Creative Kōrero, Media, Theatre

Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Anna Julienne Bring Pointed Political Drama to Regional Theatres

Auckland Theatre Company’s Two Ladies heads across North Island in March 2021.

High-powered actors, Jennifer Ward-Lealand CNZM and Anna Jullienne, will play the women behind the most powerful men in the world in Two Ladies by Nancy Harris, making its way across the North Island in March.

Auckland Theatre Company’s season of Two Ladies, playing the Venue Consortium regional theatres – Hamilton’s Clarence St Theatre, Baycourt Community & Arts Centre in Tauranga, New Plymouth’s TSB Showplace and Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre in Hastings – catapults two dynamic women into a high-tension global crisis. While their husbands, the Presidents of the United States of America and France, cross diplomatic swords, the real fireworks are down the hall, where bloodied Sophia and world-weary Hélène are trapped together, distrustful of their husbands and each other.

Resemblances to the real-life first ladies are more than coincidental – 2020 New Zealander of the Year Jennifer Ward-Lealand CNZM (Vermilion, Dirty Laundry, Funny Girls) plays the much older wife of the pacific French President, while Anna Jullienne (Mean Mums, Falling Inn Love, 800 Words) is an Eastern-European-model-turned-America’s-First-Lady. But that is merely a starting point for this deliciously deceitful pressure-cooker drama.

Award-winning actor Rena Owen (The Pohutukawa Tree, Haruru Mai, Once Were Warriors) brings plenty of laughs to the stellar cast in a gritty, rare live theatre performance, along with Adam Gardiner (Agent Anna, Shortland Street, Mahana) and Ban Abdul (Eagle vs SharkAvatar, Put Your Hands Together, Please).

Auckland Theatre Company Artistic Director Colin McColl ONZM says, “Nancy Harris’s play demands a superb cast, and to have Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Anna Jullienne pitted against each other in the lead roles will mean hi-jinks, high fashion and fireworks. It’s also a special treat to re-unite audiences with Rena Owen who has managed to take time out from her busy US career to play the pivotal role of Sandy, the US press secretary.

“Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming revealed just how corralled and controlled public life can be for these women and why they’d want to kick against it. The twists and turns of the plot make for an entertaining and intriguing night of theatre,” McColl says.

Director Colin McColl’s vastly-experienced creative team includes renowned stylist and costume designer Lucy Jane Senior (Six Degrees of Separation, Boys Will Be Boys, Other Desert Cities) who brings impeccable style and glamour to every production, Set Designer Rachael Walker (Black Lover, Angels in America, That Bloody Woman) and Lighting Designer Sean Lynch (Black Lover, Winding Up, Hudson and Halls Live!).

In a year when global travel is off the cards for most Kiwis, the Venue Consortium is ensuring the best international theatre can be found right here in Aotearoa regional theatres. Following the New Zealand premiere in Auckland, the Auckland Theatre Company season of Two Ladies tours to Hamilton’s Clarence St Theatre on 5 and 6 March, Baycourt Community and Arts Centre in Tauranga on 12 and 13 March, New Plymouth’s TSB Showplace on 20 and 21 March, and Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre in Hastings on 28 March.

Tickets for the North Island tour are on sale now and details are below.


“Provocative… passionately on the side of women who are not in the “room where it happens”.” – The Guardian

“A crazy delight” – The Arts Desk

“Tremendous verve… swift, smart, compelling” – Telegraph



Directed by: Colin McColl

Costume Design: Lucy Jane Senior

Set Design: Rachael Walker

Lighting Design: Sean Lynch



Hélène: Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Sophia: Anna Jullienne

Sandy: Rena Owen

Georges: Adam Gardiner

Fatima: Ban Abdul



Clarence St Theatre, Hamilton: 5 and 6 March

Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, Tauranga: 12 and 13 March

TSB Showplace, New Plymouth: 20 and 21 March

Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre, Hastings: 28 March


Tickets available here

More info

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