The ABBA-inspired jukebox musical Mamma Mia! needs no introduction, but provides a worthy and joyous platform to introduce Whitireia’s Musical Theatre students to Wellington audiences. This is the programme’s full-scale production for the year, and with the support of program staff and industry pros, these emerging performers knock it out of the freaking park and gift me a contender for the most fun I’ve had at a show this year!
It’s a sold out Wednesday night in Te Auaha’s Tapere Nui for one of Aotearoa’s most well-known comedians. Famous for his snapchat filter videos featuring quirky characters and tongue-in-cheek political impressions, there is a noticeable excitement in the crowd to see the dude off instagram, live in the flesh.
Hell School: The Musical is an original musical created by a collective of students from the theatre programme of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington and is directed by James Wenley.
The Big HOO-HAA! Pōneke is a competitive improv show (a-la Theatresports) which was originally created in Perth, Australia and has migrated onto our shores for its New Zealand premiere in this year’s New Zealand Fringe Festival. Despite some opening night wrinkles, it’s a rambunctious, rollicking good time starring some of the city’s finest improv talent.
It’s a rainy Wednesday night. There are only two shows on in Wellington this week, and I’m stoked to be heading to the Gryphon Theatre for one of them. The Spitfire Grill promises to be a nostalgic look at small town America in the 70s, based on the 1996 film of the same name. The production premiered in 2001 off-Broadway and has taken 21 years to make its New Zealand premiere. Tonight is that night and, being a Wellington Repertory opening night, there is free food and drink and a warm buzz that immediately leaves the wind and rain outside.
GAG REFLEX is a (more or less) one woman show, created by Rachel Atlas, and directed by Sabrina Martin. GAG REFLEX takes us through Atlas’s experiences as a performer, a sex worker, and a survivor, in a world that often feels like it is not built for women like her. This is Atlas’ first venture onto the stage as an actor, and I must say, what a strong entrance!
New Zealand Theatre Live’s MILK OF THE GODS is the show where the audience is given agency through water (and milk) balloons, and it is a welcome sequel to their frenzied 2021 Fringe season of MILK!
Ephemeral Theatre’s RAW! ASMR is a devised solo feminist clown show by Amy Atkins and, according to the programme, is the first of its kind in Aotearoa. Directed by Sara Hirsch and devised by Bethany Miller, Amy Booth, Liz Butler, and Pája Neuhöferov, the show is 45 minutes of whispered chaos, and as an avid ASMR fan, I feel ecstatic that this niche corner of YouTube content has been given some theatrical legs. While evidently a development season, RAW! ASMR is bright, fresh, and Atkins is a skilled entertainer.
Reviewed by Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
The Kallo Collective and A Mulled Whine’s show The King Of Taking is a promising work in development from beloved NZ clown, Thom Monckton. The show is a circus satire of a selfish king receiving gifts from his subjects/us/who cares! The show is already sharp as a tack, even as a demo, with Monckton flexing his international, award-winning clown muscles on home soil.
Wendybird is the latest theatrical outing for fast-emerging company Blue Flicker. This year they bring Prea Millar’s debut solo show to fringe – a playful reclaiming of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, from Wendy’s perspective. More than that though, it is an artful reflection on a young woman’s experience growing up in someone else’s story.
Shift Your Paradigm is part pyramid-scheme parody, part conspiracy investigation, full quirky comedy good times. Co-created by David Bowers-Mason and Mitchell Botting, this 65-minute offering - while not perfect - is a delightful addition to this year’s Fringe programme. WARNING: SEVERAL CHAIRS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PRODUCTION.
Glass Town is a new offering from Knot Theatre. They’re coming in hot off the back of Bruises (Winner – Grand Design Award, NZ Fringe 2021) and a nomination for most promising emerging company at last year’s Fringe, and I am so excited to see what they will serve up, 12 months on. They say the second album is the hardest, and I’m afraid it may well be true for this production.
Close to You is a new improvised theatrical offering from Wellington improv stalwarts Best on Tap. The show explores closeness, far-ness, and how distance impacts on people and relationships across all walks of life. Based on audience suggestions, these generous and intelligent improvisers shared a delightful show full of surprises to an adoring Thursday night crowd.
Ellen Morgan Butler
If I could describe What’s the Purpose of this Project? (created by Potentially Playing Productions’s Evangelina Telfar and Marcus Jackson) in one word, I would describe it as lovely. Or cerebral. Or dreamy. But this project requires much more than just one word.
Lift Off is a showcase of young talent presented by Te Auaha for the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2020. It promises “tomorrow’s taste-makers live and firing on all cylinders” and it absolutely delivers. The showcase is a triple-bill of emerging artists demonstrating talent across all disciplines of performance. There’s song, dance, music, monologue, drama, comedy and even multiple languages spoken on stage. It’s an artistic smorgasboard which guarantees something for everyone and that’s what Fringe is all about!
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.