Hastings District Councillor Malcolm Dixon got a lot more than he bargained for when he went to watch Songs For The Fallen at the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival last Friday night.

Little did he know that his decision to sit with his wife and another couple in the front row of the Spiegeltent would have a hilarious outcome on his experience of the cabaret show.

"We sat in the third row when we went to Daffodils but we had trouble seeing the projector, so my wife thought the front row would be a better option."

The show kicked off and within the first five minutes Mademoiselle made her move towards Mr Dixon.


"She came down to where I was and asked me my name so I replied "Malcolm".

At this point I did not really think anything of it." Mademoiselle, the courtesan and party girl, used his name throughout the show, as if he was one of the main characters.

"Whenever she was desperate for a man she would say "Malcolm you are the man for me" but if she was not she would use the actual male characters."

He said it was all quite funny, as she then brought out a glass of white wine and asked him to share it with her.

"We shared a rather nice glass of sauvignon blanc together in front of everyone. I thought to myself 'oh well it is still all going well'."

During the show Mr Dixon had been chatting to the woman on his left and before he could say anything everything went up a notch.

"Mademoiselle told me it was time for a romp on the bed. She took me to the bed and they also took the woman who was on my left."

"It was not until we were up on stage in front of everyone lying on the bed that she asked the other lady, "is that your husband" and much to Mademoiselle's surprise she said no. It was hilarious, as they must have got the couples all mixed up."

He said despite being gifted as the show's extra he enjoyed every minute of it.

"It was a very good show with laughter the whole way through it."

Mr Dixon's moment of fame had not put him off from attending the Spiegeltent but he said he will not be found anywhere near the front.

"We are off to see Mahara on Wednesday, which I am really looking forward to, but I won't be making the mistake of sitting in the front row again anytime soon."

Review: Festival even more fab

Songs For the Fallen
Shane Anthony and Critical Stages
Village Green
Havelock North
Harcourt Hawke's Bay Arts Festival
Reviewed by Rachel Wise

It was with trepidation that I approached the Village Green on Friday night for my first experience of this year's Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival.

Last year was so good. This year had a lot to live up to.

I was a bit concerned about this new Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent for a start. I'd heard it was ... modern.

Surely that wouldn't do? What of the atmosphere, the history that infused last year's fabulous venue.

I was unconvinced.

But I had read the programme, I had made my picks, and Friday night's show - Songs for the Fallen - well, my programme had been sporting a bright yellow note on that page for more than a month.

First though, I had to negotiate the new Festival Garden, which proved to be a bit of a distraction. Funky furnishing and the convenience of food, a bar, coffee ... what a welcoming space, a fab idea.

I saw familiar faces and there was room for a chat, a wander, it made the venue seem larger, expansive.

The spiegeltent issue had still to be broached.

There was a sell-out crowd lined up to go in, and yes it was, as I had heard, a larger space. But there were still booths, mirrors, and stained glass, much to my relief.

Mirrors etched with Kiwi flora, woodwork embellished with paua, a tented roof with Maori motifs. The atmosphere was intact.

The circled audience still had that special intimacy. The table in our booth still wobbled ... just like last year.

The show? Magic, enthralling, hilarious.

The story of legendary 19th century courtesan and muse Marie Duplessis, written, performed, sung and embellished by Sheridan Harbridge.

Marie goes from rags to riches and back again and takes the audience with her, laughing and crying all the way.

Harbridge's voice is astounding, her cast delightful and her humour romps from 1800 to 2016 and back again.

But you've missed this show ... it finished on Saturday. Don't miss any more! Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival, you've done it again.