A Maori haka champion fashioning a Wolverine tribute show fusing Andrew Lloyd Webber and West Side Story: a voice like a dream, plies and sashays better than Cage aux Folles and he can still shake the stage with his stamp. What’s not to like?
Super Hugh-Man, Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) * * * *
Dreaming of being ferocious, fierce, fabulous and famous, Rutene Spooner grew up Maori in Gisborne, the place where Captain Cook first landed in New Zealand, an event not celebrated quite the way it used to be. Real boys join the haka team, the girls do the poi, swinging tethered weights.
And then a woman, in proudly the worst English accent ever perpetrated by a Kiwi, tells him to apply to musical theatre school in Christchurch. He finds blonde blue-eyed bombshells in ballet slippers, who know their Broadway musicals, and already have their superheroes. He nearly runs after his first brush with Tit Willow, from The Mikado.
But Spooner finds his direction in his role model: Hugh Jackman, Wolverine from the X-men series, and then astonishingly the Golden Globe winner for Les Miserables, the musical.
Spooner breaks all the stereotypes in this delightful, uplifting piece about finding your inner flounce. It’s semi-autobiographical: In 2009 he completed his Bachelor of Performing Arts in musical theatre from the National Academy for Singing and Dramatic Art in New Zealand.
He’s just come off an Australian tour of Jersey Boys, and other shows include Grease and Billy Elliott, reflected in the quality of the singing; after musical staples were stripped out for copyright reasons, he penned his own and they do the job wonderfully.
Until August 26.