Ennio Marchetto

TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

17/08/2013 - 18/08/2013

Opera House, Wellington

01/08/2007 - 04/08/2007

Taranaki International Arts Festival 2013

Production Details

Directed and Designed by Ennio Marchetto and Sosthen Hennekam

From Italy

Back again to entertain you with his (paper-)cutting-edge comedy is Italy’s Ennio Marchetto.
Known as the “Living Cartoon“, this one man show mixes mime with satire and a brilliant soundtrack for a truly inventive twist of theatre.

Watch our new ad to get a glimpse of his crazy antics!
(opens Windows Media Player in new window)

Conjuring up celebrities from Eminem and Freddy Mercury to Dolly Parton, Prince Charles, Madonna, Elton John, Céline Dion to the Mona Lisa, Mother Teresa, Van Gogh and Marilyn Monroe and more, his costumes, wigs and props are made entirely out of cardboard and paper.

Ennio‘s award-winning show has toured the globe for over 17 years and seen by millions of people in theatres, festivals, and on television.

Ennio‘s recent tour of the United States once again received rapturous applause. You can click here to go to the Washington Post Express website and read a great interview where Ennio talks about life on the stage and his latest paper characters – like the new shaved-head Britney!

“You’ve never see anything like Ennio… His costumes are brilliant and hilarious. A laugh-out-loud funny show that is a burst of music, comedy and creativity” – Oakland Tribune

Check out Ennio Marchetto‘s official website: www.enniomarchetto.com 

Starring Ennio Marchetto

Stage Manager:  Matthias Boge

Theatre , Vaudeville , Solo ,

1 hr 30 mins, incl. interval & encore

Cabaret, drag, mime, and vaudeville

Review by Kate Blackhurst 04th Aug 2007

Lights, music, action! Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… absolutely fabulous, darling! Knowing very little about him, I didn’t know what to expect from Ennio Marchetto. What I, and a very appreciate audience got was an hour of fast-paced, high-energy performance that left me amused, impressed, and above all, entertained.

Imagine one of those cut-out dolls that children used to play with, ‘dressing’ it in different paper outfits. Now imagine that doll as an extremely talented dancer in a black body suit, leaping about the stage and lip-synching to a number of songs, parodying various artistes (and artists) with dashing irreverence. You’re getting close. A good description I have heard is ‘the one-man all-star living cartoon’. With larger than life flamboyance, he literally bursts into the three-dimensional, as when he mimics The Mona Lisa.

Ennio is obviously a great dancer, and an excellent mimic. Whether portraying Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Eminem or Boy George, the facial expressions and body movements were spot-on. All those hours posing in the shower and performing in front of the mirror have clearly paid off. He has also selected an eclectic spectrum of performers to imitate from Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe to Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears – the sight of a fit and muscled man in a one-piece prancing around to ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ is worth seeing in itself. Interestingly, most of the performers he imitated were female. Is this because they have to try harder to stand out from the crowd with instantly recognisable idiosyncrasies, or just because he likes acting, and dressing, as a woman?

The changes were rapid, and the transformations were witty and clever; sometimes with many layers of cardboard costumes one under another like a set of Russian dolls. There were those as well. Many countries and cultures came in for a dash of satirical caricature, from Hindu (Kali transmuted seamlessly into The Supremes) to Ancient Egyptians, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Queen uncannily becoming Freddie Mercury. Highlights included the solo performance of duets and chorus numbers, and a demonstration of how to lip synch to a CD that slows down or skips.

The mime element of the show confirmed that humour transcends the language barrier, although I felt that there were a couple of gags that didn’t work. This is a minor quibble, but the fat opera singer stuffing her face, and Jim Morrison cooking dinner to Light My Fire, were somehow too literal and lacked the sophistication of the rest of the routines.

At the end of the night, there were costumes strewn across the set (he either has a troop of dressers to lay them all out carefully every night, or he is incredibly well-organised) and thunderous applause. This was a great night at the theatre with facets of cabaret, drag, mime, and vaudeville; highly recommended for everyone who wants to forget themselves in an hour of good old fashioned fun and laughter.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.


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Celebrity send-up thrills with skill

Review by John Smythe 02nd Aug 2007

The very well disposed Wellington audience gave him – gave them all, dispersed as they were in bits about the stage – a standing ovation. In a show of two halves Ennio Marchetto had given us 45 picture-book cartoon character transformations, or 50-odd if you count all the Elton John incarnations, plus a couple more in his encore routine.

Content-wise the show is celebrity send-up with a camp drag feel about it, what with all the mouth-miming to popular songs and the extravagant gestures and movement (man but he must be fit!). The point of difference is the extraordinary ingenuity of the cardboard cut-out ‘costumes’ and masks, designed as they are – with Sosthen Hennekam – to surprise with hidden and detachable parts and props, then transform into something or someone entirely different.

It starts (as it did back in 2001 and probably long before that) with the old cliché of someone asleep, so all that follows is a dream … The first transformation, into Marilyn Monroe in that pleated white frock, also marks where it all began as young Ennio dreamed of breaking away from the family espresso machine repair business (see his website* for more, including an account of his 2001 NZ tour which was supposed to open on 11 September and was delayed).

Actually Monroe singing ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ is one of his less successful impersonations, being way too bouncy for her sultry-yet-innocent sex-appeal. Mona Lisa singing Bananarama’s ‘Venus’ is fun but the gag that follows, with Gene Kelley losing his legs while ‘Singing in the Rain’, just looks silly when he keeps on dancing. But much later, right towards the end, when the Venus de Milo recovers her arms and is able to give ‘Zorba’s Dance’ the full treatment, it works a treat.

