Puss ’n Boots

Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff St, Mt Victoria, Wellington

05/07/2008 - 19/07/2008

Production Details

AT OUR NEW VENUE: Tararua Tramping Club (4 Moncrieff St., Mt. Victoria)

Join Jack and his furry friend as they set out on their big adventure. Things are not going so well for Jack, he has no home, no family and no money until … Who can this be? The classiest of cats, the puurrfect pussy! Yes! It’s Puss ‘n Boots to the rescue with a bit of feline magic and a plan to make Jack’s fortune!

Join a cast of zany characters in a whirlwind of comic excitement, as Puss ‘n Boots creates a plan that will transform young Jack into a fine gentleman. Meet a daffy Princess, a Boot maker with the strangest of shoes and a transforming Ogre who only wants to eat toast!

Puss ‘n Boots will spin a spell which will have your toes tapping and your sides splitting!

Sarah Somerville has adapted many favourite children’s stories for the theatre and KidzStuff has produced several of them, including Rapunzel and last year’s hugely popular The Three Little Pigs. Recent KidzStuff shows also include The Producers of The Sleeping Beauty and Which Witch is Which?

We are delighted to have Patrick Davies back after his directorial debut for KidzStuff with Which Witch is Which? in April and also Felix Preval, who was a huge hit as the wolf in The Three Little Pigs last year and also as Fizzle, the beautiful witch, in this year’s Which Witch is Which?

Performance Times:
Monday – Friday 11 am and 1 pm
Saturdays at 11 am

Tickets $10
Groups of 10+ $8.00 each
Children under 2 Free
With special prices for holiday programmes

Special Opening Preview 5 July $5.00 per ticket.

Bookings:  phone 385 0292 

Miller /Puss 'n Boots:  Felix Preval 
Jack:  Aidan Grealish
Simon /Bootmaker /King /Ogre:  Gene Alexander
George /Gatekeeper /Princess:  Bryony Skillington

Director:  Patrick Davies
Set:  Cast and Crew
Operator/Show Stage Manager:  Isaac Heron
Production Manager:  Corinne Simpson
Publicity:  Karin Melchior
Graphic Design:  Charlotte Oliver
Music:  Cast
Front of House:  Lucas Armstrong 

50 min, no interval

Bubbling fun with dubious moral

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Jul 2008

Puss ‘n Boots is rough-and-ready unsophisticated pantomime. Youngsters won’t be disappointed.

The actors in Puss ‘n Boots will have to be on their toes if their audiences are as quick as the audience at the first performance. "That’s a rubber chicken!" shouted one boy when we were informed it was a plucked pheasant, and when we were warned that Igor the Ogre was scary someone announced calmly that he didn’t think he was scary at all.

The Americanization of a waiata in Hinepau jars*, but references to Elvis and blue suede shoes, an English sounding gatekeeper of the Ogre’s castle, and a parody of the song (sung flat) about shoes being for walking, as well as vague echoes of Shrek, are all part and parcel of the farrago that is pantomime.

Felix Prevel (Puss), Aidan Grealish (Jack), Gene Alexander (Ogre/King), and Bryony Skillington (Gatekeeper/Princess) keep the fun bubbling away, which allows us to ignore the dubious morality of the plot particularly at the end when they teach the audience how to bow and curtsy to welcome the Marquis of Karabas whose presence brings about a happy ending.
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*[see forum on this]


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Well worth braving the elements

Review by John Smythe 05th Jul 2008

A packed hall of eager children lapped up the opening performance of KizStuff’s Puss ‘n Boots.* Some were so eager to answer questions and offer suggestions that a total departure from the script into a ‘theatresports’-style improv almost seemed in order. As it was the actors did a good job of accommodating the chaos while staying on track.

It’s a story without much moral, except to say that when the runt of the litter (the Miller’s third son) gets what seems to be the booby prize (the Cat, instead of the Mill or the Cart and Donkey), things can still work out, given a bit of devious feline subterfuge. Actually in the original the boy resigns himself to eating the cat, making a muff of its skin then dying of hunger, which makes it a tale of how the cat uses its wits to survive while kitting himself up with flash boots and a feathered hat into the bargain.

In Sarah Somerville’s adept adaptation, directed by Patrick Davies, Felix Preval’s delightfully suave Puss is certainly smarter than any of the other characters, cleverly manipulating the foibles and vanities of his ‘master’ Jack (Aidan Grealish) and all the others, to keep himself out of trouble – although more could be made, in the script, of his having to do it all to stay alive.

Preval also plays the decrepit old Miller and – following a metatheatrical intro and audience warm-up – the light tone of the show is quickly established when the Miller’s death provokes no sorrow whatever from his three sons. "He was very old," says the second son, George (Bryony Skillington), "and it was a really small part."

While George is happy to take off to see the world, Simon (Gene Alexander) turns out to be a selfish bastard who evicts Jack in order to sell up the Mill and move to the City. So with Jack going along with Puss’s scheme to masquerade as a Marquis, con an Ogre (Alexander) out of his castle and marry the Princess (Skillington), there could be something of a gender-reversed Cinderella thing going on. Indeed the scene with the Bootmaker (Alexander) allows for multiple references to other folk tale elements, including a glass slipper.

Blue suede shoes get a mention too, provoking Grealish to gyrate his Elvis pelvis before delighting the kids with Jack’s involuntary balletic response to donning invisible satin pumps. But it’s the knee-high Boots for Puss that win the day – cue ‘These Boots Are Made for Adventure’ (and cue my regular rant about the actors singing it in American accents: why? Kids really do have to be shown that they too can own songs, and the feelings and experiences they contain. Songs are not the sole preserve of other – dominant – cultures!). Also the very low key they sing it in robs the song of the oomph it needs to be the show’s signature tune.

Preval and Grealish establish a good relationship between each other, and with the audience – as do all the cast. Alexander makes smooth transitions between his four well-defined characters. Skillington, revelling in her trio, is especially amusing as the blockheaded Gatekeeper, attempting to exert what little power she has and overcome her boredom by playing games with passwords.  

The setting, created by the cast and crew, is simple and effective in typical KidzStuff style, ingeniously using a hill-and-castle backdrop and two inverted ‘L’ shaped boxes to evoke the Mill, forest, castle gates, throne and the Ogre’s castle door. Again, they make a virtue of their low budget and having to use a community hall by exemplifying production values that children can easily employ in their own play making. Even so, a couple more lights to illuminate the regal processions through the audience would not go amiss.

There is the usual smattering of topical quips to keep the adults amused, the audience participation elements are happily embraced by all and the result is fifty minutes of fun that’s well worth braving the elements for.
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*I am bemused by the "’n" in Puss ‘n Boots. It seems to suggest "and" rather than "in". It was Puss In Boots when I was a boy, being the preferred English translation of various European titles that translate more literally as The Booted Cat or The Cat With Boots.


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