If you're not distracted by the beauty of his well groomed legs you will be entranced by Mr Lola Illusions whimsical stories and expressive facials. With a lift of an eyebrow, a cheeky wink, or a saucy pout of his favourite red lips, his face gives away the truth behind a cleverly constructed story. Storytelling through song Ian Harman captures his audience in a rousing joy filled exhibition of youth and Joie de Vivre. Lights, music, dance and boyish charm sets a happy scene for all.
As usual for a show arranged by Ian the stage set neither takes over or fades away and magical tricks of light expertly guide the changes of scene and emotion. It was bright and quirky and yet minimal and well used to illustrate the movements from joy in the lights to sorrow in the shadows. It's a joyous riot of bawdy cabaret all wrapped up in high class sequins, makeup and heels.
Although this is a one man show Ian's face seemingly plays another role and upstages his well constructed costume. Conveying the journey from rebellious, over zealous, and love drunk to worn out, down on his luck, heartbroken, and spent, Lola's face is a direct link to his over worked heart. Travelling through all his highs and lows, Lola is kind to the audience and helps to keep things light by interspersing the heavier scenes with delightful magic shows that turn his audience into oohing and ahhing children. A heart rending mime scene was an amazing illusion that touched hearts drawing out some 'awwws' from a captive audience. It was a brilliant touch carried out with utter charm and vulnerability.
Lola had us all eating out of his hand and we all liked what we were digesting. He loves to play and is full of mischief which is perfectly captured in his cheeky magic shows. But Lola is an entertainer, and he always shows the best of himself giving us the illusion that his life is simply a happy song and dance. When the lights are off Lola is left kicking his heart back home through streets of bitter disappointment.
Mr Lola Illusion is fun, sad, magic and marvellous. Ian Harman makes it all happen in full colour, expertly guiding his audience through the entire experience. Short and delightful just like Lola, this show will enchant you.
Catch it at Bats Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington till the 19th of February
What's the Story - With Ian Harman?
Ian Harman is a mystery man of Illusion whose charms you may have experienced without even realising. His act is impressive – born and raised on a dairy farm in small town Eketahuna - you may not even notice Ian go about his business in Palmerston North. He fits in, is polite, smiles and nods and disappears into the crowd. But as I mentioned, Ian is a master of Illusion, if you get the chance to look closely you’ll see a magic twinkle in his eye.
Ian Harman is a treasure that Palmerston North is lucky to have in its midst. If you’ve attended the many theatre shows that have played in this city over the years, you’re likely to have unwittingly experienced his magic. From acting, to costume design, set design and directing, Ian has had a hand in creating some of the best shows Palmerston North has ever seen. He extends his reach into the Wellington theatre scene where his skills are sought after too, but you wouldn’t know about it unless you ask – he is mysterious and humble.
So how did he go about pulling this magical creative rabbit out of his hat? That is a story that has a wonderful beginning. When a young super cute Ian started school at the age of five, the Christmas pantomime was already in rehearsal. It had a nursery rhyme theme and Ian got a last minute line tacked on for him. With a wonderful prop his crafty Mother made him, Ian got to play Little Jack Horner and say ‘and what a good boy am I’ while sticking his thumb in a pie and pulling out a plum. His delivery must have been endearing because the crowd responded in a way that gave an impressionable Ian such a moment of joy that he was never to forget it, inspiring him ever since to find that moment of pleasure again.
Isolated rural life didn’t provide much opportunity to indulge Ian’s love of drama but a magic set given to him at the age of seven years old cast a spell over him. Ian reveals that he had plenty of time on his hands to indulge in perfecting the art of magic in the sleepy little town of Eketahuna and achieved great success at his first Magic Competition in Hamilton at the age of fourteen where he gained third place in New Zealand and went on to become a teenage champion and national champion. Ian enjoyed entertaining, but doing magic in front of magicians was an intimidating experience – he knew his act relied on him being entertaining, not just magical so he entertained magically!
