The Morrisons: Huntly High and Low

Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, Dunedin

08/04/2008 - 12/04/2008

Mighty Mighty, Wellington

23/04/2008 - 26/04/2008

The Basement Theatre, Auckland

07/05/2008 - 10/05/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


Just home from a "twelve-year whirlwind world tour", long lost Waikato cabaret family The Morrisons are set to enthral Dunedin Fringe Festival and NZ International Comedy Festival audiences with Huntly High and Low, their burlesque buffet of music, dance and heartrending stories of life on the road while living in the gutter.

Vying with two lesbian sisters as Huntly’s most famous musical family, The Morrisons wowed the locals in the late 80’s with such unforgettable shows as Why? Why? Why? Waikato, Heart and Coal, and I’ve Got Flues For You. Yet, at their peak and prompted by the sudden disappearance of their singing mother, Mrs. Morrison, they vanished from the northern Waikato entertainment scene and tens of fans were left devastated. Huntly never recovered.

If you had long range entertainment radar you would have realised that rather than crashing The Morrisons had taken off on a twelve-year whirlwind world tour. "We figured touring would be the best way to trace our Mother", mused Russell Morrison, "rumour was she’d fled New Zealand and gone solo – and all we’ve ever wanted is to know why." Thus the singing boys, with their ivory tinkling father in tow, proceeded to criss-cross the globe like drug mules leaving everybody they touched on a high; "The hottest thing since the fire-storm!" raved The Dresden Weekly.

Behind the songs, the smiles, and spangley suits however there is the emotional torment of a motherless family swept along in a punishing touring tsunami. Their fame comes at a heavy cost. Like true professionals they insured the show would always go on, but the tears are noticeable; "They cried for two hours…so did the audience," noted The Gothenburg Gazette.

After twelve years The Morrisons are finally home again, penniless, motherless, but still determined to sing and smile. What can you expect? Here’s a word from the boys themselves:

"We sing, we dance, sometimes both at the same time." said Greg Morrison.

"The audience become our absent mother’s breast and their laughter is her milk, we aim to suck the audience dry." added Russell Morrison.

"I love a nice warm hand on my entrance, and a big one on my exit is even better." pondered Paul (Pop) Morrison.

The Morrisons cover it all, from The Smiths to Straightjacket Fits, from A-Ha to The Arcade Fire. Huntly High and Low is a night of unforgettable musical mayhem and hilarity that’s not to be missed. No one will leave un-touched.

paul barrett
greg cooper
russell pickering

Sound/Stage Management:  RICKY HUNTINGTON

Huntly High and Low – 

Dunedin Fringe Festival
Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, 419 Great King St
April 8 – 12th @ 10pm
Tickets $15 ($10 Concession)
@ Fortune Theatre – 03 477 8323

NZ International Comedy Festival

Dates: Wed 23, Thu 24, Sat 26 April, 8pm
Venue: Mighty Mighty, 104 Cuba St
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Tickets: Adults $20 / Conc. $15 / Groups 10+ $15 (service fees may apply)

Dates: 7 – 10 May, 10pm
Venue: Basement (ex-Silo), Lower Greys Ave, City
Tickets: Adult $20 / Conc. $15 / Groups 10+ $15 (service fees may apply)
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration: 1 hour

paul barrett
greg cooper
russell pickering

Sound/Stage Management:  RICKY HUNTINGTON

Huntly High and Low - 

1hr, no interval

Musically splendid but missing a key dimension

Review by John Smythe 25th Apr 2008

Russell, Greg and Paul (Pop) Morrison, "the long lost Waikato come-back cabaret family [we] never knew left", have returned to New Zealand after a world wide search – high and low – for their "God-warrior" mother/wife who fled the fold after they shamed her at the opening of the Huntly (coal-fired) Power Station (commissioned in 1983).

This is the pretext on which Russell Pickering, Greg Cooper and Paul Barrett band together to perform their re-worded versions of 1980s hits: ‘The Final Countdown’ (Europe); ‘Space Oddity’ (David Bowie); ‘Do You Know …?’ (Diana Ross); ‘Paradise City’ (Guns & Roses); ‘Today’ (Smashing Pumpkins); ‘What a Feeling’ (from Flash Dance); ‘Lust 4 Life’ (Iggy Pop); ‘She Speeds’ (Straitjacket Fits); ‘Mother’ (Pink Floyd); ‘There’s a Light That Never Goes Out’ (The Smiths); ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ (Bonnie Tyler); ‘Fox in the Snow’ (Belle & Sebastian’); ‘Hunting High and Low’ (Norwegian pop band a-ha).

With great musical flair and skill, Russell and Greg lead the singing while Paul’s nimble-fingered ‘Pop’ plays keyboards and adds backing vocals. So far so splendid.

Betwixt and between the songs, Russell and Greg narrate their tragic story, into which Paul (not to be confused with Pop, who became a depressive mute the day his wife left) inserts an impressive array of character voices, including Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, who personally invited Huntly’s best-known musical family (second-only to the Topp Twins) to perform at the aforementioned opening.

Thus we discover that it was the way the boys shook their booties and gyrated their pelvises – they’d practiced so hard in their bedroom! – that made their mother drop her "red ring" in horror and run. Or to be more precise, she threw her tambourine, "and suddenly Greg was pounded with something hard from behind." Noting how liberally the tale is sprinkled with such innuendo, I am not surprised to learn that the show had its genesis at a Rainbow Labour fund-raising event.

But despite being the ‘gay brothers’ answer to the Topps’ lesbian sisters, the Morrison boys have no tangible relationship on stage; in fact as they tell their often extremely dramatic story, it seems to have happened to someone else. There needs to be something more – something that happened overseas that remains unresolved in the present, perhaps? – to give their story-telling a dynamic that’s more than mere reportage.

It’s a shame, because the script is quite witty and evocative as it liberates them from the loneliness of late night talk-back to their international search, via Berlin "to every debauched city in the world."

Perhaps if I hadn’t seen The Lonesome Buckwhips Charity Gala, I wouldn’t have realised how much more a family-based comic musical ensemble could offer, regardless of whether their stock-in-trade is original songs (Buckwhips) or covers (Morrisons). The premise is fine, it just needs that extra ‘present moment’ dimension to reach its full potential.


Greg Cooper April 30th, 2008

Thanks for coming John. Just for the record we haven't changed any of the words of the songs we use in the show, just the arrangements.

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