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    AUSXIP Lucy Lawless News and Multimedia: September 2017 Archives

September 2017 Archives

29 September 2017

Pleasuredome Opening Night Curtain Call Video

SPECTACULAR PREMIERE OF PLEASUREDOME! It looks like Pleasuredome got off to an awesome start with the premiere of the show in Auckland last night.


The party is just getting started!

A post shared by Red Carpet Productions Ltd (@redcarpetnz) on



29 September 2017

Behind The Scenes at Pleasuredome + Photos From Show!


The following article and images are courtesy of Paperboy, a free magazine published in New Zealand. Paperboy interviewed Rob, Michael Hurst and Charlie McDermott about Pleasuredome before the premiere.

For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite

Pleasuredome, a new musical extravaganza, has global ambitions

Behind The Scenes at Pleasuredome: Interview with Rob and Charlie

Give me the night

by Rosabel Tan / 28 September, 2017

In an anonymous industrial building in Avondale, Lucy Lawless and her producer husband, Rob Tapert, present Pleasuredome, a musical extravaganza set in the disco era in New York. Behind the razzle dazzle? Hopes that Auckland will be a fruitful testing ground for global ambitions.

Sitting innocuously in the heart of Avondale’s industrial zone is a warehouse with ocean-blue tinted windows that was once the home of a glass manufacturer. It’s so unassuming you’d think you were in the wrong place – if it weren’t for the sign at the entrance announcing PLEASUREDOME in a neon-pink typeface.

Even more unassuming is the scene through the front doors: a half-furnished office, so banal and unoccupied it feels like the set for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Currently it’s serving as the temporary headquarters for the “1980s musical destination” that’s been built in a sprawling factory out the back. Described by the team as a “Disneyland for adults” with a “dirty urban musical” at the centre, Pleasuredome combines an impressive full-scale replica of a New York city street – complete with working food vendors, bars, shops and a gaming arcade – with an arena-style stage spectacular that looks more to Vegas than any traditional theatre outlet for inspiration.


The narrative of the show is more opaque. Most of the promotional material focuses on the experience of being transported to the 1980s, but Pleasuredome is ultimately a love story. Set in 1984, against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic and the disco era, we meet Sappho (played by Lucy Lawless), whose titular nightclub is being threatened with demolition by a Trump-ian figure, and who falls in love while trying to save her club. It’s a story told through more than 30 songs, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Annie Lennox to George Clinton.


“There’s the show,” director Michael Hurst tells me, laughing, “and then there’s ‘The Show.’” Hurst is leading a cast of 20 actors, singers and dancers, among them Lawless, Vince Harder (The Lion King) and Stephen Lovatt (Neighbours, Top of the Lake). “I’m standing there, looking at the stage, and behind me are three full tables of computers and mixers – for the sound and light show, and the projections. It’s like directing a movie.”

That’s no surprise given who’s behind this ambitious project: American film and TV producer Rob Tapert (also known as Lucy Lawless’s husband), the man behind some of New Zealand’s best-known fantasy TV (Xena, Hercules, Spartacus) and a splattering of cult horrors (The Grudge, The Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe). “Rob came here in 1993 and he’s never really left,” says Hurst. “He loves it here, and he’s created an awful lot of work here, and he’s made people’s careers. I would not be the director I am if I hadn’t had a chance to work with Rob.”

Pleasuredome is one of those projects that’s tugged at Tapert for decades, so much so that it’s had multiple lives. “For many years,” he tells me in the boardroom upstairs, “I tried to push it as a movie.” They got close to it a few times, engaging choreographers and composers, but it never quite got there.

The idea for it came from two distinct nights, 20 years apart. The first was in the spring of 1980, when 25-year-old Tapert found himself with his business partners at a hardcore gay club in New York. The experience opened his eyes. “I’ve never been so shocked in my life,” he tells me. “Here was a whole culture that existed that I knew nothing about.”

The second took place two decades later, when he flew to New York with writer and director Mark Beesley (Savage Honeymoon, Outrageous Fortune). The pair had been working on the final season of Xena – Tapert as producer and Beesley as a director. “We were going to wrap up that final season with a two-hour climax in which Xena is killed off, which he knew would be tricky – and heavy – for fans,” Beesley recalls. Their plan was to make the penultimate episode a lighter musical. “I was going to direct. It was going to be set in Ancient Greece.”


That night they went to a nightclub called Club El Flamingo. The Donkey Show was playing, a wild and sweaty adaptation of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream set to disco music. “We knew it was something special,” says Tapert. “We knew we wanted to take infectious songs and use them in a new context, pulling out the meanings that are hidden in the lyrics.”

