Spiegeltent, Aotea Square, Auckland

09/03/2016 - 13/03/2016

Auckland Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

In a nutshell:  
Kamikaze-cabaret / Mermaids, Mermen and Tinder / Raucous and raunchy

★★★★★ This saucy romp through Andersen’s aquatic fable is cabaret perfection. Limelight Magazine

Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid is a decidedly un-Disney cabaret in which the sexy post-postmodern diva raucously subverts Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaid tale of teen self-sacrifice, salvation and seduction. 

A world of old sea shanties and hymns from the Titanic gives way to a glittering array of contemporary originals as Meow Meow sails to a land of altered hearts, minds and body parts. This operatic and outrageous sea ride features a rocking live band and a posse of cardboard cut-out princes led by real-life prince Chris Ryan.

Forget the fairy tale you thought you knew, this rollicking affair is a fairy tale gone rogue.


Spiegeltent, Aotea Square
Wed 9 – Sun 13 March 2016, 7:00pm
plus Sat 12 March 2016, 9:30pm
Duration 75mins no interval
$63 – $552

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festival’s Initiative in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, Sydney Festival, Perth International Arts Festival,Malthouse Theatre and Auckland Arts Festival.

Set and Costume Design by Anna Cordingley
Lighting and Design by Paul Jackson
Musical Direction by Jethro Woodward
Musical Composition by Jherek Bischoff, Iain Grandage, Thomas M Lauderdale, Kate Miller-Heidke, Amanda Palmer and Megan Washington
Comedy Direction by Cal McCrystal
Featuring Chris Ryan and The Siren Effect Orchestra 

Photograph: Andrew Gough

Theatre , Musical , Cabaret ,

1 hr 15 mins - no interval

Down where it's wetter

Review by Amanda Leo 12th Mar 2016

Entering the Spiegeltent for Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid is an experience in itself- on opening night there was an anticipatory queue even half an hour before the show started. We were ushered into an intimate in-the-round theatre with a thrust stage- my elbows were basically digging into my friend’s side for the whole show- yet this seemed to add to the hazy, sultry atmosphere that most of us hope for when attending a cabaret.

Little Mermaid is described as a “decidedly un-Disney cabaret, where sexy spectacle drips into a bittersweet take on what constitutes a ‘happy ending’”. Meow Meow turns to Hans Christian Andersen’s 1836 original, darker version of The Little Mermaid and plunges us into her subconscious. [More]


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A stupendous, multi-media odyssey

Review by Nik Smythe 10th Mar 2016

Comedy cabaret diva extraordinaire Meow Meow harks from Australia, tours festivals internationally and is particularly active in the UK, as indicated by her throaty received-pronunciation accent.  With her unruly black hair, saucy black-and-gold bodice and fishnets, plus a host of extravagant props and other wondrous devices, her original interpretation of the titular classic Danish fairy-tale tragedy is a striking spectacle of chimeric proportions. 

This is no exaggeration: she is consistently hilarious on a number of levels. She specialises in cynical innuendo; she has a tremendous vocal range to rival Nina Hagen (accompanied by a band more multi-stylistic than the Mars Volta); she is a total diva, in the sense of both self-indulgent petulance and genuine star quality. Of the many adjectives one might use to describe her, ‘ordinary’ will never be one of them.

The centre ring stage of the three-quarter-round layout is initially set up as one would expect: a central rock formation surrounded by scallop-shell footlights, with a fly-wire hanging promisingly above from the centre of the parachute ceiling.  In a flash of thunder and strobe lightning our heroine enters, crying inconsolably in the rain, to tell us that this is a show about happiness. 

The opening auto-harp strains of her inaugural wistful song about laughter, tears and “wonderful wonderful life” are soon joined by her aforementioned 5-piece backing group, the Siren Effect Orchestra, on traditional marching-band instruments, subsequently taking their places at the more modern equipment set up upstage, in their little white sailors hats and stripy shirts. 

Having composed herself well enough to declare that she feels as though she’s travelled for three hundred years in the search for true love, it becomes apparent that the real purpose of this production is to hopefully find herself some of that magical but frustratingly elusive true love that the old folktales are always banging on about.  To this end she selects a few potential contenders out of the audience, based on not entirely flattering criteria, to undergo her unique method of examination to determine their true eligibility. 

This is just the beginning of a stupendous, multi-media odyssey that simply has to be seen to be comprehended. A range of inflatable props and ingenious special effects, such as the mobile dancing sea-rock, complement Meow Meow’s audacious act without ever upstaging her – as if that were even possible.

A couple of unfortunate technical failures don’t detract from the entertainment for very long … far from it in fact.  There are numerous levels to her mind-bendingly meta-performance, between gentle storytelling, almost-classical pantomime, introspective philosophising and frank realism, often switching between each other so quickly it’ll make your head swim, no pun intended.

Not to give any more away than necessary, the emergence of her eventual masculine love-interest (Chris Ryan) has to be disclosed in order to commend his excellent semi-majestic contribution to the ensuing extravaganza. 

Meanwhile, the eclectic range of the band’s phenomenal live soundtrack is a worthy match for Meow Meow’s capricious (read: schizoid) performance, as together they belt out ballad after anthem after woeful lament, each as rich, musically layered and crescendous as the last.

For all its humour and irreverent shock-value, at the end of it all as we wander into the Festival Garden twilight, my friend and I both find ourselves seriously pondering the question of ‘true love’ in relation to our own lives.  And did our plucky little fish-lady find hers?  Only one way to find out… 


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