beverly Hillbillies comes to mind—it was realistic, urban and sophisticated. American films had become more gritty around that time, and television followed. While somewhat idealized, and certainly not as downbeat as All in the Family, the successful US remake of Till Death Do Us Part, you could associate with the characters. You simply couldn’t on the other show about a Texas oil millionaire living in Beverly Hills. Showing it to my other half tonight, she remarked at how little it had actually dated: there still isn’t pay parity for women, for instance, and women over 30 are still under pressure from society and, sometimes, family, on whether they will get married and have kids. I worked out that this show aired 47 years ago, and 47’s a lot nearer to 50 than it is to 40. Half a century and we’re still not giving women their due.
   It’s a show I have enjoyed regularly, including its reruns in the late 1990s, though, interestingly, its most acclaimed episode, ‘Chuckles Bites the Dust’ (1975), isn’t my favourite. I even had the 2000 TV movie, Mary & Rhoda, recorded by friends in the US and air-mailed over here, though it was such an appalling production that I wondered if it was worth the trip.
   Again in reruns, I became a fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show. I wasn’t born during that show’s original run; instead, I had seen van Dyke and Carl Reiner’s later effort, The New Dick Van Dyke Show. And Dick van Dyke, of course, was the silver-haired man giving us fire safety messages on New Zealand TV then, presumably adaptations of US PSAs.
   The Dick Van Dyke Show gave us a look at an extremely fun job—that of comedy writers—but there was also plenty of romance between van Dyke’s Rob Petrie and his screen wife, Laura, played by Moore. Maybe that, too, was idealized, but I see elements of that in my own relationship—that if you’ve got to keep it going, you need to inject some fun. I saw myself as a Rob Petrie kind of guy, and I might never have watched the earlier show if it wasn’t for Moore’s involvement.

continued below





Jack Yan

Above, from top: Sign at the Mary Tyler Moore Table at Basil’s. The Mary Tyler Moore Table at Basil’s at the Marquette Hotel. Where the exterior shots of Mary Richards’ first house were filmed, at Kenwood Parkway. The Midwest Plaza, where the fictional WJM-TV was located.

   Naturally, when I was in Minneapolis, the setting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I stalked the locations of the house used in the exterior shots of Mary’s original apartment, had a jog along the Lake of the Isles, snapped a photo of where the fictional WJM-TV was, as well as visited the statue of Moore on Nicollet Mall (once Nicollet Avenue) that commemorates her "hat toss" in Reza S. Badiyi’s opening credits for the sitcom.
   I headed to Basil’s at the Marquette Hotel for lunch and sat at what is now called the Mary Tyler Moore Table—Moore sat at this table with an unnamed actor in later versions of the credits—and, naturally, I got there by Ford Mustang, the same make and model of car she drove in the show.
   When Moore’s death was announced this morning here, it gave me time to reflect on just how big a part her work had played in my life. And how the messages of her ‘two Camelots’—two highly successful, much-watched TV series—resonated with me in different ways.
   The last time I saw Moore on TV, she was in a sitcom that co-starred Betty White, Hot in Cleveland. It reunited Moore with Harper, White (who was the sexually charged Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Georgia Engel and Cloris Leachman (Georgette and Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show). The fact she’s now gone means we won’t get these surprise reunions any more. However, we can still wander down memory lane, and her work is widely available on DVD.
   As we wandered in this piece, what we probably should be aware of is how hard-fought the victories of the feminist movement were. We must also realize, particularly in Moore’s own country, how there are forces prepared to undo them: their presidential elections evidenced this, with men and women quite divided on whom each group chose. Some would rather see us go back to the past, to an era even before the Petries. However, progress must continue, as we’ve more to gain from diverse voices—yet another message I recall from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Special features to kick off Lucire’s 20th anniversary year


NEWS  by Lucire staff/January 5, 2017/10.31


Paula Sweet

Above: Stanley Moss heads to Punta Ala in one of his best travel pieces to date. Click here to read it.

Welcome to Lucire’s 20th anniversary year.
   Remember that if you don’t see a news update (which will come with an RSS update), you can go to the main part of the website and check out our features.
   In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had Lola Cristall’s 2017 living guide; an archive interview with Thor director Taika Waititi; one of Stanley Moss’s best travel pieces to date, on five Italian centres, and another on Flemings in London; Elyse Glickman heading to Seoul, and Jack Yan testing the Mazda 3, or Mazda Axela. We’ve also looked at a natural skin care range, Kokulu, and made our picks from the spring–summer 2017 shows from New York Fashion Week.
   And, of course, there’s our print edition: issue 36 features stories on Delikate Rayne and author–filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis, and it’s a particularly strong issue on female power. Never mind the outcome of a certain country’s election: as Bhavana Bhim writes in the opening feature in issue 36, women have been increasing their power throughout the ages.
   Expect to see more of our Golden Globes’ suites coverage with Elyse Glickman this weekend in the news section, and more fashion, beauty, travel and living features through January.

British glamour meets Moroccan tradition


NEWS  by Lucire staff/December 12, 2016/13.34



Marrakech, an historic crossroads, always surprises when east meets west, and today the city finds itself in a time of rediscovery. The recent COP convention drew global attention to the issues of climate change, the annual film festival is in full force, and all eyes turn toward the 2017 Biennale which begins next December. The breaking news that British style icon and design legend Jasper Conran has opened his first boutique hotel property here adds gloss to the blossoming Moroccan rose. L’Hôtel Marrakech is small by any standards, only five spacious luxuriously-appointed suites overlooking a courtyard garden, and can be booked in its entirety. Objects of décor selected from Conran’s personal collection artfully counterpoint the whitewashed walls and tile surfaces, garlanded by flowing voile curtains and opulent plantings. A heated lap pool hidden by banana trees nestles next to a classic burbling fountain. There’s a roof terrace with views of the Atlas Mountains, yet a sense of privacy and exclusivity prevails. This property delivers a fusion of rest and comfort, a nostalgic memory of a classic palace. A full-service kitchen is on hand to serve the finest local delicacies or a ‘perfect steak and chips’. Welcome to the medina, Jasper. It’s lovely to see your vision merge with these ancient walls!—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

Editor’s note: Jasper Conran is quoted in the upcoming fourth edition of my book, What Is a Brand?, available spring 2017 from Ronzani Editori.











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