SHORT + SWEET GALA FINAL - SONG & CABARET

TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

27/09/2015 - 27/09/2015

Short + Sweet 2015

Production Details



PUSS

Director | Writer
Naomi Cohen

Cast
Naomi Cohen, Andy Manning

About the work
It’s a tough life being a pampered puss from Remuera. Especially when your family goes bankrupt and you have to move to Mount Albert. Once the queen of her neighborhood, Miss Fuzzykins the 3rd struggles with her new surroundings and the reality of trying to make it on YouTube.

 

Sirens

Director
Cian Elyse White

Company
Black Pearl Productions

Cast
Romy Hooper, Valda-Anne Shadbolt, Cian Elyse White, Mia Curreen-Poko

About the work
In the ever-changing tapestry of frequencies we are provided, how do we know which one to tune into? When the noise of the world around us becomes to loud, it is often the gentle hum of our kuia and their voices that we hear, reminding us that we already have everything we need, to sing our own song.

About the ITC
The Black Pearl team are three artists, musicians, actors, lovers, workers, writer’s, proprieters, dancers, poets, wāhine, singers, sisters and storytellers. SIRENS is an exploration of how the voices of our kuia can still be aired today featured Romy Hooper, Valda –Anaa Shadbolt and Cian Elyse White.

 

Ship Life

Writer | Director
Eli Moore

Company
Per Aspera Productions

Cast
Eli Moore, Cameron McArthur, Chris Townsend, Josie Robertson

About the work
Ship Life is a medley of three original songs echoing the experience of life working aboard cruise ships. Spinning a loose arc from shore to ship to shore again, it freezes three points in time of this unusual reality.

About the director
Eli Moore is a musician spinning out his career both on land and at sea as a professional pianist and a diverse composer. You can grab a hold of him here:elimooremusic.com

 

Slice of Pie

Director | Writer | Cast
Hadley Taylor

About the work
Some shows you watch, and they totally make you think. Some may totally make your night. Every now and again you come across a show that changes your life forever. For one person in the audience, this will be that show.
Come ride the Hadley R. Taylor Rollercoaster.

 

Darker Side

Director | Writer | Cast
Edwin Beats

Company
Next Up Theatre Co.

About the work
He’s a bit spooky, he’s a bit strange and he’s a bit clueless when it comes to dealing with the nuts and bolts of life and love. But there’s something else. Something he isn’t telling us.

 

The Pleasure’s All Mine

Director | Writer
Becky Kue

Company
FOURPLAY

Cast
Becky Kuek, Daya Czepanski, Jo Clark, Paul Fagamalo

About the work
Good things come for boys who wait!
Christina, Tina, Madonna, Latifah and Beyonce, to be explicit.

About the ITC
Becky is an actor/everything-trier who loves to make an audience titter, think, and tap a toe or two. Passions include being alive whilst mixed-race, causing laughter, experiencing laughter, social activism, and excessive coffee consumption. FOURPLAY is a potpourri of unapologetic, full-frontal performers with no intention of going easy on you.



Musical , Cabaret ,


90 mins

Solo performances scoop the awards

Review by Raewyn Whyte 28th Sep 2015

Cabaret, musical theatre and burlesque have a strong audience in Auckland, especially for imported acts, and singer-songwriters are a continuing presence in the city’s bars and cafes, so it probably seemed a no-brainer to add Cabaret to the Short + Sweet Festival roster this year in partnership with Short + Sweet Song. As a combination, that should provide a richer array of programming, with more of an emphasis on theatrical performance, and hopefully provide a drawcard for local audiences

Maybe so, certainly worth trying, and surely there are plenty of currently productive creators and performers out there to leap at the opportunity. You’d think.

In the final result, however, the combined “Gala Final” of this year’s Short + Sweet Song and Short + Sweet Cabaret 2015 was a straightforward repeat of the programme of the two previous nights.  A low entry rate meant elimination heats made no sense, and all six entries took a place in the finals.

A row of cabaret-table-and-chair seating at the front of the TAPAC theatre occupied by enthusiastic patrons with various beverages in hand, set the mood.  A perhaps 50% house, again of hugely enthusiastic and supportive persons, brought a certain aura of camaraderie that suggested almost everyone knew all the performers and wished them well. (Given that this event was programmed at the same time as CATS at The Civic and TOSCA at The ASB Theatre, and just a week after the splendidly charming SWING, along with the very small array of acts, it’s hardly surprising that the event drew such a small house.)

