Music to Die For

Te Auaha - Tapere Iti, 65 Dixon St, Wellington

09/08/2023 - 12/08/2023

Production Details

Best on Tap created the format.

Presented by Best on Tap

Music to Die For – One funeral, six songs, one life.
What song do you want played at your funeral? In this new format from Wellington based spontaneous theatre troupe Best on Tap, you pick the songs and the team of talented improvisers will piece together the owner of that funeral playlist. Their successes, their relationships, their annoying quirks. Join us in this celebration of life.

Best on Tap uses truth-based play to create compelling and satisfying narratives. This is spontaneous theatre that honours and entertains.

9-12 August 7pm
Tapere Iti, Te Auaha Dixon street.
General Admission: $20.00
Unwaged: $15

Tim Croft
Clare Kerrison
Mary Little
Barry Miskimmin
Nicola Pauling
Geoff Simmons
Kate Whitaker
Musical improvisor:
Matt Hutton

Improv , Theatre ,

1 hour

A memorable, amusing and sometimes touching life story conjured out of improv

Review by John Smythe 10th Aug 2023

Best on Tap created this format and it is an ideal vehicle for meeting their avowed objective: “Our performance style is truth-based, theatrical improv. While there are plenty of laughs, this approach digs deep and demands more from the performers, who explore authentic emotions and relationships to deliver a fully satisfying theatrical experience for our audiences.”

At the Te Auaha box office counter we are asked to write down our choice of music to be played at a funeral. In this iteration of Music To Die For, it’s Barry Miskimmin who introduces the show, picks six songs from the hat and hands them to ‘D’ who is operating lights and sound. We don’t know yet which songs have been picked and neither do the other improvisers. Meanwhile Matt Hutton is at the keyboard to provide mood music throughout.

Barry also takes the role of celebrant. His fan of playing cards for the other five players to pick from sees Nicola Pauling draw the Joker, which casts her as the dear departed. Each brief tribute Barry delivers to mark this celebration of the life of ‘Anna Lucy Edwards’ – aka Go-Anna and Banana-Anna – becomes the cue for a song which inspires the cast to improvise a scene or two that reveals why that was one of her choices.

Thus in-the-moment improv will see Clare Kerrison become Anna’s younger sister, Becky; Kate Whitaker become their mother and Geoff Simmons their father; Tim Croft become Anna’s boyfriend, Grant. Later I think I catch mum being called Joan and dad Graham, so I’ll go with those names. The following never-to-be-repeated scenarios exemplify the skill of the troupe.

‘I Will Survive’ takes us to the childhood trauma, for Becky, of Anna moving from the bunk room into her own bedroom, then to the shock of Grant breaking up with Anna. ‘Can I Kick It’ provokes Joan and Graham to get Anna to move out of home then on to her OE. Some years later, in London, her aptitude as a football striker is discovered and she’s selected to play for Arsenal.

Prompted by ‘Bad Reputation’, it emerges that Joan and Graham have broken up. While Joan has taken up line dancing and Graham is volunteering in Uganda, Becky has gone off the rails and is up on a misdemeanour charge – and the news that the parents have sold the family may or may not have something to do with Anna’s run of red card violations. The Grant turns up wanting to reconnect with Anna and she sets out how it will be over the next 12 months.

‘End of the Line’ finds Grant line-dancing with Joan while pregnant Anna videos it for Tik-Tok. Impending motherhood raises fears for Anna that she will suffer the same bloody and near-fatal birthing experience her mother had with her (detailed in an earlier scene). Meanwhile in Uganda, Graham receives a deliciously stroppy letter from Anna revealing her news and her fears – and that she needs him to come home.

The bloodless birth of a daughter, to be called Emmy, arises from ‘So Long Maryanne’ with Joan’s mother Maryanne providing the baby’s second name. As for Becky, she still has five years to go in prison …

It all winds up with ‘Same Old Song’ and I am impressed with the memorable, amusing and sometimes touching life story that has been conjured out of the six song titles. Elements introduced early on have been cleverly threaded through – not least the recurring motif of bananas.

What remains a mystery is how, when and why Anna died. Should that be part of this format?


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