29/06/2010 - 24/07/2010
Joy Cowley Stories on Stage for July School Holidays
Two much-loved stories by award-winning New Zealand author Joy Cowley come to life on three Auckland stages during the July school holidays.
Tim Bray Productions presents Joy Cowley’s Snake and Lizard at Selwyn Theatre in Kohimarama and at Manukau’s TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, and a new production of Greedy Cat at The PumpHouse, Takapuna.
Greedy Cat is a humorous adaptation of Joy Cowley’s series of stories that follow the misadventures of a large, gluttonous ginger cat.
Greedy Cat will play at The PumpHouse, Takapuna from Monday 5 July to Saturday 17 July with a special gala opening on Saturday 3 July at 4pm. A season for schools and pre-schools will run from 29 June to 2 July.
Greedy Cat is directed by Amanda Rees and stars Courtney Chittenden as Greedy Cat with a supporting cast of Nicole Thomson, Donogh Rees and Phil Vaughan.
Children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite cat and come up onto the stage to show off their costumes. They are also welcome to bring along Greedy Cat artwork which will be displayed in the art exhibition.
at The Pumphouse, Killarney Park, Takapuna, Auckland
29 June – 17 July
at 10.30am and 1pm daily
with a special gala opening on Saturday 3 July at 4pm. No show on Sundays.
Review by Nik Smythe 04th Jul 2010
Cats get away with murder don’t they? Literally in fact – as well as being one of humanity’s favourite, most dearly loved household pets, they are one of nature’s most efficient killing machines. Greedy Cat thankfully stops short of demonstrating this (though he surely has his eye on that goldfish…); nonetheless he does get away with basically everything he does, most of which is naughty.
Adapted by Tim Bray and directed by Amanda Rees, Joy Cowley’s beloved series of young reader’s rhyming picture books has become an hour-long theatrical exposé on the life of a little family. There’s sweet, playful daughter Katie (Nicole Thompson), hard-working absent-minded Mum (Donogh Rees), shameless pun-spinning cheeky Dad (Phil Vaughan) and of course the star of the show, greedy cat Greedy Cat, in a tour-de-force cross-species performance by Courtney Chittenden.
The first striking thing about Greedy Cat is his delightful costume designed and constructed by Chantelle Gerard – smooth light brown bodysuit adorned with cosy-looking fluffy ginger stripes, a magnificent tail and superb facial makeup designed by Natasya Yusoff which blends su-purr-bly with the scalp and ears.
Thus adorned, Chittenden channels her remarkably feline energy most endearingly, so that with minimal suspension of disbelief we really are watching a naughty tomcat totally exploit his humans with no indication of compassion or remorse, and loving him for it! A number of kids left the theatre on all fours, and no doubt took some convincing by their parents that, for all his irascible charm, Greedy Cat is a cat and therefore not a role model for human children.
Thomson’s wide-eyed, well-meaning young Katie is likewise convincing as an endearing 8-year-old girl. Vaughan and Rees similarly do a decent job of convincing us that the cast is larger than only four players. Vaughan’s cosmopolitan array of shopkeepers are particularly hilarious, and I reckon Rees’ Aunt Anne, who looks after Greedy Cat when the family’s away on holiday, ought to get her own show.
As always, the overall package is ingeniously assembled with the assistance of Bray’s long-standing production crew: John Parker designed the simple and functionally versatile set, lit with aplomb by Michael Craven’s lights. The handful of original songs by Christine White are most fitting to the title character; from slinky showtune to skiffly jazz shuffle the catchy rhythms and melodies have our toes tapping to the tune of Greedy Cat’s insufferable (yet suffered) shenanigans.
Thanks again Tim Bray and Company for helping make school holidays something we can all look forward to.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Purr-fect fun and delight
Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 04th Jul 2010
Tim Bray and team bring to life author Joy Cowley and illustrator Robin Belton’s Greedy Cat with a production that celebrates feline curiosities and fun; creating a hugely enjoyable (and far more affordable) kids alternative to Lloyd-Webber’s global hit, Cats.
Bray’s cast and crew hit the right tone and pace from start to finish, with just over an hour of fun-filled delight and humour that kids in the audience both actively engaged with and enjoyed.
The hard working happy cast of four capture well-known characters and tales from a variety of the Greedy Cat books (of which there are eight I’m told) with much energy and commitment.
In the title role, Courtney Chittenden, with her mischievous catlike stare (and looking resplendent thanks to costume design and construction by Chantelle Gerrard and make up by Natasya Yusoff) yowls and howls her way through the hour with distinction.
Phil Vaughan is a wonderful upbeat Dad; a memorable Judge; and as the Shopkeeper of a thousand accents, hats and characters, he is hilarious.
Donogh Rees brings the house down as both mad Aunt Ann and absentminded Mum, playing both with abundant enthusiasm and humorous physicality.
Finally, Nicole Thomson captures bright-eyed childhood innocence and optimism, extremely well.
Director Amanda Rees (also script editor and sound) does a sterling job, keeping up a jolly pace throughout, creating lovely connection between all characters, and using John Parker’s clean and versatile set to its full advantage. Rees infuses many feline-idiosyncrasies into the narrative, brilliantly (why do these furry creatures demand to go outside when they are in, then inside as soon as they are out?).
The pre-recorded songs written by Christine White are toe tapping and upbeat (the purr-fect musical compliment) while lighting design by Michael Craven, is suitably perky and bright.
Kids – remember to dress up as your favourite cat if you go to this show, as if you do, you too will get your moment on stage!
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer