Set to perform at The Monkey House Theatre on Saturday 11 June, The Madeleines - a vintage vocal trio made up of international musical theatre performers, Hannah Kee, Shannon Evison and Jess Rogers - have banded together to perform on home soil.
Hannah, now a professional touring singer and performing artist, got her first taste for the limelight in, of all places, The Monkey House Theatre in Whitianga as a ballet, jazz and tap dance student. “I grew up here in Whitianga and I practically lived at the theatre,” she says.
“I started dancing when I was four years old. I was taught by a woman called Jolene Murray, who was a bit of a grandmother figure to me, but has sadly passed away.”
When Hannah began to enter competitions, it meant much more commuting for her parents, not only to the competitions, but also to extra lessons in Thames. “It got to the point where my parents decided it would just be worth relocating as we spent so much time travelling around for my dancing, resulting in a big move to Tauranga when I was 12 years old,” she says. “This move did allow for more opportunities for me, but I always missed Jolene and the little theatre in Whitianga I had spent so much time in. I don’t actually dance much anymore. Ever since getting into my first musical when I was 16, I completely fell in love with singing.”
When she decided she would like to pursue a future in musical theatre, Hannah left New Zealand to study a degree of performing arts in Sydney, Australia. Over time this new direction in her life eventually led to the formation of The Madeleines. “During lockdown, all of us came home to New Zealand as our international careers came to a grinding halt and in general the whole performing arts industry too,” she says. “This is when we came together and created The Madeleines. I actually knew Shannon beforehand and we came across Jess through holding auditions for our third member. She instantly caught our eye, she was perfect for us. Not only could she sing, but she could also rock a red lip.”
Initially only performing as a vintage 40s wartime-themed close harmony trio, the three women have since branched out to also be a vintage jazz and swing act that covers tunes from 1920 to 1960 to cater to an everexpanding following of all ages. “We do cover a few more modern songs that we add our own vintage twist to depending on the audience, so we definitely keep our content young and relevant, but of course with the classic nostalgia attached to it,” Hannah says.
Hannah says she is “very excited” and is looking forward to stepping back into The Monkey House Theatre, this time as an adult. “I have many friends and family that will be coming by who haven’t had the chance to see me perform, not even once as I have always generally been overseas,” she says. “My mum is even travelling from Auckland to watch us. She watches all of our shows and makes all of our outfits. I wish Jolene was there to see me perform too. As corny as it sounds, she was the first person that believed in me. She saw something in me and was the one who pushed me to do competitions.”
With the doors opening at 7:00pm on 11 June, The Madeleines will be on stage at 7:30pm to transport Whitianga to an era of timeless sophistication. “It’s also an occasion to dress up,” Hannah says.
“We would love to see your best fancy outfits, it is a great excuse to strut your stuff. Tickets are available at eventfinda.co.nz. With more than two thirds of the tickets already sold, the show is sure to be a sell-out.
Pictured are The Madeleines, Hannah Kee (on the left), Shannon Evison (in the centre) and Jess Rogers.