Although that musical Xena episode didn’t pan out, the pair kept emailing back and forth over the years. “And then one night,” Beesley recalls, “I was in a little cottage at Karekare, in the middle of the native bush, and I had the stereo up really loud – all these 1980s tracks: Luther Vandross’ ‘The Night I Fell in Love’, [Grandmaster Flash’s] ‘White Lines’. I was onto my second pack of cigarettes at that stage, and I had a lonely little dance around the lounge and got lost in the music. And in those moments, I realised how great these songs were.  It didn’t need to be some sub-Xena adventure with songs. It needed to be about something I cared about.”

Beesley ditched the fantasy setting and instead wrote about those underground club communities in the 1980s. “What they were struggling with – with HIV being undiagnosed, losing people, that idea that the age of disco and the hedonism of the 1970s was coming to an end.” He saw it as a story about loss, freedom, and – most of all – redemption. “It was going to be a movie,” he says. “Or possibly a telemovie, or maybe a TV series.”

So how did it become a stage show? “Mark said all along it should be a play, and that we should get Michael Hurst [as director],” says Tapert. He refused at first. “I said: ‘that’s not the business I’m in.’” But then Beesley pulled out, and in 2013, Hurst came on, helping translate it into a live experience with help from writers Dan Musgrove and Gareth Williams. “All the things that have fallen into place,” says Tapert, “tell me this is the right time and the right place for this project.”

The second time I visit the set, it’s two weeks from opening and the crew are working around the clock. “These guys have been here since 1am,” says Romola Lang, one of the show’s two general managers, gesturing at a group of men in fluoro vests banging on some poles. They’ll be there until lunch, at which point the cast will arrive for rehearsals. “That’s one of the complicated parts of this,” she says. “We’re creating the venue as well as the show.”

It’s a project of unthinkable scale – a step up from that other west Auckland millionaire’s offering at Woah! Studios. Pleasuredome’s pop-up nightclub will seat 800 people, and they’re hoping to see 70,000 come through its doors over the next couple of months.

In the boardroom, I ask Tapert and Charlie McDermott (founder of Basement Theatre and a producer on Pleasuredome) about risk. The show isn’t publicly funded, and even at this late stage they’re pulling in sponsors. “I’ve violated every rule I’ve ever lived by as a producer on this,” says Tapert. Which are? “Never use your own money. That’s rule number one. Rule number two?” He shakes his head. “It’s the same rule.”

“But,” he adds, “this was something we had to plunge into.” He says this with the conviction of a man who’s been dreaming about this show his entire adult life.

So how much is it costing them? “Are we allowed to say?” McDermott asks. “It would give no context,” Tapert shrugs. “Let me put it this way: it’s the highest budget for a theatre show generated from this country.” I ask if it’s costing more than the Pop-Up Globe and he chuckles. “Much more than the Globe. And more than Matilda, if you take away their marketing spend.”

“On the Globe,” McDermott adds – he speaks fast and loud and evangelically, as though everybody is a potential investor, drawing on the vocabulary of tech start-ups.  “I love Miles [Gregory]. He’s been a disrupter, and I love disruptive people. But I would say this: they got half of it right. They got the experience right. But ultimately, content is king.” And while Pleasuredome is focussed on creating an immersive experience, he says, it’s nowhere without a compelling story and great performances.

The pair are also taking a unique approach to development. Broadway shows tend to follow a common trajectory, rehearsing for six months and performing in a small venue for 12, refining and refining ahead of their premiere. “And we went, well, that’s crazy.” McDermott exclaims. “We live here.”

Instead, they’re hoping to run this season in Auckland before taking it offshore – recognising that even if they lose money on this season, it will still serve as a valuable testing ground. Tapert calls it their calling card. McDermott calls it their minimum viable product. Either way, they see it only as a starting point.

“In order to fulfil its destiny,” Tapert explains, “it has to leave New Zealand.” But before it does, it heads into a six-week season, in that unassuming converted warehouse on the edge of the motorway, with one particularly special feature that no other audience will get. “I would not build the street again,” Tapert laughs, referring to the diner, the food trucks, the bars, the games arcade. “The street is a very lucky get.”





Links: Paperboy Onlin


For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite



27 September 2017

The Changeover: Lucy Video Talking About Co-Star

Short video of Lucy talking about the star of The Changeover, Erana James, who plays the role of Laura Chant.

For more about Lucy’s role on The Changeover, hop on over to the AUSXIP Lucy Lawless The Changeover subsite

Here’s the small clip!



