Teacher joins former students’ cast

Juliet Reynolds-Midgley

When Juliet Reynolds-Midgley first heard her former students were creating their own theatre company, she jumped on board to help out right away.

Having taught theatre entrepreneurs Sophie Petersen and Keeneth Love at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art, she thought it would be great to take part in their new company’s first production.

Reynolds-Midgley, 44, will star in So Keen Productions’ debut show Songs for a New World. She continues to teach at the NASDA.

She described Petersen and Love’s new company as bringing a youthful energy to the arts scene.

“They are making a splash,” she said.

The spectrum of music which the show challenges its performers to sing – from gospel-style to jazz – and the fact Songs for a New World is rarely-staged in the city, is what drew her in to the part.

“I have loved the songs for a very long time . . . each song is so beautifully crafted. It really is a snapshot of someone’s life,” Reynolds-Midgley said.

The abstract musical is a collection of songs themed around “the moment of decision”.

“It is the human condition – how we deal with relationships, adversity, and how we just laugh at things and bring humour to it,” she said.

In her role as Woman 2, Reynolds-Midgley will sing four solos designed to be sung by four different women of the same age but from different time periods in history.

“It could be the same woman in a variety of different situations,” she said.

Born in Surrey, England, Reynolds-Midgley moved to New Zealand to study jazz at Music Arts – based at the former Christchur16ch Polytechnic Institute of Technology – in 1999 after her parents decided to retire in the area.

It was there she met her husband Gwyn Reynolds, who is now head of the Music Arts school at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Growing up, she had no escape from the musical realm. Her father Vernon Midgley was a broadcaster and singer at the BBC, performing in many full-length operas on its Radio 3 station. Reynolds-Midgley’s aunty, Maryetta Midgley, broadcasted regularly on BBC’s Radio 2 and appeared frequently in The Good Old Days on BBC television.

Reynolds-Midgley’s mother and grandfather were also opera singers, while her grandmother was a pianist.

She was cast into the limelight at a young age first performing in the CBS recording of South Pacific with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Mandy Patinkin and Sarah Vaughan.

She appeared as a soloist in her early 20s with the BBC Concert Orchestra for Radio 2 in a celebration of her father broadcasting for 25 years.

“Just being put in front of people in a high-stake situation at that age, you soon learn some really good skills,” she said.