The New Zealand Musical will never be the same again [by James Wenley]
As Steve Wrigley observes, musicals aren’t considered very manly in New Zealand culture. It takes balls (suitably tightened to hit the high notes) then to trade in his tried and true stand-up comic routines for a camp, highly theatrical stage show called ‘Kevin: The Musical’*.
Kevin: The Musical, we learn, was New Zealand’s greatest musical; it came out in the 80s and unfortunately went straight to VHS.
There’s a morbid opening. A Herald Theatre usher makes the announcement that the entire cast and orchestra of Kevin the Musical, including its star Steve Wrigley, have been killed in a tragic bus crash outside the theatre.
We aren’t to go home disappointed however – the said usher and Kevin, the Herald Theatre’s janitor, (who, gosh, now that I think about, looks an awful lot like Steve Wrigley, may he rest in peace) have been watching rehearsals, and take it upon themselves to recreate the musical as it would have been staged.
Be afraid, be very very afraid! [by Sharu Delilkan]
I have to admit that when the usher led me to my seat, right in front of the stage, I immediately asked to swap for a seat further behind because I was not ready to be the butt of the jokes that night.
I could just see the comedian for the night Terry Alderton ripping the shit out of me if he spied me with my pen and pad – sitting in the dark, two tables back seemed like a wise decision.
And sure enough the people who ended up occupying the very table offered to me, were the centre of attention for most of the evening.
Phew! That was a narrow escape.
Now seated comfortably with a candle to illuminate the pages of my notepad I was ready to take in whatever was dished out. Or so I thought.
I immediately loved Alderton’s zany, intelligent and innovative show. The use of a schizophrenic Gollum-esque alter ego (spoken with his back to the audience in devlish, high pitched tones) was an extremely original comedic device, I thought, when I had seen him at the Comedy Gala televised on TV3 a couple of weekends ago.
Are you faux real? [by Sharu Delilkan]
When I arrived at the Herald Theatre I was a little disappointed with the small number of people in the foyer.
“I’m early I told myself”. But unfortunately that didn’t change as we filed into the venue to take our seats.
I actually counted 35 people in total, including me and my husband, which made for a very intimate audience.
All I could think was “Hope this isn’t too demoralising for Gareth Williams.”
But from the minute he appeared on stage, the consummate performer gave us his all.
Williams’ madness and craziness was totally on display tonight.
This one-man song, dance and physical theatre spectacular is the result of Williams joining forces with Christ Almighty writer Dan Musgrove.
The question you find yourself asking and answering in one breath is: “What if you were trapped inside your own head…with John Farnham?”
When Mike met Virginia [by Sharu Delilkan]
Everyone knows When Harry Met Sally so when the show opens using the movie as an example of a romantic comedy (or a romcom) it sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come.
Mike & Virginia is written by veteran screenwriters Kathryn Burnett & Nick Ward, who are making their debut into the world of theatre.
Memorable lines include ‘I’m as dry as a vulture’s arsehole’ and ‘being a best friend is about accepting her lumps and all’.
Mike and Virginia want to fall in love and they are supposed to at the end but in my mind they never quite get there - it’s difficult to appreciate what lovably laid-back Mike (Will Hall) sees in constantly uptight Virginia (Lisa Chappell), who rarely seems to soften or let her guard down.
The show has all the elements – great script, amazing backdrop scenery but the diluted chemistry between the lead characters left me needing more.
There’s something happening in Auckland right now, and it’s hilarious. [by James Wenley]
And I’m not talking about the Comedy Festival proper. We Aucklanders have known this is hilarious for a number of years now. Auckland’s stand-up comic fraternity (anyone who has ever appeared on 7 Days, ever) have been on a renaissance roll for a while.
No, I’m talking about comedy in the theatre. Something very hilarious, and very exciting, is happening on our stages.
Over the last few years, the creation of the funny play has been taken up by three main creative groupings in Auckland.
The Thomas Sainsbury juggernaut has been impossible to miss, the playwright churning out play after play (Talk, Dance Troupe Supreme, The Mall, Loser etc etc etc) and often directing his own work in small venues around town.
Nic Sampson and his cohorts have newly emerged with a series of broad blokey comedies (Tim and Andy, The Burn, Idiots I & II, Feel Felt Found, No Tree Hill)
And after graduating from Toi Whakaari, writer-performer pair Dan Musgrove and Natalie Medlock lit up the Auckland scene with A song for the Ugly Kids, The Giant Face, and Basement revolving cast Xmas shows Christ Almighty! and Toys.
All share similarities, so much so that a distinctive ‘comedy’ theatre style is happening right now in Auckland. It is silly, outrageous, naughty, absurd, and anything but PC. The storylines are often ridiculous. Although sometimes gagging on popular culture, the heart of the comedy is squarely in the characters and their relationships. The plays are populated by larger-than-life characters (with actors as a rule playing multiple characters within a night) who underneath are deeply flawed and have a ‘truth’ that exposes our own human foibles. This, is what makes them work, and is something I have long admired in Sainsbury’s work especially.
This week at the Basement, all three comedy-making groups converge.
Back on the radar [by Sharu Delilkan]
Most people know Te Radar as an award winning satirist, documentary maker, writer, failed gardener, and amateur historian.
And more recently he’s been in our living rooms starring in TVNZ’s Radar’s Patch, Off the Radar, and Homegrown.
But you’d be forgiven if you didn’t think of him as a stage director, especially since he’s been off the theatre radar for a good seven years. The revered Kiwi comedian’s last live theatre gig was directing Those Indian Guys in Indian Invaders at the 2004 International Comedy Festival.
Radar admits he knew he had to direct Mike & Virgina as soon as he saw the read through at Auckland Theatre Company’s Read Raw series.
Mike & Virginia is a unabashed romp of a play about love and who you think you shouldn’t fall in love with, that subverts every romcom convention in the book to create a bitingly funny and surprisingly tender Kiwi love story.
...and his John Farnham man-crush. [by James Wenley]
You could say Gareth Williams is a bit of a John Farnham fan. So much so, that he made the Aussie rock icon, famous for hits such as You’re the Voice and Pressure Down, a major character in his solo comedy show Faux Real. Or rather, a voice who enters the world of Gareth’s character’s dreams, and wants to make him the next big thing in pop rock music. Together with a pet desk lamp (yes, a pet desk lamp) our hero travels with Johnny Farnham to Ayers Rock, home of all pop rock.
Since graduating Toi Whakaari Drama School, and then later moving to Auckland, Gareth has enjoyed what many actors envy – a sustained and varied career. He’s had roles in The Lonesome Buckwhips, The Dentist’s Chair, Apollo 13, and last year I interviewed Gareth for Craccum Magazine as he prepared to take on the dual roles of the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald in Silo’s Assassins.
For Faux Real, together with director Dan Musgrove, he has created a role and show tailor made for himself. It debuted at the Basement Theatre last year, and now with STAMP at The Edge’s support is back, bigger and better, as part of the 2011 International Comedy Festival.