A special non-zombie, non-burlesque treat is when Ellis, showing a musical and comic virtuosity which would not be out of place in the old Cotton Club’s own stage shows, effectively plays both the trumpet and the trombone at once, calling on the cast beside him to hold one instrument as he reaches to grab the next and immediately continue the same musical phrase on a new instrument.
From the same review::
The second one is just a bit punchier, a bit more concise… brevity is, after all, a virtue.
With my lovely assistants, Jepha Krieg aka The Purple Rose aka Georgie; and Hans Landon-Lane aka Clever Hansel aka The Right Reverend Dr Aloysius Splitfoot. Photo taken last night by Deano Shirriffs.
The programme for the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival has been released. The whole festival runs from 17 February to 1 March 2012, and it’s held within the grounds of the best thing Hamilton has to offer. There are so many beautiful areas, especially the themed gardens (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, American modernist, etc), and many of the shows take advantage of those onnections.
For instance, in 2010 I performed inside the Victorian Garden Conservatory as the pianist in Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen – a slight anachronism in name (Jane Austen being from the Regency period some decades earlier), but very similar in culture and setting.
In 2012, I’ll be playing keys in two further shows in that same venue:
The First Asian A* B*. A two-hander comedy by Renee Liang about growing up in New Zealand, which I first performed at BATS Theatre in Wellington during the Rugby World Cup. Does Willy Long become the first ever Asian All Black? Well, you’ll just have to see the show to find out.
Four performances (Wed 22 Feb x2; Thu 23 Feb, Sat 25 Feb), $20/$15/$10 – book here. I’ll be wearing my 2009 North Harbour rugby jersey.
Holmes Alone. Greg Ellis from The Improvisors creates a Sherlock Holmes story in the character of Dr Watson. He goes to the audience for suggestions and it’s freakin’ amazing how he ties all the strands together in the end. I provided his musical accompaniment in a season at Circa Theatre during the 2010 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.
Two performances (Fri 24 & Sat 25 Feb), $20/$15 – book here. I’ll be wearing something appropriately late Victorian.
You should come see these shows. Waikato? Why not!
Some lyrics changed in the rehearsal process (and we certainly slowed it down from my speed-demon intentions), but most remained the same. Forgive my falsetto for soprano parts.
“Sorry, I meant to see your show” was performed last night at the Wellington Opera House by MC Emma Kinane and the Shoreline Cab Savs (Carmel McGlone, Bryony Skillington, Jess Robinson, Martyn Wood, Nick Dunbar & Gareth Farr/Lilith La Croix), with me (Robbie Ellis) on piano.
Wellington, you capital of culture!
We love you and we love your theatre scene.
There’s BATS for all the crazies, and Circa for old ladies,
And Downstage, where the finances are lean.
Pōneke, we welcome you this evening (haere mai!)
To a ceremony honouring success. (tino pai!)
With 108 shows eligible, from the tame to the unpalatable,
We’re giving props to just the very best.
It’s the critic’s job to say they’ve seen every blessed play
But I can’t come to everything, you know (bro you know!)
You simply can’t be thorough in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara
So sorry, but I meant to see your show.
I thought that your season was four weeks long,
But it was only three weeks, I got that one wrong.
I missed your presentation cause of my procrastination,
Sorry, I didn’t see your show!
I wanted to see it, don’t think I’m a jerk.
It started at 8:30 but I was at work.
No time for relaxin’, had to meet with Peter Jackson!
Sorry, (sorry!), I meant to see your show!
I’d never lie to you, I truly wish I could have seen it,
But The Hobbit made me sign a Don’t-See-Other-Shows agreement.
I booked my place for Tuesday night, I told you in a tweet,
But I got distracted up the Coast when I met Happy Feet!
The Cap Times, they loved it, Dominion Post too,
But I shouldn’t have logged on to read Theatreview.
My need to see it got away once John Smythe gave the plot away
So sorry (sorry!),
I really truly honestly no-shit sorry-my-cat-was-sick meant to see your show!
Ladies and gentlemen, your MC for the evening, the lovely Emma Kinane!
You scheduled your new play for during the Cup
But I was over rugby and I live in the Hutt. C’Mon Black! and Nepia, nothing makes me sleepier,
So sorry, I didn’t see your show.
I heard that The Engine Room was awesome for sure,
But I was sick and tired of the ’81 Tour.
I’d beaten you to get a wage when we were on the set of Rage So sorry (sorry!), I didn’t see your show.
You invited me on Facebook and I hit “Maybe Attending”
But Maybe’s really ‘No’ and that’s the message I was sending.