After a brief stint training as a graphic designer Ian followed his passion for entertaining and pursued a career in the entertainment industry. Managing to enchant Dance Encore Productions he was picked up for his magician abilities and taken overseas to Sydney where he worked as a backing singer, backing dancer and magician. Dance Encore Productions also whisked Ian away on a contract to Japan where he became lead singer and magician in shows. Ian credits Dance Encore Productions with sharing their wealth of experience with him, showing him the etiquette and professionalism he needed in the industry. He made the most of all the opportunities that came his way, quietly watching and learning, getting stuck in and assisting with things like ironing costumes and setting up stages so that he could see how it all worked and build his craft.
When Ian was hired by Art Orient Entertainment in Taiwan in 2015 he worked entertaining in a theme park as well as turning his hand to costume design and construction, illusion design, and magic consultant roles.
After stuffing as many tricks in his suitcase as possible Ian returned to New Zealand for a brief stint, but found his heart kept him here. Because Ian’s work in Palmerston North has been both extensive and award winning I’ve revealed a summary at the end of this article since there are simply too much to slot in here – I am no magician.
Ian transformed his experience from overseas and from the companies he’d worked for and created his own company in Palmerston North ‘Stagestruck Productions’. After auditioning for parts, Ian conjured up delightful floor shows in various styles such as Rock ‘n’ Roll, Latin, Jungle, Rocky Horror, and French inspired creating a new one up to every three weeks which were performed in hotels and resorts throughout New Zealand.
In 2007 Ian’s vision of producing a burlesque show came to fruition with the creation of the ‘Boom Boom Room’ a production company that brought arty burlesque to Palmerston North before it had come back into fashion. Ian’s passion for producing, high quality, classy burlesque is not restricted to image alone. His sensitivity to the process of not only being physically nude but naked in the performer’s vulnerability has been a key to making not only the performers feel comfortable but also ensuring the audience’s experience was enjoyable. ‘The Boom Boom Room’ enjoyed a schedule which took them all the way to Queenstown to perform.
Pushing past his own vulnerability enabled Ian to find a part to play that he had never seen himself doing, and which at first he was not comfortable with. After taking advice from a choreographer friend who suggested that he also needed to do burlesque – dressed as a half man half woman - Ian balked at the idea, he did not want to do it, but he also did not want to give the part away. Enter Mr Lola Illusion, a darling, tender and vulnerable character who sings, dances, and weaves his way into audience’s hearts with his magic and illusion tricks. It was as Lola that Ian felt again that moment of joy when an enchanted audience member yelled out ‘Oh, will someone just give him a hug’ he knew he’d really touched some hearts.
Never meaning for Lola to be a political figure, Ian likes how Lola has become a vehicle for some important issues. Lola, is not about gender issues, or sexuality but about the true human experience of love and loss, sadness and joy, that we all have our turn at feeling. Lola transcends the outer experience and journeys deep into the vulnerable heart – perhaps a trick only possible by a magician.
With a plethora of directing, set design, and costume design awards under his belt Ian is an artist of theatre who conjures amazing stories into a visual feast. It can be a tough industry but Ian credits his parent’s steadfast support and excellent role modelling for his resilience and hard work ethic. A genuine love and loyalty to his family is one of the things that keeps him here in Palmerston North, as well as a belief that Palmy deserves good theatre too, so why not do it here.
When queried about whether he is a perfectionist Ian does what perfectionists often do, he acts like he might be a little bit, but it’s because he has a reason. Ian’s reason is that ‘he cares’. He cares about doing things right, in fact I think he possibly agonises about it – from behind the scenes.