Sometimes it’s the same character who transforms, as with Boy George losing his long locks and acquiring NYPD overalls to sweep the streets on community service as he sings, "everything is over …", or Britney Spears becoming bald all over (she’s famous for wearing no knickers in public apparently) and having babies, to "Give it to me one more time".

Other times the gag is in who transforms into what, as when The Singing Nun inspiring song of ‘Dominique’ bursts forth from Kylie Minogue’s rendition of ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, during which she has flashed her boobs beneath a flimsy white wrap ("forever and ever" – was that a fond tribute, a cruel joke about her mastectomy or an insightful comment about impermanence?).

A bored Bollywood dancer becomes The Supremes belting out ‘Stop In The Name of Love’ while their six arms evoke the fierce goddess Kali. And the show-stopper that precipitates the interval turns HRH QEII into Queen’s Freddie Mercury – ‘I Want To Break Free’ – as he divests himself of all but his upper teeth and moustache.

The fat joke – operatic soprano scoffing a table full of food – that opens the second half is a bit old hat as humour but is quickly followed by the most recent addition: a Chablis bottle that becomes Amy Winehouse who rejects ‘Rehab’ – "no, no, no," – while finding more booze in unlikely places.

The celebrity send-ups intensify. Barbara Streisand becomes Wonder Woman. The child Judy Garland singing ‘Over The Rainbow’ metamorphoses into ET. Madonna strips from her iconic conical bra to become totally airbrushed while holding a brown baby – and there’s a gag there about the contents of her exposed heart and stomach that I don’t get.

Doris Day sings ‘Que Sera Sera’ with her puppet fox furs for backing, then flips into Dolly Parton on a donkey. An Egyptian mummy unwraps to reveal Cher wondering if we believe in ‘Life After Love’ as her robotic demeanour is made literal as C-3PO.

Edith Piaf is the only one to get a solo spot, and she transcends being is little but a short joke as ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ rings forth. Indeed the quality of the songs and their recordings is clearly important to Marchetto, and the illusions he creates become so convincing that he gets applause for holding a long note.

Celine Dion singing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from Titanic, culminating in the lovers falling overboard and Ennio himself mock-vomiting, still goes down well. And a somewhat different approach comes with Vincent Van Gogh painting, cutting off his ear and turning into a pot of sunflowers to Gnarls Berkley’s ‘Crazy’.

An entire gospel choir, with eyes that magically open and close, transforms into a white-flared Elvis Presley gyrating to ‘Jailhouse Rock’ … And so to the finale, which has Liza Minnelli belting out ‘New York, New York’ while ripping a long red stole to shreds before becoming the Statue of Liberty herself. This is as close as the show gets to political comment.

Back in 2001, Marchetto paid us the compliment of including Jonah Lomu and a haka (he spells it "hakka" on his website*). It seems we don’t have big enough global celebrities now so this time round, in the encore, it’s a Sumo wrestler who transforms into a can-can dancer.

In a nice final touch, while basking in the rapturous applause, Marchetto sends up the whole celebrity worship thing by cleaning his various crevices and orifices with the shredded red paper and tossing the scraps to his fans.

Marchetto’s ‘living cartoon’ establishes a performance genre that could cut deeper in social and political commentary but he chooses not to go there. Nor does he achieve the wacky whimsy of Gary Larsen’s Far Side, for example. What we’re left with, then, is a send-up show that flicks through the glossy pages of celebrity lives to thrill us, finally, with the sheer skill of the visual, design and performance artistry.

*Go to the website, click on your language of choice then scroll down the News page to "New Zealand 9/19/01".


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Cartoon of life and colour

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 02nd Aug 2007

Rarely has applause erupted so spontaneously and continuously as it did last night for Ennio Marchetto’s one man show The Living Cartoon

But then he is such an extraordinary and unique entertainer that it’s not surprising.  Combining mime with music and dance, he lip syncs his way through 30 routines changing rapidly into more than 50 costumes during his 90 minute show. 

However, these are no ordinary costumes but brightly coloured paper or card board cutouts created cartoon style, each representing outrageously some iconic feature of the performer he is impersonating – hairstyles being a big feature as well as the clothes. 

His routines are not some sleazy camp drag act but very cleverly presented impersonations. Marchetto’s face portrays myriad expressions by way of the cut-outs, many looking incredibly like that of the real person. 

Dolly Parton on a donkey, Whitney Houston, Boy George – including his stint sweeping the streets of New York, Tina Turner, Edith Piaf and Madonna are a few of the better known characters that he wickedly parodies. 

But there are some lesser known icons that are just as funny along with some amazingly energetic routines such as the dancing Cossacks and Zorba the Greek.  With nothing on stage except himself and his costumes, and some very effective and evocative lighting, Marchetto is off and on in an instant. One minute in a nuns habit, the next as a Bollywood dancer, all the while the music plays continuously. 

Slick, polished and performed with panache, Machetto has perfected his unique style of performance from over 18 years on the road.  Yet it is as fresh and spontaneous as when first created, with new characters always being added, making it vastly different from the show that toured through New Zealand six years ago. 

So for something highly original, entertaining and very funny go see Ennio Marchetto but be warned, your hands could become sore from all the clapping, your throat raw from all the whistling and yelling and your mascara will definitely run from the tears of laughter.


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