This 1976 concert sees Kiwi entertainment great John Rowles bring his cabaret show to His Majesty's Theatre in Auckland. Back from a hotel residency in Hawaii, Rowles belts out the ballads in his booming baritone. Tanned, in pastel blue flares, wide lapels, and plenty of bling, Rowles (here nearly 30) croons about wahine from Mandy to Sweet Caroline, to his iconic "island sweetheart" Cheryl Moana Marie. Memorable moments include tributes to Norman Kirk and singer Inia Te Wiata, a haka with Dave from Palmerston North, and a rousing finish with 'Mr Bojangles'.
This is Howard Morrison in his prime, wearing a white suit and a big smile. It’s a cabaret performance with all of Morrison’s hallmarks – big musical anthems, a few laughs and a lacing of Māori culture. His recent OBE award provides an opportunity for a self-deprecating gag – Ordinary Brown Entertainer – but this show proves he is anything but. A master of the ad lib, Morrison has a packed house hanging on his every word and note. Backed by the Yandall Sisters, he belts out a string of favourites, from ‘Begin the Beguine’ and ‘Mori the Hori’ to his hit single ‘Whakaaria Mai’.
This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars took the competitive community spirit of Top Town to the dance floor, with dancers twirling and dipping in sequinned spandex for the ‘Top Dance City’ trophy. Hosted by radio personality Lindsay Yeo, this 1982 final follows the foxtrot and samba at Wellington’s Majestic Cabaret. Beside regional bragging rights, winners take home a Pye Vidmatic 10 inch TV. The Northern Ballet Company (the one from Auckland, not the company from Leeds) interrupt proceedings for a Venusian space travel interlude that won't soon be forgotten.
As soon as the guitar line of 'Blue Lady' sparks up, the sea of perms, sweaty denim and cigarettes starts jumping. The Legionnaires (Hello Sailor reincarnated) were one of several top Kiwi bands to record live Radio With Pictures specials at Auckland's Mainstreet Cabaret during the 1980s. Their eight-strong set list contains bonafide hits like 'Blue Lady' and Graham Brazier's ode to his Liverpudlian roots, 'Billy Bold'. Another highlight is a moody rendition of 'Remember The Alamo' from guitarist and singer Dave McArtney's Pink Flamingos' catalogue.
In the year of his knighthood, Sir Howard got to fulfil a long-held dream — playing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Broadcast on TV One in October 1990, this is a big show, from its opening Space Odyssey theme, through the operatic numbers to finale ‘This is the Moment’. It is classic Howard Morrison in its blend of cabaret, humour and Māori culture. Sir Howard performs his most controversial song, ‘My Old Man’s An All Black’, with comedian Billy T James, and has ex-All Blacks captain Buck Shelford up on stage to lead the haka alongside Temuera Morrison.
Directed by Tainui Stephens, this 1990 TVNZ series surveyed Māori contemporary music. This second episode looks at the showband era (1950s - 70s), when musicians mixed genres (electric guitar, rock’n’roll) with Māori culture, to make a unique contribution to Kiwi show business. Acts like The Howard Morrison Quartet, The Māori Volcanics, The Quin Tikis and The Māori Hi-Fives took songs from marae to international cabarets. Music historian Chris Bourke praised the series for marking the role of showbands in the whakapapa of entertainers from Billy T James to Rim D Paul.
Onehunga born jazz and cabaret singer Ricky May hosts his own NZ TV special after 20 years of performing in Sydney. With help from special guests including Norman Erskine, Susan Dalzell and Jamie Rigg, May turns in polished big band versions of standards including ‘Running Bear’, ‘Hit The Road Jack’ and ‘Mack the Knife’. The show is long on music and short on patter, but May does talk about how he explains his Maori heritage to overseas audiences — and he acknowledges those origins with a medley of ‘Pokarekare Ana’ and ‘Hoki Mai’. Ricky May died in 1988.
At a time when TVNZ light entertainment inevitably meant major studio productions complete with dancing girls, Live from Chips presented singers in a live, no frills environment freed from big budget distractions. The venue was Wellington nightclub Chips and each episode focussed on one singer and backing band playing a 25 minute set. Four episodes were made featuring artists from outside the pop/rock orbits of Ready to Roll and Radio with Pictures — Tina Cross, Herb McQuay, Frankie Stevens and Mark Williams (flown in from Sydney to do the show).
This early 1980s all-singing, all-dancing, music theatre show ran for three series. It featured a 12-strong core cast — seven of whom had never previously danced, and five of whom weren't trained singers. Only one had acting experience. Members included Maggie Harper (later of Shortland Street), Richard Eriwata, Suzanne Lee, Vicky Haughton (Whale Rider) and actor Darien Takle. Regular features included stage show tributes, special guests, and a segment which created a new production out of apparently unrelated songs. A number of performers later won their own shows.
Two expat Kiwis return home from the United Kingdom in this episode of Coming Home — Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien, and renowned opera tenor Patrick Power. Power returns for work: he’s performing two demanding roles in Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana in Auckland. O’Brien’s visit is far more relaxed, visiting old haunts, his siblings and a former employer. Despite the pair espousing love for their UK residences, both fall victim to that irresistible allure of home. O'Brien, a British citizen raised in Aotearoa, was finally granted citizenship in 2011.