25 September 2017

Video: Lucy Interviewed At Pleasuredome NZ Seven Sharp 25 September 2017

Lucy is interviewed at Pleasuredome (I was going to say the Pleasuredome set but this thing is HUGE! The following segment is from the NZ show Seven Sharp. It’s a 3 minute segment looking at the making of the street and the authenticity of the shops etc.

For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite





24 September 2017

Sunday: Lawless–Lucy Lives By Her Own Rules 24 September 2017

The NZ newspaper Sunday Star Times magazine supplement Sunday has an awesome interview with Lucy. Here are the scans and the transcript can be found on their site here









Additional images from the online version


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Read the transcript here

For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite



22 September 2017

Vice Interviews Lucy Lawless 22 September 2017


Vice interviews Lucy.

The actor, activist and feminist icon on being snooped on by oil companies, why young people today are too tame and the allure of the eighties.

This is the VICE Interview. We ask famous and/or interesting people the same set of questions in a bid to peek deep into his or her psyche.

Lucy Lawless is a New Zealand institution, known both for playing feminist icon Xena: Warrior Princess, and for being one in her own right—see, for proof, that time that she scaled an Arctic-bound oil-drilling ship. We submitted Lawless to the VICE Interview as her new show Pleasuredome The Musical opens in Auckland.

Read Full Interview

For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite



21 September 2017

Video: Lucy and Green Party Leader Chat

Lucy’s in full Sappho mode (love the hair, reminds me of her Disco Lucy hair way back when - see below for those video clips) with James Shaw leader of the Green Party of New Zealand

For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite


Remember Disco Lucy?





For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite



20 September 2017

Two New Xena and Gabrielle Poster Art by Calli

Call has created two new Xena Posters! Check them out below!

You can find more of Calli's art on her site - Calli's Creations which is hosted on AUSXIP

xenaposter1-2017 xenaposter2-2017



19 September 2017

Interview with Rob Tapert on Xena, Spartacus and His Latest Show Pleasuredome!

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt.

What do The Evil Dead, Xena, Spartacus and an immersive 80s extravaganza live theatre spectacular have in common? If you guessed Rob Tapert, you’ve got the chocolate fish.

It’s very exciting to get a chance to talk to a person who’s brought jobs and about a billion dollars of overseas investment to New Zealand. He’s helped build an industry and inspire local film and TV.

Which is no mean feat, especially when you’re doing it on the other side of the world from his native America. That’s the kind of extra challenge that Tapert has thrived on and had a track record of pulling off. The latest of these is Pleasure Dome. To find out about what that is and about show business, Rob joined me in conversation in a secret location in West Auckland.




17 September 2017

NZ Herald On Sunday: Welcome To The Pleasuredome

Next week sees the previews of Pleasuredome begin in earnest (from 22 – 27 September) and then the world premiere will be on 28 September. The following snippet is from the NZ Herald on Sunday 17 September 2017 Issue. For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite



Tickets for the previews can be found here


What is Pleasuredome?
A high energy 1980's musical set in a site specific warehouse built to transport you to the streets of NYC.

Where are we?
Pleasuredome takes place in a site specific warehouse off Rosebank Rd in Auckland. Upon purchase of tickets you will be communicated the exact address.

Who are we?
Lucy Lawless (Xena Warrior Princess) will to play Sappho, the shows sexy, hedonistic diva whose lavish performances have made Pleasuredome the legendary nightclub of excess. Moses McKay (Sole Mio), Ashleigh Barlow (Wicked), Vince Harder (The Lion King) Stephen Lovett (Neighbours) plus a 20 strong cast of some of New Zealand’s best dancers and drag queens for what’s set to be a theatrical experience never seen before in NZ. The show is Directed by Michael Hurst (Chicago), and produced by Rob Tapert (Ash vs Evil Dead).

How do I get there?
Getting there is easy with limited free parking, easy access from public transport and an uber deal that will be sent to you in your further information pack a week out from the show.


Hail a Cab
We have a taxi rank all set up which makes it super easy to get here and back again.

Cruise in an Uber
Our friends at Uber have offered a special promo of $15 off. After purchasing your tickets your unique code will be sent to you in the days before the show with an information pack.

Catch a Bus
Here is the link to the bus stop just around the corner.

Park your car
Limited parking is available on and near the site upon purchasing your tickets.

Crossing the Road
Patiki road is a busy road! Please take care at any crossing point. We will have some pedestrian signage up during event hours.

We are in a secret site specific location on Patiki Road, when you purchase your tickets the exact address will be included.



16 September 2017

CNN Readers Share Most Inpsired TV Women Choices - Xena Included!

