A short time and a sweet time

Yesterday was the closing night of Short+Sweet Song 2014 in Auckland. I was the Artistic Co-ordinator – a job that I in essence created for myself. A bit of back story:

Short+Sweet is an internationally franchised festival of ten-minute theatre pieces. It’s been running in Auckland since 2010, but last year they added Short+Sweet Song, an adjunct category for musical theatre. I entered a two-hander called Annie & Joshua:

It was not a large show last year: only five pieces in total. I went to the producers and said they needed a specialist to run the Song side of things, and suggested myself. They gave me the job: Artistic Co-ordinator. read more

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Zomburlesque reviews coming in.

Taking a narcissistic point of view, which is the more quotable review quote in the long run?

Jonathan W. Marshall on Zomburlesque for Theatreview:

A special non-zombie, non-burlesque treat is when Ellis, showing a musical and comic virtuosity which would not be out of place in the old Cotton Club’s own stage shows, effectively plays both the trumpet and the trombone at once, calling on the cast beside him to hold one instrument as he reaches to grab the next and immediately continue the same musical phrase on a new instrument. read more

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City of the Future

Hamiltron - City of the Future

(Design thiefed from mrvintage.co.nz)

The programme for the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival has been released. The whole festival runs from 17 February to 1 March 2012, and it’s held within the grounds of the best thing Hamilton has to offer. There are so many beautiful areas, especially the themed gardens (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, American modernist, etc), and many of the shows take advantage of those onnections.

For instance, in 2010 I performed inside the Victorian Garden Conservatory as the pianist in Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen – a slight anachronism in name (Jane Austen being from the Regency period some decades earlier), but very similar in culture and setting. read more

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Sorry, I meant to see your show – the lyrics!

By request, here are the lyrics to my song, commissioned to open the 2011 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. I owe a clear debt of gratitude to the superb opening number to this year’s Tony Awards.

I’ve also uploaded the demo I made for the singers:

Sorry, I meant to see your show (demo) by Robbie Ellis

Some lyrics changed in the rehearsal process (and we certainly slowed it down from my speed-demon intentions), but most remained the same. Forgive my falsetto for soprano parts.

“Sorry, I meant to see your show” was performed last night at the Wellington Opera House by MC Emma Kinane and the Shoreline Cab Savs (Carmel McGlone, Bryony Skillington, Jess Robinson, Martyn Wood, Nick Dunbar & Gareth Farr/Lilith La Croix), with me (Robbie Ellis) on piano. read more

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Sorry, I meant to see your show

I, George Nēpia publicity shot

I, George Nēpia - winner of four awards including Production of the Year, and yet another Wellington theatre success story I didn't end up seeing. (Publicity image thiefed from circa.co.nz.)

Last night the 2011 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards took place, an annual Wellington institution to recognise awesome. I played continuity music.

I also wrote the opening song called “Sorry, I meant to see your show”, which was performed brilliantly by the Shoreline Cab Savs and MC Emma Kinane. (Edit: Lyrics & demo here.) It’s quite appropriate: out of the nine shows that won awards – the cream of this year’s Wellington theatre crop – I saw only three. At least Nēpia has a return season starting tomorrow (Edit: Thursday) so there’s no excuse there. read more

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Otāāāgo!

I’m sitting in Dunedin Airport waiting for the 1710 to Auckland. Time for a quick blog update…

Early yesterday morning I flew from Wellington (current home) to Dunedin (next year’s home). This is my first time in Dunedin as an adult – growing up in Auckland, the only time our family made it this far south was on The Big South Island Trip one summer. (In the words of my mother: “You’re growing up in Auckland and you won’t be a real Kiwi unless you’ve seen the South Island!”) read more

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The First Asian A* B* up and running.

Place of birth / Lieu de naissance: TAKAPUNA, NEW ZEALAND

We are two performances into our eight-show season of The First Asian A* B* by Renee Liang. In a show of provincial loyalty, I went onto Trade Me and bought a second-hand 2009 North Harbour rugby jersey as a costuming decision. Its size is L, about 1.5 sizes too large for me, but it works well enough.

John Smythe has reviewed us for Theatreview, concentrating more on the script and story construction than the performances. Laurie Atkinson from the Dominion Post attended opening night; there may well be a review in Monday’s newspaper. (Edit: Dom Post review indeed appeared on Monday.) read more

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T* F* A* All Black

Rugby, racing and beer… well, just rugby and beer for me at the moment.

Since everybody else is, I’ll post this link:

Paul Fagamalo & Benjamin Teh in The First Asian A* B*

Paul Fagamalo & Benjamin Teh

Rugby vs Theatre: The First Asian AB

This interview was done by my good friend and colleague James Wenley. He’s such a good friend that I let him smash the electric guitar my parents gave me for my 12th birthday – all in the name of art. (I should really post the video of that some time.) He runs a website called Theatre Scenes, looking at the theatre scene (singular) in Auckland. Or maybe there are parallel scenes in parallel theatre universes in that city. read more

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