I’ve blocked your status updates so you might call me a wanker
But I’ve got so sick of theatre spam I’ve also blocked Brianne Kerr! (Sorry Bri…)
So… welcome to theatre’s Christmas work do
Just sit back, relax, as we congratulate you!
We’ll now get off the stage as this song’s lasted fucking (Os-)ages!
(Fuck me that was a long play…)
But… sorry, (sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry)
Sorry (sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry)
I really truly honestly no-shit don’t-you-believe-me dog-ate-my-homework had-to-wash-my-hair-that-night
Meant to see your show!
I, George Nēpia - winner of four awards including Production of the Year, and yet another Wellington theatre success story I didn't end up seeing. (Publicity image thiefed from circa.co.nz.)
Last night the 2011 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards took place, an annual Wellington institution to recognise awesome. I played continuity music.
I also wrote the opening song called “Sorry, I meant to see your show”, which was performed brilliantly by the Shoreline Cab Savs and MC Emma Kinane. (Edit: Lyrics & demo here.) It’s quite appropriate: out of the nine shows that won awards – the cream of this year’s Wellington theatre crop – I saw only three. At least Nēpia has a return season starting tomorrow(Edit: Thursday) so there’s no excuse there.
I’m fond of groan-worthy musical puns, so every award winner (all twenty) had one as their walk-on music. Here’s the complete list – up to you to spot the connections.
The Critics’ Wild Card
Johann Nortje for AV design in Wake Less, Hear to See, When the Rain Stops Falling etc
Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star
Downstage Theatre Award for the Most Promising Male Newcomer of the Year
Simon K Leary – Mates & Lovers
(acid-y jazz version): Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Circa Award donated by TACT for the Most Promising Female Newcomer of the Year
Lauren Gibson – August: Osage County
Afroman: Because I Got High
Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School & Victoria University of Wellington Award for Most Promising Director of the Year
Jason Te Kare – I, George Nēpia
Rod Derrett: Rugby, Racing & Beer
Peter Harcourt Award for Outstanding New Playwright of the Year sponsored by BATS Theatre and Taki Rua Productions
Ralph McCubbin Howell – The Engine Room
Blam Blam Blam: There is No Depression in New Zealand
Grouse Lighting Award for Lighting Designer of the Year
Marcus McShane – When the Rain Stops Falling
Australian Crawl: Boys Light Up
Weta Workshop Award for Set Designer of the Year
Andrew Foster – The Lead Wait
The Foundations: Build Me Up Buttercup
The Brancott Estate Award for Costume Desginer of the Year
Gillie Coxill – The Spy Who Wouldn’t Die Again
Satellite Spies: Destiny in Motion
Park Road Post Production Sound Designer of the Year
Chris Ward – The Lead Wait
Kool and the Gang: Jungle Boogie
Constance Scott Kirkcaldie Award for Outstanding Composer of Music
Richard Nunns – Hear to See
Dudley Benson feat. Richard Nunns: Ruru
The Absolutely Positively Wellington Award for Most Original Production of the Year Hear to See – Capital E National Theatre for Children
Mi-Sex: Computer Games
The Playmarket / Capital E National Theatre for Children Outstanding New New Zealand Play of the Year Slouching Toward Bethlehem – Dean Parker
The Knobz: Culture
The Whitireia Performing Arts Chapman Tripp Award for Supporting Actor of the Year
Christopher Brougham – When the Rain Stops Falling
The Orbit Corporate Travel Award for Supporting Actress of the Year
Erin Banks – The Engine Room
The Newmatics: Riot Squad
EAT Wellington Accolade for Outstanding Performance
Michelle Amas – August: Osage County
Madness: Our House
eCaster Accolade for Outstanding Performance
Phil Grieve – Slouching Toward Bethlehem
Chapman Tripp Award for Actress of the Year
Jennifer Ludlam – August: Osage County
Amy Winehouse: Rehab
The ProActors and Gail Cowan Management Award for Actor of the Year
Jarod Rawiri – I, George Nēpia
Howard Morrison Quartet: My Old Man’s an All Black
The Museum Hotel Award for Director of the Year
Jason Te Kare – I, George Nēpia
Queen: Radio Ga Ga
Chapman Tripp Award for Production of the Year I, George Nēpia – Tawata Productions
George Nēpia: Beneath the Māori Moon
I’m sitting in Dunedin Airport waiting for the 1710 to Auckland. Time for a quick blog update…
Early yesterday morning I flew from Wellington (current home) to Dunedin (next year’s home). This is my first time in Dunedin as an adult – growing up in Auckland, the only time our family made it this far south was on The Big South Island Trip one summer. (In the words of my mother: “You’re growing up in Auckland and you won’t be a real Kiwi unless you’ve seen the South Island!”)
