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Royalty returns

Three East Coast queens are coming home for a royal visit during Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival's summer programme.

Jackie Clarke, Sandy Mill and Bronwyn Turei have travelled the world on the back of their art, but with borders closed, instead of Rome, they're heading home.

Taking Tairāwhiti as inspiration, the trio is cherry-picking songs after decades singing on stage for a show a little different, but altogether wonderful, Clarke says.

“It's an opportunity to do something fresh. We will make music together. We'll sing some of our own songs, and some of the music we have always wanted to do but have never done before.

“We might even perform songs from our teenage years in Gisborne if we're feeling a bit nostalgic.

“We've had plenty of discussions about what songs are going to make the final list. It's going to be great.”

The performance was planned for October but has moved to February due to the festival being split in two, with most music acts taking place in summer.

Clarke is the all-around entertainer in the group. She has been a judge on New Zealand Idol, a voice actor in Power Rangers, cabaret performer and actor, among many others.

Turei is the actor, best known for playing Cordelia “Cody” Latimer in the New Zealand television series Go Girls and more recently on the stage in the play Rants in the Dark.

Mill is the songstress, quite likely the most recorded person in New Zealand the public has never heard of.

Mill has lived all over the world, predominantly in London, where she appeared on recordings by Gary Numan, Placebo, Boy George and Basement Jaxx.

The trio carved out very different paths in the performing arts but were drawn together by their shared love of song.

Although they are globe-trotting artists, they are still Gisborne girls.

“Those of us that are out in the big scary world, we don't get to come back and perform that often,” Mill says.

I reached out to Sandy and Bronwyn and said, ‘Hey, do you want to come home and do a show together?' ”

Clarke has just finished a stint at the Auckland Cabaret Festival and put on concerts with opera tenor Simon O'Neill and musical theatre baritone Tim Beveridge, and celebrated 16 years singing with The Lady Killers.

“It has been a productive time. I think it's that post-Covid thing everyone's going crazy about.

“I love working with new people and I value those long-term relationships.

“I'm still playing and I'm 55 years old. I don't ever want to stop playing. In the true sense of the word ‘playing', it's like a big kid in a sandpit.”

But no matter what she does, Clarke says she always finds herself behind the microphone.

“I'm a real stage girl. I like a live audience — it's the best. The audience brings out different energies.”

“No matter how many times I do it, what happens in the rehearsal room is completely different from what happens on stage.”

Homecoming Queens, Lawson Field Theatre, February 9, 2022. Tickets from iticket.co.nz

GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES: Sandy Mill, Bronwyn Turei and Jackie Clarke are returning for a royal tour at the Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival’s summer programme. Picture supplied