WITside Story: an improvised musical

BATS Theatre, Wellington

06/10/2010 - 06/10/2010

NZ Improv Festival 2010

Production Details

Something’s coming…strike up the band and get those jazz-hands ready…it’s an all singing, all dancing improvised musical! Come and see the WIT guys and dolls working in harmony (we hope) to perform chorus lines without lines, wicked and wonderful stories told in song and all made-up on the spot from audience suggestions.

Put on your hairspray and get ready for an enchanted evening of story telling which should sound like music.

WITside Story: where every night is opening night.
So consider yourself…invited.

Wed 6 October, 2010

New Zealand Improv Festival 

Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th October 2010
6.30pm, 8pm, 9.30pm 
$16 Full / $13 Concession / 3 Show Pass $40 and $30
1hr 5min

WIT Website 

The New Zealand Improv Festival is back for its third year – bigger, edgier, funnier, and ready to attack Wellington with awesome!

Bringing the very best improv companies in NZ together with stupendous international acts, the NZ Improv Festival is a comedic carnival, completely dedicated to making it up as we go along.

Crumbs (Canada) and returning 2009 performer Rebecca De Unamuno (Sydney) are joined by groups from across NZ to showcase the best of improvisational theatre for your entertainment. Get ready to change the way you see spontaneous…

Using nothing more than their wit and gumption these purveyors of on-the-spot creation will transfix you to the stage, all the while treading that highwire between genius and disaster. Even if it fails… it still succeeds!

Wellington Improvisation Troupe (Wgtn), The Improvisors (Wgtn), The Court Jesters (Chch), The Con Artists (Akld) Rebecca De Unamuno (Sydney) and Crumbs (Canada)

Book tickets! 

Christine Brooks  
Robbie Ellis
Geoff Simmons  
Anton Van Helden  
Paul Sullivan
Jennifer O'Sullivan
Mark Scott
Ralph McCubbin-Howell

Artisic Director – Derek Flores
Producer – Merrilee McCoy
Musician – Robbie Ellis
Lighting – Darryn Woods
Publicist – Brianne Kerr   

1hr 5 mins, no interval

Comic combustion eludes improv jam

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 08th Oct 2010

Though there’s a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Improv Theatre should change its name to Spontaneous Theatre (it’s more likely to get a grant with it), the title of the third festival of DIY comedy is called The NZ Improv Festival and is already under way at Bats and the Fringe Bar for late night jams. There are groups from Canada, Australia, Christchurch and Auckland.

In a busy week I decided to take a chance with our own Wellington Improvisation Troupe’s first attempt at a spontaneous musical. After a very brief warm-up and a warning to lower one’s expectations the already enthusiastic audience at Bats was asked for a setting for a musical. Someone shouted out ‘a ski chalet’, which the cast quickly accepted, and straight away we were off sliding the slippery slopes of piste.

We soon had a heroine, Rebecca, a strong Kiwi lass, whose first job is as a kitchen hand in the chalet. As in all old-fashioned musicals Rebecca eventually finds true love and a happy ending with the man who rescued her from a snowy death.

 The songs were pretty atrocious, the rhyming casual, and the singing (not that it mattered) just passable. It was just like a poor amateurish production of a musical in which a couple of the cast only just controlled their corpsing, though I have to admire the skill with which the plot was brought to a neat conclusion on the hour with all the characters on stage for the finale.

The American director Charles Markowitz reckoned that about 60 per cent, if he was lucky, of improvisational programmes was usable and the rest expendable when he was working with Spike Milligan and a young Barry Humphries for a BBC series. And that was working without an audience.

When the inspiration was there, Marowitz wrote, the rehearsal room was berserk with outbreaks of uncontrollable energy and rocked by incredible acts of comic invention.

And that’s the trouble with Improv, if instantaneous combustion doesn’t occur we are left with nothing very much except the occasional funny moment. On the other hand, tomorrow night at Bats you might be lucky and there might well be outbreaks of uncontrollable energy and incredible acts of comic invention.
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Satisfyingly musicalesque

Review by Maryanne Cathro 07th Oct 2010

WITSide Story is the first piece in the NZ Improv Festival Showcase. Featuring Wellington’s own Wellington Improv Troupe, it is that trendiest of improv shows – the musical. I have seen several of these recently. Luckily they have all been hilarious.

The challenges of making up rhyming lyrics to a tune which is coming directly out of Robbie Ellis’ head is the improv equivalent of bungy jumping. Do people really do this for kicks?! You can almost see the performers at times try to claw a word back before the cheerfully sadistic Mr Ellis decides it is a cue for a song. But of course he almost always swoops and the resulting raps, power ballads, light opera and romantic solos and duets are all the funnier for it. 

The improv actors this night are: Christine Brooks, Anton Van Helden, Paul Sullivan, Jennifer O’Sullivan, Mark Scott and Ralph McCubbin-Howell.

The improv musical, based on an audience suggestion, is set in a ski chalet. The big opening number is about not getting Piste on the Piste.

Christine and Ralph become a couple from Northern America who are trying to dampen down the sizzle in their relationship, which having eight children and preferring their peanuts chilled has so far failed to do.

Jen and Paul are a student in her first winter job as a chalet maid and Hans the German chalet owner who tries to convince her that labour laws do not apply above 2,000 metres.

Anton is Brian, a fair dinkum, inarticulate Kiwi bloke who is a ski patroller in winter and a surf life saver in summer. That leaves Mark’s Richie, the cool ski instructor who always gets the girl. Oh, and King, the invisible malamute that is Brian’s constant companion. He seems to be very licky…

The plot though simple is satisfyingly musicalesque – the poseur gets his comeuppance and the real bloke gets the pretty girl after saving her from a blizzard. Everyone sings and takes a bow. Aww.

Of course, these characters are fleeting and the next WITSide story musical will be completely different. And no doubt equally as entertaining!  


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