ImageCNN readers share which TV women most inspired them

Xena Warrior Princess

Lucy Lawless as Xena, "Xena: Warrior Princess" – Gwen Frederick, 54: "'Xena: Warrior Princess' as played by Lucy Lawless. A woman on a redemptive mission who could 'out woman' and 'out man' anyone, all at the same time! The character inspired me to be fearless in my dreams and pursuits (I changed
careers because of her) and to never give up in spite of obstacles or past mistakes."

Full List here



13 September 2017

Will Lucy Appear On The Show Wynonna Earp?

Looks like a wish to have Lucy appear in Season 3 of Wynonna Earp may become reality if Lucy’s tweet in response to the ‘Get Lucy On Wynonna Earp PR juggernaut’. Entertainment Weekly jumped in on the action (as did William Shatner..wonder if Bill watches Wynonna Earp or he just loved the idea of jumping in). I have seen one episode of the show at the urging of my dear friend Christa who has a history of introducing me to great shows and entertainers. She should know right? She’s a two time Emmy Award winning producer. So I saw my first episode. I REALLY liked the sass, the motorcycle, the VERY cute Agent AND more importantly, the writing. Love the writing. VERY funny and the comedic timing is fantastic. We shall see what becomes of this latest addition to my must see shows.

Anyhoo getting back to Lucy…


Why do they want Lucy (who doesn’t want Lucy but that’s not the point right now)

The season 2 finale of Wynonna Earp ended with one mother of a cliffhanger: Wynonna goes to meet her mother. Putting aside the fact that Wynonna knows where her mother has been and that the Earp matriarch seems to know about demons herself, we are most concerned with who Mama Earp is. Although we got a glimpse of her from the back — with great Earp hair, of course — showrunner Emily Andras told EW that the role hasn’t yet been cast. However, she jokingly said, “Lucy Lawless, call me immediately!” Fans took the idea and ran with it.


On Friday, a fan tweeted at Lawless, asking her to join the Syfy series, and the Xena actress said “Certainly. When and where?” Andras replied on Saturday to let Lawless know she would take her up on that offer, saying “I’ll go through official, non-twitter channels, but want you to know how much #Earpers (and our cast) would love to see this happen.” (Click the tweets below to follow the whole thread.)



Then of course when Entertainment Weekly got into the act…so did Lucy by tweeting the article. It’s quite amusing to see this play out.




LOL! This tickled me. Although I’m not an Earper (that’s what Wynonna Earp fans are known as), the show would get a whole lot of Xenites watching if Lucy is in the show.



11 September 2017

Making Of The Changeover Artwork & Video

The Changeover is a supernatural thriller and Lucy’s role is Miryam Carlisle, Sorenson's Mother - A Witch. It’s a brief video but we have a look at Lucy with white hair. Took the opportunity for some quick art. Video below! For more about Lucy's role on The Changeover head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless The Changeover subsite

Click on the image for the larger version




11 September 2017

Lucy’s Speech at NZ Greens Climate Policy Launch 10-09-17

Lucy attended the NZ Greens Climate Policy and gave a short speech.



11 September 2017

Lucy at NZ Green Party Climate Policy Launch 10 September 2017

Lucy attended and spoke at the New Zealand Green Party Climate Policy Launch in Auckland yesterday (10 September 2017). New Zealand will be going to a general election on 23 September 2017.

click on the smaller image for the larger scan.



and from twitter



8 September 2017

Pleasuredome The Musical - What Is This Musical About

Pleasuredome The Musical
We can talk Pleasuredome all the way back to the bangin’ 80’s, but we thought we’d hand the mic over to our incredible cast and crew, and give them opportunity to present their take on what this musical is all about.

For more about Lucy's role as Sappho in Pleasuredome Musical head on over to AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Pleasuredome subsite

Click play – and immerse yourself!




7 September 2017

Rob Tapert Talks About The Xena Reboot - The World Needs A Superhero Like Xena

xenagab"The world needs a superhero like Xena as much now as it ever did," Rob Tapert said in a recent interview with Fairfax media ( on Xena's 22nd birthday.

Rob believes it's only a matter of time before the show gets back off the ground and it's something he will "never give up on".

"The time is probably always going to be right in bringing it back, but there's no point in doing it if it doesn't find a way to capture what worked in the original, but still give the audience something they feel is fresh and new.

"There have been a few attempts, and for various reasons they have hit a brick wall, but there's always going to be a market for it, there's always going to be a desire for it."

US-born Tapert, who is currently producing the immersive musical theatre production Pleasuredome with his wife, says the recent roadblocks have come down to changes he and the Xena team have not been willing to make.