Picking up a rental car at the airport, my first stop was Black/Sale House, HQ of the University of Otago Department of Music. I had a good chat with Dr Anthony Ritchie, the only Otago staff member I really knew prior to my appointment as 2012 Mozart Fellow. We talked about plans for the Fellowship – I’ll do a little bit of teaching, some tutoring, and some supervision of undergraduate work. All promising.
At a morning tea I met the Department staff – the academics and the admin. I also said hello to Chris Adams, the current Mozart Fellow.
Then the flat-hunt began. I’d set up 10 viewings for between midday at 6:30pm yesterday. Two were promising, and as it happens I got one of them – a nice little cosy 1-bedroom on the sunny slopes of North East Valley (it’s practically Opoho).
On a bit of a stroll around town, I popped into Twang Town on Moray Pl, a music shop specialising in string instruments. The independent owner-operator style reminded me of Alistair’s Music on Cuba St – I’ll happily take my guitar or bass there once I move. The proprietor, Hyram Ballard, is a good dude and recommended “the best coffee in Dunedin” at Mazagran across the road. It was pretty damn good coffee.
On the venues front, I popped my head into the Fortune Theatre; saw a student recital at Marama Hall on campus; had dinner and saw an amazing Celtic chamber ensemble at The Church (where this performance of my piece Ha! took place); and took a tour around Sammy’s with the owner, Sam Chin. It’s a grand old proscenium arch theatre which has variously been a brewery warehouse, a nightclub, and a big music gig venue. We’re in talks about bringing a show there for the Dunedin Fringe Festival… can’t say much more than that now but it looks exciting.
First boarding call for my flight so I’ll sign off now.
In each performance, three folk (Renee, Ben & Paul) are visiting from Auckland and two (Fern and myself) live in Wellington. We’re currently sharing BATS with Death By Cheerleader, another rugby-themed show from Auckland. Last night, cheerleader Amy Waller gave me the beginnings of a lapdance in my second-row seat. All in the service of theatre, boys, all in the service of theatre.
My role in this season is really that of caretaker musician. Andrew Corrêa provided live music for the inaugural season at the Basement in Auckland, and two days after the Wellington season ends, the guys have a few performances at Auckland schools with Andrew once again. While I can’t diverge too radically from the cues as Andrew did them, I have been able to add some of my own touches: Samoa-ifying the ukulele playing; going slightly further over-the-top in the training montage; and hamming up God Defend Synth Zealand at the beginning. It’s fun.
You should come to BATS Theatre to see us. Six shows remaining, we run until Saturday 1 October. Starts 6pm. Don’t be a dumbass.
This interview was done by my good friend and colleague James Wenley. He’s such a good friend that I let him smash the electric guitar my parents gave me for my 12th birthday – all in the name of art. (I should really post the video of that some time.) He runs a website called Theatre Scenes, looking at the theatre scene (singular) in Auckland. Or maybe there are parallel scenes in parallel theatre universes in that city.
(“Oh, tricky parallel universes!” is an anagram for “City o’ Sails. Hark, P! Revere null.” That took me 15 minutes.)
The interview is about a play which I have read the script of but not seen any rehearsals for. This weekend I go to Auckland to observe the final two performances of the inaugural season, where the much talented Andrew Corrêa is playing the incidental music. Then on Thursday next week, the Wellington season opens at BATS Theatre and I play the incidental music.
I’m not really concerning myself with thinking about the play too much at this stage. Yeah, I’ve read the script, so I have a broad overview of where the story goes. Yes, I know it’s a two-hander and that the actors play multiple characters. Yes, I’m publicising it down here to a certain extent. But until I see what the actors are doing – and more importantly, until I see how Andrew has established the tone with his music – I’m not thinking about it.
My job for the Wellington season is to maintain the production’s continuity. It’s been through Read Raw in Auckland; it’s been rewritten, rehearsed, rewritten, rehearsed; and it’s opening at the Basement in just over 18 hours. I’ve been there for none of that process, but I hope to get up to speed pretty quickly!
Edit: Eva Radich interviews Renee Liang on Upbeat on Radio New Zealand Concert; audio below.
Composer, improviser, broadcaster and other. Most of what I do is musical or otherwise performing arts-related. I am from Auckland and reside there too, having also lived in Wellington and Dunedin. (read on if you want...)
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