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Reviews of the Legend Returns

"This is a night out to cherish."
Evening Standard, Palmerston North

"Whether she is 'winging it' through a Rossini aria because she can't remember the words or being knocked out by a high 'C'...Miss Cynthia Fortitude is a riot".
Evening Post, Wellington

"Gertrude Rallentando plays with magnificent eloquence... Though never saying a word, she conveys a vast world of frustration, deference and resentment through the microscopic inflections of her steely gaze."
San Francisco Chronicle

"You'll have to see it! Having spent an evening almost weeping with laughter, we don't care where they came from, or what they did before they came. That they came is sufficient!"
Metropolis, Christchurch

"One of our most requested recordings."
Radio New Zealand

Dominion-Post 12th November 2003

Now celebrating their 30th anniversary since graduating from the Royal Wellington Polytechnic as well as 30 years of touring the more remote parts of the Third World, the well-known diva, Miss Cynthia Fortitude, and her indefatigable accompanist, Miss Gertrude Rallentando, are back after a long absence with three more musical soirees before they move on to a festival in Taupo.

And what a pleasure it is to see that age has not withered them, even though hitting a top C has not got any easier, nor has Miss Fortitude’s inability to master Italian stopped her from winging it through – sorry singing – an aria by Rossini.

And I’m glad that the Met hasn’t yet accepted their opera so we can still have the opportunity of participating in a workshop of Stan which is now entitled John, but this could change.

This time they have Ian Leslie helping them out. He’s their nice ‘lighting and sound guy’ whom they ask to be creative in a subtle sort of way. I have to admit I was impressed by his operation of the recorded applause button, which he handled with dexterity if not subtlety.

It is, however, unfortunate that Miss Rallentando is still drinking altruistically – in order to make other people interesting. Yet it seems to have absolutely no effect on her performance at the pianoforte, at which she will play Rachmaninov at the drop of a hat. It fact Miss Fortitude described Rachmaninov as Miss Rallentando’s default setting.

Just when theatre seems to be getting very serious, sober-sided and predictable, it is great to report again that nothing beats the sight and sound of an audience rocking and howling with laughter at the antics of performers who have set out to make a group of strangers one.

Helen Moulder and Rose Beauchamp do just this, and when Moulder sings her finale, the evening ends on just right notes of drollery, fun, lightheartedness and wonderful laughter.
- Laurie Atkinson

National Business Review 14th November 2003

A thoroughly evolved version of The Legend Returns (which initially premiered at the 1998 Fringe Festival) has returned to Circa Studio for a four-Sunday season, fresh from touring the Gobi Desert in what Luciano Pavarotti apparently dubbed their Nissan Dorma.

Born-again virgin Cynthia Fortitude (Helen Moulder) and associate virgin Gertrude Rallentando (Rose Beauchamp) seduce us, in a purely figurative sense, with snippets from dead composers including Rachmaninov, Verdi, Rossini, Smetana and Chopin with details of their deaths as a bonus. Such virtuosity of voice and intellect (Cynthia) and digits and dumbshow (Gertrude) is rare and wondrous to behold.

But their irresistable piece de resistance is the workshopping before our very eyes of their first and stiill unfinished homegrown opera, Stan. We even get to participate in the plotless yet passionate drama by joining in The Laughing Chorus, The Humming Chorus, the Wolves Howl and the Pinus (with anatomically correct pronunication) Radiata Chant.

I would defy anyone not to be successfully delighted, entranced and astonished by the wit, musicality and unadulterated madness these women bring to their craft, abetted by the sound and lighting of Ian Leslie. See it as and when you can.
- John Smythe

Capital Times 26th November 2003

The Legend Returns is clever, witty and hugely entertaining. It is developed and expanded from the Hens’ Teeth performances devised by Helen Moulder (as opera singer and touring performer Cynthia Fortitude) and Rose Beauchamp (her companion, pianist and accompanist Gertrude Rallentando).

Beauchamp – very accomplished on the piano – is the long suffering companion and accompanist, her gestures and knowing expressions are extremely funny and often (intentionally) threaten to upstage Moulder’s droll storytelling and singing.

The script is full of music and theatre-in-jokes about composers, operas and singing and the audience is left enchanted and exhausted from laughter.

The humour, both subtle and broad, capitivated the audience with slapstick and clever wordplay. Moulder’s renditions of famous arias, with musical history about dead composers, brings in a wrenching, but funny, emotional reaction.

The show is hilarious and engaging. The audience was easily and willingly cajoled into participating in the development of the duo’s new homegrown opera in progress, Stan, adapted on this night to Charlie, from the name of an elderly good sport in the front row.

The choruses and arias showed Moulder’s skill in articulating the story, her impeccable diction and pronunciation in this providing much of the humour.

There were snippets of Verdi, Rossini, Smetana, Rachmaninov and Chopin on piano and a particularly clever and funny rendering of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma with Moulder behind their Egyptian hanging providing chorus and solos.

There was musical mayhem and madness piled on alternately subtle, tasteful and tasteless, crazy and naughty moments.

This is a real hoot.
- Garth Wilshere

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