Madeleines to bring jazz swing show to Whitianga

Madeleines to bring jazz swing show to Whitianga

CK Updated
Madeleines to bring jazz swing show to Whitianga

Vintage inspired vocals trio, The Madeleines are all set to transport you back to a golden era with an evening of classic harmonies and glamour. I caught up with songstress Hannah Kee to learn about her personal connection to Whitianga, what audiences can look forward to at the upcoming June event, and how The Madeleines were created amid a pandemic.


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After returning to New Zealand in 2020 when Covid19 shut down theatres and halted international stage careers, Hannah Kee, Shannon Evison, and Jess Rogers (pictured above) decided to create the Madeleines. And lucky us to have them back in New Zealand!
 
Between The Madeleines trio there’s an incredible wealth of international musical experience which they’ll be packing into their show bought to you by Beat Fairy Events at the Monkey House Theatre June 11.

Whitianga – Get ready for The Madeleines Hollywood cabaret!

The trio will be offering the Whitianga audience sweet, sophisticated harmonies, glamorous costumes, and neatly choreographed moves.
 
Classic 40s wartime music is where the Madeleines started, adding favourite harmonies from acts like the Andrews Sisters and incorporating a vintage twist to each song they perform. And, for the Whitianga show the Madeleines have created a special Hollywood cabaret theme.

We’ll be singing, telling the story of our group, and talking about the music we’re singing. We hope our audience will get a little bit of a look into the songs, how they were created, and where they're from. And then just a little bit about us and how we came together as a group, showing our personalities rather than just standing and singing the music. And we’d love people to dress up in that fancy glam style. It should be really fun. 

– Hannah Kee, Singer The Madeleines.

Get tickets to the Madeleines now

Tickets are on sale now for a Night with The Madeleines. To get tickets and for more information go to All About Whitianga events.

Vocalist Hannah Kee of the Madeleines  

The Whitianga connection and the path to an international stage career

Madeleines vocalist Hannah Kee (pictured above) was bitten by the performance bug from the tender age of four. She absolutely loved the McDonald’s Young Entertainers television show and admits that this led her to practically ‘force’ her mother to get her local dance lessons.

And, for her the June performance at the Monkey House Theatre is one that is very much anticipated as this is the venue where she first learnt to dance as a child.

My parents enrolled me with Jolene Murray who was the local dance teacher in Whitianga. Her dance studio was based at the Monkey House Theatre, so this is where I initially learnt to dance and performed many shows. I attended both Mercury Bay Area School and Te Rerenga, so the Mercury Bay was a big part of my life as a child. It really is very exciting and special to be coming back to perform our show at the Monkey House theatre.

– Hannah Kee, The Madeleines
 
As she grew older Hannah’s dance lessons expanded to as many styles as possible including ballet, tap and jazz and whatever she could enroll in locally. By the age of ten her parents were driving her from Whitianga to Thames twice a week for ballet lessons. In her early teens the family then made the big decision to move to Tauranga for her to pursue more formal ballet school training at the Dance Education Centre. So serious was the commitment to dance that Hannah did her last two senior years via homeschool to fit around competitions and dance training.
 
Hannah got accepted into an English dance school at 16 and admits it was disappointing when she was unable to make the expensive overseas move. However, ‘for fun’ she had also just auditioned for musical Starlight Express – and as it happened got a part. Next thing she was on a New Zealand tour as a professional (and importantly) paid performer!
 
After discovering singing ‘clicked’ for her during this first musical role Hannah then went to Australia and studied musical theatre. From there a 12-year international musical career was born with gigs across numerous continents on stages such as the West End.
 
Hannah enjoyed the variety of musicals that she was involved in which included multiple tours of the Blues Brothers, Ratpack, Starlight Express and Broadway Christmas Wonderland, and 50 Shades of Grey.

How Covid-19 kick started The Madeleines

When Hannah’s Tasmanian musical 50 Shades of Grey got canceled as Covid-19 spread, it really made her assess what she wanted in life. She was ready to put down some roots and settle.

