Hudson & Halls Live!
by Kip Chapman with Todd Emerson & Sophie Roberts
Director: Dan Pengelly
Review Date: 15/11/2018
I’ve got an identity crisis! How do you describe the feeling of being behind the scenes, part of the show, and part of the audience? The hubby and I were fortunate to have front row seats at Centrepoint Theatres Christmas production ‘Hudson and Halls Live’ and we got to play all those parts.
If you’re my age (I’m not telling but heading towards vintage and probably more in a cheese way than a wine way) or older you will likely remember the outrageous cooking show ‘Hudson and Halls’ that graced our TV screens from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s. I was too young at the time to think anything other than that they were pretty funny guys who didn’t act the way that other TV cooking shows did with all their wild and chaotic tiffs and shenanigans occurring in front of the camera. It was quite a move away from the staid, one dimensional shows that we were used to. These guys were fabulous, and in a time when it was still illegal in New Zealand to be gay their relationship was the worst kept secret, and we were loving it!
So, this nostalgic show is incredibly clever. It’s so clever it makes my brain hurt thinking about it, and I’m slotting myself into a category of people that will never be clever enough to pull something like this off. It’s a cooking show, it’s a show about creating live TV and managing a live audience, it’s a show about Hudson and Halls, it’s a show that revives the 80’s, it’s a feast of experiences and a recipe for disaster!
Centrepoint general manager Kate Louise Elliot is generally great at managing her role as floor manager Ngaire Watkins who managed all of us audience members who were also part of the ‘live studio audience’ in the show (see it’s clever eh?). This is a huge role and I think the show would be severely affected without her expert management of everything! She was annoying, and funny and bold and I’d like to hug her and then run away because she also kind of scared me.
I want to thank Andrew Laing’s teeth for their role in holding back everything that his character Peter Hudson wanted to say and smiling through it all. Every time I think about that plastered on ‘smile for the TV’ I have a little giggle. Peter Hambleton’s character David Halls was a lot more big hair, big hand movements, and amped up fabulousness. He paired so well with Andrew Laing and honestly I was just sitting there watching all the drama unfold like it was real life—which it actually was. Their roles required a high amount of energy and throughout it all they were cooking a Xmas feast with all the trimmings. These guys were so pro I just basically believed I was watching Hudson and Halls—the originals.
I was fortunate to be there for the Wednesday night Q&A session (which I highly recommend if you get the opportunity) so I got some insight into the preparations for this show. There was a lot of set-up required with all the cooking involved and Henrique Beirao crossed the boundaries between behind the scenes operator and becoming a technical operator on the set of ‘Hudson and Halls Live’. He was a busy guy but played an enjoyable part amongst all the drama.
Overall, I would say that director Dan Pengelly has succeeded again in cooking-up an excellent show using seasoned professionals to make an awful meal that is definitely not the star of the show. I’m hungry for more. Go gorge yourself on the gorgeousness.
P.S I can’t say how this would play out if you have never seen the original TV show because I have, and I can’t undo that. If I had to guess I’d say that it would still be a good fun show, but you may just miss a few layers…
At the Q & A session Andrew Laing pointed those who hadn't heard of Hudson and Halls to this documentary about them which is very insightful.
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