"In the developmental process, one organisation said 'we really want to do this, we see it as our brand'...Then they said, 'now that we think about it, swords and sandals never really worked for us'."

But the hardest thing is trying to find the right tone for any future version of the show.

"The original show went from being able to have Xena and Gabrielle hating each other through to stupid comedy about nits and foot rot, so the scope of the canvas it was painted on was so huge, to now start again and figure out where on that spectrum is the right starting tone for a modern-day audience.

"There's a big difference between Game of Thrones and Rogue One and Wonder Woman and 300. It's a pretty wide spectrum, and Xena slots into all of those in its own way.

"Me personally, I like the dumb comedy stuff. But watch this space."




6 September 2017

22 Years Ago A Warrior Princess and Her Bard Queen Changed The World...

ImageThere are very few shows that can lay claim to a simple truth - they changed lives. Xena Warrior Princess is that show that not only changed the lives of it's creators / actors but also the entire Xena fandom.

22 Year Ago a show that got spun off from Hercules went on to beat it and other shows like Baywatch and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

22 Years Ago...the fandom is GROWING and GROWING. We are not going away.

22 Years Ago..a legend was born.

Happy Birthday Warrior Princess and her Bard Queen.

Battle On!




5 September 2017

What You Never Knew About Xena: Warrior Princess


This is pretty much old news for Xenites but hey any article about Xena is always welcome!

What You Never Knew About Xena: Warrior Princess

TODAY marks the 22nd anniversary of Xena: Warrior Princess, who first came into our lives in 1995 and has remained a major part of pop culture ever since.

For many, Xena was an icon of feminism, female empowerment and strength and became an icon for the LGBT community thanks to her challenging ideas of masculinity and femininity, and her relationship with sidekick Gabrielle.

So to celebrate all that Xena’s given us over the years, here are a few facts you may not have known about the show, complete with tributes from around the Twittersphere from fans celebrating this auspicious day.


Xena is so ingrained in pop culture now that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part, but she wasn’t actually the first choice for it.

The first choice was British actress Vanessa Angel, who starred in the TV adaptation of Weird Science. However Angel fell ill before she was supposed to fly to the set and Tapert eventually decided on giving Lawless the role.


Renee O’Connor has similarly become the only face fans could imagine playing Xena’s trusty sidekick and love interest Gabrielle, but she also wasn’t the first choice.

Sunny Doench was meant for the role but backed out, reportedly because she didn’t want to leave her partner in the States. Lucky break for us, but not so much for her.


Xena was originally going to be blonde, but Lucy Lawless died her hair black.

Lawless decided that an Amazonian princess should look more like Gabriela Sabatini who was “the big noise in tennis” at the time.

In an interview for the Emmys, Lawless said: “I was like, ‘What about being like her? She’s big and bronze and dark-haired.’ Fortunately they went that way, because my hair would have fallen out if we tried to keep it blonde.”


The credits regularly had a fake disclaimer similar to the Humane Association messages saying “no animals have been harmed”.

It started as an occasional joke in season one, but by season two, every single episode had disclaimers like, “Despite Gabrielle’s incessant hurling, Ulysses’ ship was not harmed during the making of this motion picture”, “No harpies were harmed in the making of this episode”, “No oversized Polynesian-style Bamboo Horses were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However many wicker lawn chairs gave their lives,” and in an episode featuring Xena’s death; “Xena was permanently harmed in the making of this motion picture, but kept her spirits up.”

Fans caught on and started keeping track of each message via internet forums. Which brings us to the next point.


Speculation has always been rife over the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle and through many interviews over the years, the cast and crew have confirmed that gay subtext was done entirely on purpose.

But while the relationship was never made explicitly clear on the show, Lawless told Lesbian News in 2003 that Xena was “Gay. Gay, definitely.” Not bisexual, not pansexual, not even just curious and experimenting — as far as she’s concerned Xena and Gabrielle, “They’re married, man.”


While nowadays, we use the internet for pretty much everything all the time, the 90s were a different time. Yet somehow, Xena managed to grow an online fandom.

The Xena fandom was one of the first to utilize the net to discuss their favourite show via the Xena Online Community board.

The Xena fandom was so strong that it only just had its final convention in 2015, a full 14 years after the show ended, and the online forums are still alive and thriving.


Xena was originally only brought into Hercules because producer Rob Tapert wanted a dark figure to counterbalance the cheerful and heroic Hercules.

She was supposed to be there for three episodes and then die, but Tapert and the other producers liked Xena so much that they remodelled their previously planned Hercules spin-off just for her.

Praise the TV Gods.

This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.