Hawai’i / Aotearoa Indie R&B artist Deva Mahal and her sister Folk R&B artist Zoe Moon; Aotearoa choreographer and dancer Taiaroa Royal; Wellington-based actor, singer and performing artist Jaxson Cook; and Melbourne-based Aotearoa DJ, AROHA (Aroha Harawira) will take the stage as this year’s WOW feature performers.
Daughters of American blues musician Taj Mahal, Deva Mahal and Zoe Moon have forged blazing paths in music across the globe. Taiaroa has choreographed for and danced with Atamira, Black Grace, Royal New Zealand Ballet and Douglas Wright Dance Company, and performed all over the world. Jaxson Cook, now an accomplished solo artist, launched his performance career long before he’d left school. DJ Aroha is an award-winning dance/electronic music DJ who regularly headlines major music festivals.
While Show Director Malia Johnston doesn’t want to give anything away regarding the 2023 Show concept, Executive Creative Director Brian Burke’s (America’s Got Talent, Cirque Du Soleil, American Idol, Le Reve) creative vision for the 2023 show sees feature performers take centre stage throughout the six WOW 2023 sections – Aotearoa, Avant-garde, Open, Mars & Beyond, Gold and Bizarre Bra.
“The garments – the very spirit of WOW – are as mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, and intricate as ever. The feature artists elevate the spectacle.
“Zoe and Deva are uniquely talented as independent artists, but it’s extra special that they will appear in this show together. Jaxson is an absolute force, while Taiaroa will bring his incredible stage craftsmanship in movement and voice,” says Johnston.
Their wide-ranging musical and creative talents have guided the music and soundscape for the 2023 WOW Show, which has once again been composed by Music Director Eden Mulholland (Ngāti Uepohatu, Aotearoa). He describes composing this year's WOW show score as “a wonderfully complex creative puzzle” that has taken a year to complete.
“Each artist has contributed their unique style and expertise; Deva's powerful and graceful brilliance, Zoe's vibrant fusion of soul and fire, Jaxson's compelling presence and remarkable X factor, and Taiaroa's performative mana. We’ve also brought in Anatonio Te Maioha, who has brought his deep knowledge of te reo Māori and poetic expression to the Aotearoa section's vocal layers, and Helen Mountfort, whose virtuosity on cello is adding life and depth to the recordings,” Mulholland says.
As well as featuring in the show, DJ Aroha will lead WOW’s famous pre-show entertainment, Johnston says.
“DJ Aroha is the consummate professional party-starter. She will set the scene for the mind-blowing journey through our futuristic world with pinnacle performances and world-leading design."
WOW’s creative team comprises Executive Creative Director, Brian Burke; Show Director, Malia Johnston; Composer/Music Director, Eden Mulholland; Production Designer, Robin Rawstorne; Audio-Visual Content Designers, Jean-Luc Gason & Patrick Neys of Drop the Spoon; Costume Designer, Gabrielle Stevenson; Lighting Designer, Trudy Dalgleish; Sound Designer, Bart Barkman; Aerial Choreographer and Apparatus Designer, Jenny Richie; Choreographers Andrew Cesan and Kayla Paige; Music Producer Paul McLaney, and Character Hair & Make-up Artist Hil Cook.