Shrek says “Let Your Freak Flag Fly!”

REVIEW

Opening with three storytellers in a fairytale forest setting and the childhood abandonment of 7 year old Shrek by his parents seems like an odd way to start a musical comedy.  But then again, Shrek The Musical Jr. is definitely odd... and hilarious... and at times, touchingly sweet. 

Within the first few minutes we had gone from Shrek as a child to Shrek as an adult (a theme that is echoed later in the show) and then we really started moving along. This opening scene was backed by the brightly coloured and enthusiastic company to great effect.  More about them later...

From the minute Alec Muir opens his mouth you can relax. His voicing, his mannerisms – Shrek is in the house!  It’s his frustration with the world around him changing (he just wants to live alone in his swamp) that drives the story forwards. Alec comfortably breaks “the fourth wall” and addresses the audience then seamlessly re-engages back into the scene at hand.  There’s definitely a comfort level in watching him perform.  In the telling of the tale he appears in almost every single scene and really does go through a genuine emotional change.  Well, you know how the old adage goes... Big ogre, BIGGER heart!

And what would our hero be without an equally strong villain.  Nick Goodwin wins (pun intended) us over as Lord Farquaad with a physically brilliant performance.  He is arrogantly charming and blessed with a sneer that is an absolute pleasure to behold.  Never has the villain been so ‘low’ and it really is a shame that his part is so ‘short’. 

“There’s a princess.  In a tower.  Omigod, that’s just like meeee...”  This is how we are introduced to our heroine of the piece during a flashback sequence, that spans the imprisoned princess’s lifetime in the tallest tower by using three actresses, to show her growing up into the Princess Fiona we know and love.  And the final incarnation, Georgia Carnegie, has totally nailed the lovably bi-polar effervescence of the character.  So much so, that the audience loudly went “Ohhhhh” in sympathy during her scene (unseen but for a silhouette) in the barn.

There was a large number of supporting characters played by the company and they definitely added something to every scene.  Specifically I felt that the Gingerbread Man (Nikita Ballantyne) and Pinocchio (Alice Styles) stood out in every appearance.  They were comfortably carried along by the Wicked Witch, the Three Bears, the Three Little Pigs, the Pied Piper, Peter Pan, the Ugly Duckling, the Big Bad Wolf, a Bishop, some Guards, four very old Dragon Knights, and last but certainly not least - a feature appearance from the Dragon herself (Kim Kardashian eat your heart out). 

Shrek is funny.  So is Princess Fiona.  Their duet “I Got You Beat” could be the funniest romantic(?) song ever.  But Donkey (as played by Luke Robb) was the comic cornerstone of this production.  Absolutely full of boundless energy and enthusiasm, he was like an amplifier turned all the way up to 11... but only when called for.  Luke was also able to capture some reflective moments as well.  A wonderful foil to Alec’s Shrek, as any annoying-talking-donkey-travelling-companion should be.

Directed by Alice Sollis, with singing/vocal direction by Rob Martin, and choreography by Belli Faha, this production team have created something really, really special.  The entire cast was very clearly having a LOT of fun and it shows.  If you haven’t got your ticket yet – get it now!  Congratulations Roncalli College... I’m a believer!

-Aaron Williams

Maliciously, deliciously, delightfully, disgustingly fun!

REVIEWAddams Family - roncalli - small

Dah-na-na-nuh! *click click*
Dah-na-na-nuh! *click click*
Dah-na-na-nuh! Dah-na-na-nuh!
Dah-na-na-nuh! *click click*

That’s all you need to hear and you are instantly transported into the world of Roncalli College’s latest musical.

The musical of The Addams Family features an original story and it’s every father’s nightmare.  Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a sweet young man from a respectable family – a man her parents have not met.  She begs her father not to tell her mother.  Now Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done – keep a secret from his beloved wife Morticia.  Everything changes on the night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s respectable boyfriend and his parents.

Wednesday Addams may be a young woman being “pulled in a new direction” and experiencing true love for the first time yet she’s also still a girl who likes to go for long walks in the park at night with a crossbow.  Catherine Ward managed to bring both sides out at the same time, and most interestingly, sometimes even in the same beautiful (but slightly maniacal) smile.

PRODUCTION APPROPRIATELY PRATCHETT

Aaron Williams - Theatre - Set Design

REVIEW

If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, you’ll love the production by the Drama League of one of his most fanciful works Guards! Guards! In the highly capable hands of Dave Mortimer as director.

The literally fantastic storyline is of little consequence, and the zany nature of the play, part-pantomime, part-parody, makes for plenty of laughs; it is above all a witty work, almost in the fashion of the Goons, who likewise had a true cult following.

Bowing out with a chuckle

MUSICAL THEATRE & DANCE SUMMER SCHOOL 2011

Young thespians will be channelling Monty Python in the Timaru Musical Theatre and Dance Summer School's final act.

The school, now in its eighth year, will be held from Monday January 17 until Saturday January 22.

The theme for the last year was to be comedy, director Denise Henderson said.

"We have the opportunity to bring in some brilliant material for the kids to work with: Monty Python, Catherine Tate, Harry Enfield, Spamalot the musical and lots of slapstick dance routines."

The school would bring back Aaron Williams, on greenscreen filming, from last year.

The first school was held in 2004, and over the years hundreds of children have taken part.

"It is always great to see them take what they have learnt and progress into other ventures and opportunities in their lives, be that at a school level, taking up dancing or singing lessons, or becoming involved in the local drama league."

The course culminates with a concert on the Saturday, with donations given to charity.

"We have always chosen charities that benefit children," Ms Henderson said.

"This year we have chosen to support the Pike River Mine Disaster Relief Fund."

Top band caps vibrant festival

SOUTH CANTERBURY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2010

South Canterbury's first international festival is to make its debut next month, with acclaimed Kiwi rhythm and blues band Ardijah as the headline act.

Festival spokesman Aaron Williams said organisers were thrilled to have secured the band, famous for hits such as Moonlighting, Watching U and Silly Love Songs.

"Ardijah's sound is a fantastic fit with the theme of the South Canterbury International Festival, which is a vibrant celebration of Pacific and other cultures' music, dance, food, games, sports and arts.

"It's a real coup for South Canterbury to have secured an act of this quality, and is just another reason for everyone to get along to the festival."

Organising committee chairwoman Robyn Carey said the idea of an international festival came up last year when organisers thought Timaru needed a multicultural event, along the lines of Auckland's Pasifika festival.Mountainview Pavilion Trust, Pod Fusion, Aoraki Polytechnic and the Aoraki Multicultural Council had spent the last 18 months planning the event, Dr Carey said.

Highlights included cultural games and sports, a variety of exhibitors covering everything from reflexology to jewellery to Japanese bonsai, New Zealand's Victorian heritage, and an arts area.

Mr Williams said local musical talent would also feature at the festival, with performances from the Canterbury Japanese Choir, Boru the Irish band, and Te Aitarakihi kapa haka, along with local dance artists such as Bollywood Hungama. Rounding out the musical entertainment will be Jubilation, an Auckland gospel choir, with roots in traditional African-American gospel and influenced by contemporary songwriters such as Van Morrison.

Mr Williams said the festival would have something for the whole family.

"If music isn't your thing, come along to sample authentic ethnic food made in our cultural houses.."

The festival will be held on September 26 at Mountainview High School.