NY show producer in town

Ken Denison
Ken Denison
The man responsible for the world stage shows Bombay Dreams, Elephant Man and the Lion King is in town for "quality control" on his company's latest show, Whisper the Wind.

Aruba Productions producer Ken Denison (50) has travelled from New York to cast his critical eye over rehearsals this week for the world premiere, just to make sure it meets his high standards, and to assist with the story line.

The show, produced in association with Hal Thau Productions, is based on the life and music of John Denver, and features 25 of Denver's songs and family footage of the singer edited at Taylormade Productions in Dunedin.

Mr Denison said Hal Thau was a close friend of Denver - a confidant with whom Denver shared many of his personal thoughts and feelings.

Much of these "Denver-defining" elements had been tailored into the show.

"You hear the story of John Denver, as told by John Denver. You get to hear some inside stories told by John himself.

"He felt passionate about the world and the environment. People at the time thought he was a radical. He was pro-peace and pro-environment but now, these are issues the world knows intimately."

Mr Denison said he had been in theatre since he was a boy.

He started out running stage lights in theatres around San Francisco, eventually becoming an associate producer with Disney where he launched the Lion King stage show in New York in 1997.

Since then, he has been jet-setting about the globe, managing the logistics of putting the show, and others, on in dozens of countries.

During his travels, he has met many Broadway stars and celebrities.

But Mr Denison said his first - and only - meeting with Denver ranked as the most fantastic experience.

"John was a very special individual. He lived what he preached."

Based on his observations during the past two days, Mr Denison said Whisper the Wind had exceeded his expectations and he was particularly impressed with the lead of the show, Bevan Gardiner (21).

He said Mr Gardiner's voice was uncannily similar to Denver's. It was hoped the show would spread worldwide and keep Denver's music alive.

Mr Denison said he would watch the world premiere at the Regent tonight before returning to New York to work on his next big show, Robin and the Seven Hoods which is loosely based on an old film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis jun.


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