VANCE FONTAINE IN COMMAND PERFORMANCE
at BATS, Wellington
From 8 Apr 2012 to 12 May 2012
The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 15 May 2012 to 19 May 2012
Reviewed by: John Smythe; Ewen Coleman (The Dominion Post);
One Man, One Band, One Hour.
When Greg Ellis takes to the stage as Vance Fontaine in this year's NZ International Comedy Festival he will have no idea what to expect next. Completely at the mercy of the audience and a four piece band he will tell the story of one forgotten Kiwi Music legend and sing the songs he has left as his legacy. For the first time in New Zealand one performer, accompanied by a live band, will create a solo improvised musical comedy show. That sounds like a lot of adjectives for a single show but COMMAND PERFORMANCE promises something unlike anything comedy audiences in New Zealand have ever seen, or heard.
COMMAND PERFORMANCE is the story of Vance Fontaine, 70s and 80s lounge singer, raconteur and man of the world. While the rest of New Zealand talks about John Rowles, Sir Howard Morrison, even Ray Woolf, Vance Fontaine remains underappreciated in Kiwi music circles – maybe because he is entirely fictitious. Greg Ellis hopes to remedy that (all except the fictitiousness part) with a show that sees the audience ask Vance for the stories that have shaped him as a man and an artiste. These stories have all influenced Vance's music and each story will lead into a song, improvised entirely on the spot by both Ellis and band.
COMMAND PERFORMANCE sees 22 year improvised comedy veteran, Wellingtonian Greg Ellis, team up with local musicians to create a completely unscripted cabaret style performance where the music plays as big a part as the gags in between. “I want this show to be more than just short improv games,” says Ellis. “This will feel like going to an intimate cabaret show with songs as well as stories that will change each and every night, a key challenge will be seamlessly integrating the audiences role, I want to step away from the stop and start nature of traditional improv ask fors and weave it into the banter that is typical of this style of music show.”
The show is a recipient of a grant from the Creative Comedy Initiative – a NZ Comedy Trust grant that encourages innovative work that involves collaboration between comedians and other arts practitioners. In this case Greg Ellis teams up with musical director Tane Upjohn-Beatson and a band of crack improvising musicians. One of last year's recipients Steve Wrigley is the producer of COMMAND PERFORMANCE.
“To witness Ellis' ability to create a complete show from start to finish is a truly hilarious and unique experience, I learned almost everything I know about comedy from Greg, He's brilliant. This show is going to be a stand out performance in the festival. It will not just push the limits of what great Improv can be; it will set a very high bar for all the other acts in the festival, including, of course, myself.” - Steve Wrigley
As part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2012
GREG ELLIS IS VANCE FONTAINE IN COMMAND PERFORMANCE
Duration: 1 hour
For a full line up of performances, booking details & more information, visit www.comedyfestival.co.nz
Vance Fontaine: Greg Ellis
His Peculiar Sensations:
Drums L. Ron Beattie played by Thomas P. McGrath
Bass John Doe played by Matiu Whiting
Guitar Tony Fork played by Tane Upjohn-Beatson
Keyboard Errol Flanagan played by Takumi Motokawa
Dramaturg/outside eye: Tim Spite
Musical Director: Tane Upjohn-Beatson
Lights: Darryn Woods
Set: Greg Ellis