Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

01/10/2012 - 13/10/2012

Production Details

The Improvisors have created a KIDS season to celebrate the unsung heroes of fairy tales, with a look at the ‘true’ stories behind the other side of beloved fairy tales!

Fairy Godfathertells the tale of an ambitious Fairy Godfather who wants to do what the Fairy Godmothers do . . . with fabulously disastrous results!

As always we welcome and encourage the audience to come dressed up for the occasion – Knights, Princesses, Bears, Fairies, Batman are all welcome to add to the interactive experience.

So come on down to Circa Theatre to participate in the fun, dress up and join the story!

“… celebrates the magic of mass imagination”,Theatreview.co.nz
“Genuine Family Entertainment” – Capital Times 

Circa Two
01 October − 13 October
Monday to Friday 11am and 1pm
Saturday 11am
$10 Adults | $10 Children 

Running Time: 45 min 

Greg Ellis 
Kenny King
Jennifer O'Sullivan 
Gareth Ruck 

Musician: Tane Upjohn-Beatson

45 mins

Spontaneity and irritation

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Oct 2012

Many fairy tales have as one of the central characters a Fairy Godmother. However for their school holiday production Fairy Godfather, The Improvisors have gone for a story about a Fairy Godfather trying to take over the role of Fairy Godmother.  After a rather protracted opening from Kenny King the audience is finally invited to suggest a flower, and a part of a flower which then becomes the name of the Fairy Godfather, Dandelion Stamen in this particular performance, played by Greg Ellis.

It then transpires that Dandelion Stamen’s boss, Peach Blossom, the Fairy Godmother, Jen Sullivan, is the only one who can cast spells using her magic wand.  This causes the Fairy Godfather to become bored and to stomp around the stage muttering how bored he is. 

Eventually the audience is asked to suggest a tale without a Fairy Godmother and in this particular performance it was Jack and the Beanstalk.  The traditional story how Jack gets some magic beans that grow into a huge tree which he chops down to stop the Giant chasing him is told with a lot of embellishments and improvised antics many of which are suggested by the audience.

However this particular improvised show lacks much of the spontaneity of previous ones, mainly due to the rather strident and forceful performance of the Fairy Godfather Greg Ellis.  While the other two actors performed with a lightness and spontaneity, Elli’s constant yelling and often negative put down of the young audience members became irritating.


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Can do better – probably will

Review by John Smythe 01st Oct 2012

I venture to suggest The Improvisors’ Fairy Godfather can only get better following its second outing on this opening day. First point: it really is not necessary to shout at children to keep them interested, especially in Circa Two which is not the Opera House.

Nevertheless Kenny King’s opening message to the children that they don’t need to put their hands up like at school but are very welcome to just yell out whatever they want to say, proves more effective than at any other Improvisors show I’ve seen. Today’s audience is highly vocal.

There’s just one audience offer requested up front: a favourite flower and favourite part of a flower determines the name of the titular Fairy Godfather: Dandelion Stamen this time round. 

Greg Ellis takes the title role this afternoon and aggravatingly maintains the same loud and strident tone throughout – even when he is off stage – and, against all basic improv principles, he constantly interrupts and overrides his colleagues as if attempting to dominate and even control the unfolding scenario. When a small girl yells at him to “Stop it!!” I can only agree whole-heartedly.

That King and Jennifer O’Sullivan indulge Ellis and remain relaxed, attentive and responsive speaks to their professionalism but I definitely prefer a more equal energy balance in improv. This is not to say players should drop to the lowest common denominator; just that being loud, domineering and holding up the action for the next convoluted quip that pops into your brain and out of your mouth is not that same as making strong positive offers that propel and enrich the action.

The premise is that the Fairy Godfather is bored because his boss, the Fairy Godmother, Peach Blossom, gets everything done with her magic wand: a delightful little stick with the blue light at the tip. His boredom brings negative energy to the start of the show and it seems to take forever before we move on to his quest to find a fairytale figure who doesn’t have a Fairy Godfather (or Fairy Godmother) and change their life for the better.

This turns out to be the major offer drawn from the audience and I can’t help but wonder how many more times Jack and the Beanstalk will inform their challenge. Even though they are working at integrating the offered tale into this scenario, the set-up somehow robs the show of the magic inherent in most improv formats, where they magically create a coherent play from a whole range of random offers.

A key component is that Fairy Godfathers can’t do spells and the message seems to be that problems can be solved and barriers can be overcome in the real world.

The song about how magic can be tragic and not for everyone is obviously pre-rehearsed and in the reprised finale, there is only one improvised verse created from what we’ve just seen.

Tane Upjohn-Beatson on keyboards does a splendid job of responding to the action and embellishing the moods. Some inspired moments do emerge but overall the show suffers from the issues mentioned above.

Extraordinarily, Ellis actually tries to shut an intelligently commenting and contributing young girl down at one stage (not the one who’s told him off). This results in a superb moment where King gets her up on stage to say to his face what he’d tried to repress. On reflection it may well be that Ellis believes he is ‘in character’ when attempting to “shut the window on her fourth wall” but it comes across to me as blocking and a direct contradiction of the initial instruction to yell out their responses, as well as the first principle of improv.

While this particular show has not been The Improvisors’ finest moment, I’m sure the premise can produce a better result – and probably will. There may, however, be elements in this particular concept that will always hold Fairy Godfather back.  

It feels necessary to add that having said all this, I still stand by the positive response I had to Greg Ellis as Vance Fontaine in Command Performance – scheduled to return to Downstage soon. 


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