She decided at that point to move home to NZ and knew she didn’t want to be undertaking the rigours of international tours and musical theatre anymore.
 
That’s when Hannah met up with fellow vocalist Shannon and they developed the concept of starting their own group. Being in charge creatively of what we they were putting out into the world was a shared goal. And pandemic or not, the Madeleines were born!

We were a little bit concerned that first there would not being enough demand in New Zealand for our shows. We kept having these false starts, you know.  We’d be locked down, and we're coming back out, but then it was red again. Not ideal for a while, but now it's soaring. It's really, exciting. People are hungry for live entertainment now, like they love it! Especially after COVID I think people just want something fun to do, you know, people are much more in the moment.

– Hannah Kee, The Madeleines

Go to the official Madeleines website more information.

10 ‘quick fire’ questions with Hannah Kee

All About Whitianga: What kind of ‘gigs’ do the Madeleines get booked for?
 
Hannah Kee: Plenty of wildly different things actually. Shows like the upcoming Monkey House performance, bars and clubs, events like New Zealand fashion week and in venues like the Auckland Art Gallery.
 
As our style appeals to the older generation, we perform at 80th and 60th birthdays and work in the bigger retirement homes.  This is very cool because everybody's up there dancing, and they come up to afterwards to tell us how they remember dancing to that song. And they just all look so like happy and amazed that we care about the music.
 
Do the Madeleines also perform more modern songs?
Yes, but we always do them with a sort of vintage twist and in the harmony trio. And we've been developing a few new songs like some kiwi classics to our repertoire. We know that as much as we love vintage music, not everybody knows it all of the time and people love to hear songs that they know.
 
Initially you were so involved in dance – why did you move to focusing on singing?
When I was on my first NZ tour in Starlight Express, I'd always done singing for fun. But once I was in this musical I was like, oh my god, I love this. I absolutely loved it. And I also realized that dancing is a tough life. And I really liked cheeseburgers. So, I think the singing was more for me!
 
Who is your favourite artist?
To be honest, I think for The Madeleines our favorites are the classic Andrews Sisters because the harmonies that they made were so beautifully created for three voices, and because they were all sisters, they blended together so well so trying to recreate that is really. A lot of the more modern songs are fun, but they don't have that authentic artistry of molding three voices together like the Andrews Sisters. It's really hard to recreate.
 
Outside of The Madeleines what is your favourite genre of music?
I really like hip hop. I love a huge eclectic mix of music, and I do listen to a lot of it. But that's not appropriate for the retirement villages!
 
Favourite all time song?
My Girl by the temptations.
 
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue a career in performance like you?
My advice is that people should only do it if they really, really want it. You must dedicate 100% of yourself to, if you're not dedicating 100%, there are a million other people who are. If you think you might do a little bit of it, that isn't really going to cut it. You have to give your whole self to it.
 
What’s your favourite memory of living in the Mercury Bay as a child?
I went to Te Rerenga country school. There were only 60 students from year zero to year eight and my mum was the teacher. I think for four years she was my teacher the whole entire time which was great. And because it was such a small school just having those very, very close friendships – I’ve got such fond memories of being there.
 
Do you have a favourite place to go in the Mercury Bay?
Otama is my favorite beach since my childhood. Every time I visit Mercury Bay, I'm like, right, we're going to Otama. And then on the way back, we're getting an ice cream from the Kuaotunu store.
 
What would you be doing if you weren’t in The Madeleines?
Well, I'm at uni now as well. So, I'm studying to be a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter. I would love to be able to combine it with the arts like if there's a musical on deaf people can come and that will be translated. There should be more access to interpreters, so I'd love to make that more accessible. Currently I'm studying part time and the more I learn the more I love it, the deaf community is so beautiful.

Related Links

The Monkey House Theatre VenueMonkey House Lounge and Cabaret

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