This weekend we want to go to….
Auckland Arts Festival
Mirror, mirror on the wall – what will we do this weekend?
We're spoiled for choice because the annual Auckland Arts Festival is underway and there are rich pickings for anyone interested in top-quality local and international theatre, music, dance and visual arts. The Aotea Centre hosts Ballet Preljocaj's enthralling Snow White which features costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier and is described as "high fashion meets iconic fairytale" in a dark, delectable and visually ravishing retelling.
Snow White, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre, until Sunday.
A world first – Black Ties, the first Māori/Aboriginal rom-com – is theatre made by local company Te Rēhia and Australia's Ilbijerri to reimagine the ever-popular wedding rom-com genre that we're all familiar with. This time, though, it's given a first nations perspective with a cast that includes Lana Garland, Laughton Kora, Tainui Tukiwaho, Brady Peeti and festival favourite Uncle Jack Charles.
Black Ties, Waitakere Room, Aotea Centre until Sunday.
Mad about miniatures? Direct for Belgium comes possibly the smallest and most astonishing theatre event you could see this year. Performers' allow their fingers to do the walking – and talking and everything else in a show staged in front of an audience, filmed and projected live in perfect synchronicity.
Cold Blood, ASB Waterfront Theatre, until Saturday.
Sticking with unique experiences only offered at an arts festival, Biladurang is a solo show by proud Wiradjuri dancer and performer Joel Bray performed in a hotel room where Bray explores indigenous queer identity, sexuality and takes a bath. With only 17 other audience members, it's an intimate and confessional encounter.
Biladurang, Avani Auckland Metropolis Residences, until Sunday, March 22.
What sort of festival would it be without a boundary-pushing cabaret? Limbo Unhinged ticks this box with circus masters Strut & Fret bringing to Auckland its much-loved blend of fiery pyrotechnics, sword-swallowing and acrobatics.
Limbo Unhinged, Spiegeltent in Aotea Square, until Sunday March 22.
The Mormons are here! Strictly speaking, that's not true; rather, it's a bunch of ultra-talented and slickly costumed musical theatre stars sending up religion – and pretty much everything else about contemporary life – in one of the biggest musicals to hit the stage in the last decade. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, this nine-time Tony Award winner has sold out all around the world because it's funny, heart-warming and full of catchy songs that you really don't want to be caught singing in public.
The Book of Mormon, Civic Theatre, until Sunday, April 26.
Bruce Mason Centre
UK comedian Russell Brand cancelled his sold-out Perth show because of concerns about COVID-19 but, at the time of this going to press, he was still on his way to Auckland for his 90 minute "funny and profane exploration" into personal development and wellness from a man who knows what it takes to save your sanity – well, his at least. Brand, it's claimed, will offer an alternative vision for life at a time devoid of real values and connection.
Russell Brand, Recovery Live, Bruce Mason Centre, Saturday and Sunday.