The ten minute format lends itself neatly to three short songs, or excerpts thereof, interspersed with chat and cued by lighting and music changes. The six presentations sample the show/rock/pop/musical theatre spectrum, and each set is well-crafted, confidently performed, nicely demonstrating the strengths of each performer, their ability to communicate a character through song backed up by costume and verbal byplay with another musician or character.

The richest set, musically speaking, is Ship Life from singer-songwriter Eli Moore (vocals and keyboard)  and friends (bass, drums, vocals) who present three songs tracking his life experiences from a period spent as a cruise ship entertainer. He sings about feeling like a ghost, believing he’ll sail smoothly through this period of his life, and holding his sweetheart’s face in his hand.

Three very polished theatrical solo performances by actor/singers accompanied by asides from keyboard player Andy Manning, are given very polished delivery and receive cheers and stamped feet as well as sustained applause. In Slice of Pie, Hadley Taylor assumes a chatty, semi-comedic yet seductive nightclub persona and plays along with his selected audience member, engaging him in a series of inquiries about life choices and what it is to be brave, and what chance there is of him running away with the singer to find a new life. In Darker Side, Edwin Beats is a crazed, psychotic, twenty-something in therapy for his voyeuristic tendencies, unhealthy thoughts about co-worker Mary, and repressed anger. Singing about his anger is supposed to help him release it… as he does, on us. And in PUSS, Naomi Cohen charmingly personifies a pussycat named Miss Fuzzykins the Third, a family cat recently relocated from Remuera to Mt Albert, besieged by memories which entice her to “return home”.

Two groups round out the roster. In Sirens, Black Pearl Productions present a gentle modern fairy-tale in which young Aroha (Mia Cureen-Poko) gets support and encouragement from three female fairy-whanau to stand her ground and sing her solo at choir tomorrow; and by raunchy contrast, in The Pleasure’s All Mine, FOURPLAY belt out some popular rock anthems as if they are presented by Madonna, Latifah, Beyonce, Tina and Christina.

All four solo shows receive awards – Slice of Pie (writer/director and performer Hadley Taylor) taking the Sir James Wallace Arts Foundation Award for Cabaret; Darker Side taking Best Production for Next Up Theatre Company; Andy Manning taking best Musical Director Award; and PUSS taking Best Performer (for Naomi Cohen), The Judges Award for Best Production, and the People’s Choice Award for Most Popular Show over all three nights.  Two awards were not given as under the circumstances there was an inadequate level of competition. So no award for best singer-songwriter, and as all ensembles had performer-directors, no award for best director.

The rationale behind the whole Short + Sweet Festival is developmental — providing opportunities for those in the industry (and those aspiring to be so), to have a go at something new, discover new talent in the local pool with whom to pursue opportunities, and to enlarge the local audiences for the various genres. The Festival offers “a platform … to create high quality new work in a professional theatre environment reflecting each Festival city” …  though nothing may be longer thann ten minutes… and it’s open to all — anyone can pitch a project, and everyone is welcome to volunteer as a performer (actor, dancer, singer), director, producer, mentor, and so on).

When Short + Sweet started here in 2009 under the aegis of The Edge, rehearsal and performance spaces were in short supply, and there were very few “platforms” for performances of this kind. There was a great hunger for opportunities, though, and the first 2 or 3 Short + Sweets were  inundated with projects, enough to require the running of heats, and also allowing the drawing of wild card entries from the pool of projects that didn’t make the grade or the cut-off time for selection. However, since then, many things have changed, and in particular, there are considerably more developmental / mentoring programmes, an increased number of presentation platforms – including Auckland Fringe and a bewildering array of local, regional and thematic festivals, and an array of new performance genres which require much longer than 10 minutes to communicate their key “stories”. There is also a larger number of performance and rehearsal spaces, though many in the industry would argue that more such venues are still needed.

On the basis of the reduced number of entries and relatively lower standards of overall crafting and performance in this year’s Short + Sweet (dance, theatre, song and cabaret), and the small audiences overall, there have to be some serious questions asked about how well this festival achieves its mandate.

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