Once Upon A...

Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin

19/03/2011 - 20/03/2011

Dunedin Fringe 2011

Production Details

Once upon a time Little Red Riding Hood… wait we have heard that one… what’s something else she could be wearing… “Big Blue Skipping Shoes”… thank you for helping. Big Blue Skipping Shoes was going to visit… oh it wasn’t grandma… who was it?

Fun for the whole family, four professional improvisers create new fairytales with a little help from your kids. 

Fortune Theatre Studio
March 19, 20
11:00am and 1:00pm
Prices: Full: $7
Tickets: Fortune Theatre box office, ph. 03 477-8323 
Fortune Theatre Box Office website  


Winning over children and adults alike

Review by Jennifer Aitken 19th Mar 2011

Once upon a time four professional improvisers, with the help or four friendly puppets, improvise four new fairytales. Once Upon A… is a hilarious show directed at children but wildly funny for all involved.

This morning’s audience is slight but this doesn’t phase our performers and after a quick game of ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’ to move us forward and fill up the front two rows of seats the game is on! With a fabulous set, some token props strewn around the space and an improvising keyboardist off to the side Once Upon A… is full of action, chaos and hilarity.

The improvisers are highly skilled; they work well together and with the audience. Once Upon A… is built around the premise that each improviser has a puppet ‘friend’. The performers take their turn at introducing us to their ‘friend’ and then it is the puppet that initiates each story with the help of the audience. This gives the show structure and allows one improviser to sit apart from the action in each story, the puppet’s interact with the audience and at times offer a ‘life-line’ to ‘the outside’. This is a very clever and well used convention.   

The stories are fun and futile, not great morals or happily-ever-afters. The pirate finds a friend, the treasure chest is filled with colourful clothes and not riches and rubies, the T-rex doesn’t eat the frog and Princess Rebecca is saved by Mathew the Knight – morals can be construed but it’s more fun if you don’t look for them.  

The keyboardist, taking obvious enjoyment in the actions taking place in front of his perch, adds that little something extra to the show. His talent is obvious as he supports and enhances the action taking place on stage. Similarly the lighting operator has excellent instincts and simple changes in the lighting states makes stories, like the under-water-submarine story, just that little bit more dynamic.   

Time flies and by the end of the show they have even won over the young boy at the back who does ‘nothing’, ‘won’t say anything’ and when asked at the start if he likes the show so far exclaims “NO!” These talented performers quickly win us all over with their charm, and witty adult-directed asides. They have the children and the adults, too, eating out of the palms of their hands.  
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