Despite Tse’s ability to hold the attention of an audience, it is clear that this is not really a solo show. The scenographic blend is the thing that lifts That’s All She Wrote from a concert to a musical art exhibition. It’s glamorous. Rachel Hilliar’s set comprises four pillars of taped-together sheet music, which mesmerise me before the show even begins. Then the backlights come up, courtesy of lighting designer Ruby Kemp, and the stage is transformed. The pillars turn fire, then smoke, then river – all from a simple shift in colour from the back lighting, and it is beautiful. The No Man Band (great name, by the way) is led by music director Katie Morton, and not once in the show does it feel like they are just accompanying Tse. The band brings musical breadth to the show. They take their own big moments without ever stepping over Tse’s vocals, with my personal favourite being the pairing of Ellie Stewart’s violin with Morton’s accordion during “The Crying Scene” from Murderballad. The show is incredibly slick, which is in large due to the mix of talented artists involved, but also likely in part due to the skillful interweaving of said artists’ offerings by director James Cain.
Tse’s curation of work reads like a love letter – to musical theatre, but also to badass women and non-binary folk. She takes us on a journey that is light and fun but also a little bittersweet, as it’s one we should have had the opportunity to go on a long time ago. That’s All She Wrote is showing at Te Auaha until this Saturday 10 July and is selling out fast. To book tickets or to find out more, visit the Red Scare website.