Shattering Ian’s Illusions
Ian is a master at making things invisible. I’ve remedied the use of his invisible ink and can reveal here the vast extent of Ian’s work in theatre, although even this is summarised to simply notable achievements:
Abbey Theatre - Directed, choreographed, set design, and costumes (9 shows)
Leader of the pack 2010 Manawatu Theatre Award – Best Direction & Best Production
Sweet Charity 2012 Manawatu Theatre Awards – Costume Design
Hairspray 2013 Manawatu Theatre Awards – Best Choreography & Best Direction
The Best Little 2013 Manawatu Theatre Awards - Best Production of the
Whorehouse in Texas Year
Centrepoint Theatre - Costume designer 2005-present (25 Shows)
Circa Theatre - Wellington
The Mystery of 2015 Wellington Theatre Award- Costume designer of the year
Ache 2015 Wellington Theatre Award – Set designer of the year
La Casa Azul 2016 Wellington Theatre Award- nominated costume 2017
You can experience the Mr Lola illusion show at the Wellington Fringe Festival from the 16th-19th of February at Bats Theatre. To book phone 04 802 4175 or book online at bats.co.nz
With a long career in banking and business you might think that Steve Davey didn’t have an interesting story to tell, but you’d be quite mistaken. For a start, his voice gives away no sign of his Irish roots – Steve moved over when he was six (and still retains memories of soldiers in the streets and rubber bullets) but immediately found his kiwi accent and about the real meaning of ‘bringing a plate’.
Since moving to New Zealand Steve has grown up in Palmerston North and is a proud ‘Palmy Boys’ Old Boy. He didn’t follow his education path to university but jokes that he has held the world record for the longest holiday- job ever. He wasn’t banking on his part-time job at the bank going on past the school holidays but Steve was still there twenty five years later as the regional manager – proving that hard work can be just as effective at achieving success, as getting a university degree.
A natural curiosity about how things work, as well as being thrown into situations where he had to think on his feet, found Steve thriving with the challenges and loving the diversity of roles he filled at the bank. It was there that Steve found his passion for business and with his ear to the ground discovered an opportunity that would fulfill his own yearning to give a business of his own a crack.
Manawatu Business Sales is that business for Steve. When he discovered that the majority of business owners were part of the baby boomer generation and that they would soon be looking to ‘get out’ or retire from their businesses, Steve realised that there were going to be a lot of businesses on the market. With his expertise and networks from his long career, passion for business, and dissatisfaction with how businesses were sold, aligning himself with ABC Business Sales was the perfect choice to enable him to offer great service to his clients.
Steve’s been run off his feet and is thriving with the opportunity to unleash his full potential. He’s a creative thinker and is proud of the problem solving he’s had to do in order to achieve the best results for his clients. He’s got a new purpose built office and is adding team members to help him manage his bulging portfolio of clients. Every day offers new challenges, which is exhilarating for a creative thinker like Steve who’s been released from years in the vaults at the bank!
Steve’s no slouch, he also plays in a masters football team – a game he has been playing since he arrived here- and is a Manchester United fan (remember that’s short for fanatic). He coaches football too, and despite retiring from the game three times he has been drawn back to it in equal amounts. Aside from his dedicated exercise, Steve clocks up an impressive score of fit bit steps while on the phone to clients, he prefers to move about rather than being chained to his desk , and so is an animated figure around the office.
Exuding ‘busy-ness’ in his life, family man Steve likes to cook and subjects his children to his experimental dishes inspired by TV cooking shows (he was a little bashful about this as well as his eagerness to catch the Masterchef finale). It can be hit and miss but he enjoys the challenge, the creative outlet and the good food (most of it is good he reckons).
At Manawatu Business Sales, Steve goes above and beyond for his clients, he just can’t help it. He won’t shrink away from a challenge and wants to get the best outcome for everybody. Steve won’t settle for things that he believes just aren’t good enough and constantly searches for new and better ways to achieve good results. He enjoys the diverse relationships he shares with his clients and is pleased when he receives updates about the new paths they follow after the sale of their business.
When you talk to Steve you won’t find a pushy in your face salesman, what you will find is a quietly confident, respectful, laid back guy. He’s a genuine person that you can trust - consistent, caring and motivated. He has an easy way about him that is neither too laid-back nor too serious – I’d say he’s right where he needs to be to connect with the wide range of people he deals with in business.
If you've got a business to sell you can contact Steve Davey on 06 358 8842
I talk and think a lot, here I share the love and the words and the thoughts. Take it or leave it...