We're thrilled to be welcoming Ali Harper back to the theatre in her new cabaret with jazzman Tom Rainey, Up Close & Personal. In this exclusive Q&A, Ali talks about what audiences can expect from the show and what she got up to during lockdown! 

Ali Harper & Tom Rainey

What inspired you to put on this show?

I love the art of cabaret. I have done several cabaret shows in New York and I find it exciting and so liberating performing as if the audience is in my living room. I have called the show Up Close and Personal so people know exactly what to expect. There is no hiding behind wigs, elaborate costumes or a script - it’s just me with my friend Tom Rainey enjoying music together, telling stories and sharing a night at one of my favourite theatres.

Are you excited to be performing live events again?

I am so hungry to perform again. During my break from performing during lockdown when everything stopped, I spent time parenting, walking, doing online yoga, reading, eating, watching lots of Netflix and looking at who I am, what I do and why do I do it... I feel I have re-charged in a way that has really invigorated me to try new things and challenge myself which is why working alongside Tom is going to be a great fit for me.

Why is live theatre important for our city?

More than ever I have people telling me how excited they are to have tickets to one of my shows coming up. As a community we need to laugh and cry and feel the comradery that a group of people feel together in a theatre. After all we have gone through I have a feeling live performances are going to be in hot demand!

How long have you known Tom and what have you previously worked on together?

I have worked with Tom for various concerts over the years with the CSO. The past 6 months we have really got to know one another as we worked tirelessly recording my latest album and putting together my Burt Bacharach tribute concert The Look of Love. We were about to go out on tour but then lockdown happened. We managed to do our Nelson date which was wonderful and now we have our re-scheduled Christchurch dates to look forward to in September.    

What kind of music can audiences expect from this cabaret-style show?

 In Up Close and Personal people can expect quite a varied selection of musical styles. We are after all drawing from our own individual repertoire and creating new treatments of well loved songs as well as some songs that highlight life and such. Tom has worked with stars like Cher and The Beach Boys and well, I have ‘portrayed’ stars such as Judy Garland, Doris Day and Edith Piaf so it’s going to make for quite a musical feast.

 Up Close & Personal with Ali Harper & Tom Rainey runs from 5 - 8 August. You can learn more & book tickets here.