THE ORGAN GRINDER’S MONKEY – a song cycle

Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

16/03/2021 - 18/03/2021

Valhalla, 152 Vivian Street, Te Aro, Wellington

14/03/2021 - 14/03/2021

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details



The Organ Grinder’s Monkey is an original song cycle created for Fringe 2021.

The Scrap Mettle core is Madeline Ann Smith and Lorraine Tyler, the collective has come together for this Fringe Festival 2021 show only. We are a diverse group from Newtown and the Hutt Valley, from a variety of backgrounds and performance experience. Lorraine Tyler is a newcomer, this is her debut as a performer. The collective formed through the Facebook group Wellington Musicians Society, and a Moon Bar jam night.

Valhalla
Sunday 14 March 2021
6pm

Gryphon Theatre
Tuesday 16, Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 March 2021
9.30pm.

Tickets via the Fringe Festival website


Songwriting credits:
Opening instrumental – Crazy Amazing – Billy Lyrical
Happy Birthday – Madeline Ann Smith
Colours – Madeline Ann Smith
Nana – Lorraine Tyler
Innocence – Lorraine Tyler
The Changeover – Madeline Ann Smith
Dream, Cassandra – Madeline Ann Smith
Nicola Young Blocked Me On Facebook – Madeline Ann Smith
Star Walk – Madeline Ann Smith
Boot Heels – Madeline Ann Smith

Musicians:
Alex Hills – violin
Billy Lyrical – guitar
Shane Peck – drums
Madeline Ann Smith – vocals, keys, guitar
Ricki Stroud – bass
And introducing Lorraine Tyler – vocals

Props and stage dressing - design and creation – Lorraine Tyler 


Theatre , Musical ,


50 mins

An admirably innovative, authentic performance

Review by Margaret Austin 17th Mar 2021

The promotional leaflet for The Organ Grinder’s Monkey, on at the Gryphon (aka Fat G: Fringe at the Gryphon), is well-designed and classy. It tells us Members of the Scrap Mettle band – who are tuning up when I arrive – hail from Newtown and the Hutt Valley and met through the Wellington Musicians Society Facebook page. I learn later that they only got together a few months ago.  

Given that, their performance – meticulous, confident and polished – comes as a surprise. I don’t know much about music but I know what I like. And I like this; I cannot help but appreciate what I am witnessing: two female vocalists with three male and one female band members, produce just under an hour of original sound that’s as impressive as it’s intriguing.  

There’s no dialogue, so we must create our own interpretation of the opening few minutes. There’s no organ grinder but there is a barrel organ – and a monkey whose entrance you have to see to believe (or not).  

Google informs me that the grinder’s monkey is traditionally a subject of contempt and admiration; that it was chosen because its opposable thumbs allowed it to collect proffered coins. The show’s publicity blurb begins, “I believe in another life I was an organ grinder’s monkey / Tied by my little feet to the black box of my story” – which turns out to be the opening lyrics of the final song.

There are a dozen songs, belted out by our two female vocalists whose interaction provides some entertaining side business. The band provides coherent backing and is a delight to watch as well as listen to.

I don’t quite catch some of the lyrics but the ones I do hear suggest astute minds and philosophical outlooks. The show is billed as “an original music hall/ punk poetry/ rock song cycle” – fair enough.

Director Madeline Ann Smith and her team are to be congratulated for an innovative, authentic performance. It concludes with the aforementioned song, which is almost joyous: “I believe in another life I was an organ grinder’s monkey …”

Absolutely no contempt – loads of admiration. 

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