3rd Birthday *Best Of* show for Wellington’s Weirdest

The Menagerie is celebrating a very special occasion at the end of this month. Saturday 26 marks the show’s third birthday at The Fringe Bar.

Since 2013 the Menagerie has hosted everything from acrobats and burlesque acts, through to glass-eaters and xylophonists. Rouge has become a regular figure at live entertainment across the capital, always on the search for the new, unusual and bizarre acts.

“There have been hundreds of never-to-be-repeated moments that I felt privileged to be experiencing” says Rouge. “We aim with every show to deliver something memorable. We had one show when all the stage lights blew, and the comedian had to finish their set under the lights of mobile phones. Our technician Belle sorted everything out while the next act stood behind the curtain dressed as a martini glass.”

“There have been surreal moments, like when (Scottish sword swallower) Rachel Atlas warned me, ‘Don’t hand me the mic while I’m standing on the tesla coil. We’ll all be electrocuted’.“

The Menagerie will be celebrating with a ‘Best Of’ line up curated by Menagerie main-stay Eli Joesph. Eli is bringing back crowd favourites, and some exceptionally unusual acts. Alongside internationally performing clowns and aerialists, audiences can also expect prize winning comedians and burlesque dancers. Plus a performance from Rachel Rouge herself.

“Every show is different, and every part of every show is different. Our main goal every time is to entertain. We aspire to deliver the kind of show that has at least one act that really hits you in the heart, the kind of performance you’re still thinking about a week later.”

The Menagerie’s third birthday is on at the Fringe Bar, Saturday 26th November. Tickets available from eventfinder.co.nz or on the night.

Special *Best Of* show by Eli Joseph: Saturday the 26th of November, 8pm at The Fringe
Special *Best Of* show by Eli Joseph: Saturday the 26th of November, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington

Rachel talks about her kidney donation on RadioNZ

Producer of The Menagerie Rachel Rouge, donated her left kidney to the waitlist via the New Zealand kidney exchange programme.

Listen to her interview with Bryan Crump on RadioNZ Nights: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/nights/audio/201820293/kidney-kindness

Here’s a picture of Rachel’s actual kidney before it went to its new home.

Rachel Rouge's actual kidney. Donated on 1st of June 2016
Rachel Rouge’s actual kidney. Donated on 1st of June 2016

Before Rachel donated she shared a bit of her testing experiences at The Menagerie’s May show. You can watch a video of it here (the focus is drunk, but the sound is ok).

A fresh new variety show line-up to welcome spring.

This month, on Saturday the 24th of September, our variety show at the Fringe Bar will be hosted by seasoned storyteller Caroline Welkin, and feature another wonderful collection of talented performance oddities like hoop dancer Harlow Lestrange, burlesque performer Kiki Kisses, aerialist Pande-monium, magician Maor Ben-Shahar, comedian Josh Davies, singer Bea Lee-Smith, and uncategorisable acts like poetry from all round vaudevillian Victor Victorious and humorous social commentary ukulele music from Free & Frank.

Wellington reviewers Art Murmurs said this about the Menagerie: “The performers were equally balanced between emerging artists and established performers. Each of them obviously being chosen for their talent and stage presence, both of which was notably high across the board”.

Also “The rhythm of the show was put together in a way that had the audience surprised and engaged at the artistic turns; for a long show we never felt bored or restless”. Read the full review on their website.

Producer Rachel Rouge says “Each show is completely different, the MC has a huge effect on the vibe of the show so we try to mix it up as much as possible, we’ve had hilarious comedians, bouncy circus stars, sultry burlesque dancers. This month we have Caroline, a sarcastic storyteller comedian from Upper Hutt. We can’t wait.”

Come along and see what the September show brings.

Saturday the 24th of September, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington
Saturday the 24th of September, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington

This month’s show was curated with only one kidney.

The Menagerie’s show on the 30th of July at The Fringe Bar will be the first one Rachel Rouge has produced since she donated her kidney at the beginning of June. July’s show is a renal smooth operation.

This month’s performers include Ben Hurley, the recipient of many awards; SheShe Velour a burlesque singer recently transplanted from Australia; Stephen Wilbury who contact juggles with surgical precision; The Doubtful Sounds an A Capella choir with compatible voices that are a perfect match; The Aqua Breeze who’s circus elective is hula hoops; Tom Sutton is incredibly skilled in the artery of magic and illusion, but never vein about it; Victor Victorious a specialist performer, Menagerie family blood, who would dialysis for the show; Duncan Hope you’ll need a tissue for some of his beautiful poems, he knows how to use his best organ (his brain); and finally urine luck, our MC Mr Lola Illusion will open the keyhole, he’ll uncover and recover a night of altruistic joy.

“Since my laparoscopic nephrectomy I’ve had time to book some really fantastic acts for this show and for the rest of the year.” says Rouge.

So for your health, come along and willingly donate your time to enjoying Wellington’s monthly variety show. It won’t leave a scar, and laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you.

The Menagerie variety show is on at 8pm at The Fringe Bar, 28 Allen Street, Wellington. Tickets are $30 available from Eventfinder or for cash on the door.

The Menagerie is on the last Saturday of every month (except December). The Menagerie management promises that the show will not be full of kidney donation references. They think they’ve got it out of their urinary system now.

Saturday the 30th of JuLY, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington
Saturday the 30th of JuLY, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington

The Menagerie’s fantastically curated mid-winter show is on the 25th of June

Harlow Lestrange is bringing a fantastically curated line-up to The Menagerie for her 3rd show on June 25th.

The mid-winter show brings circus and intrigue in the form of the dynamic Boomtown Okrabats, the Man in Blue himself, Andrew Welsh and Auckland based juggler and musician, Kozo Kaos.

Cabaret and drag enter into the mix with burlesque artist Twyla Deville and gender anarchist Tess Tosterone. Musician Andy Gartrell adds original music and Raw Comedy Quest winner 2016 Lucy Roche will feature with her unforgettable brand of saucy humour.

Prominent Wellington avant-garde drag queen Stephii Onassis will tie the show together hosting the evening, promising an unforgettable night.

Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm on the dot at The Fringe Bar. Tickets are available from Eventfinder, or for cash on the door. It’s $30 any way you pay.

June 2016 Poster
Saturday the 25th of June, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington

The Menagerie in April is a one-time-only lounge gig

For this month only, The Menagerie is being hosted in a special pop-up venue that also happens to be the home of Rachel Rouge – The Menagerie’s director. For the 30th of April, producer Harlow Lestrange, hopes to capture a quirky, fun and relaxed vibe, like no other house party you’ve ever been to.

“This show is going to be spectacular with a stunning line up of fabulous performers, and also so much more cosy and intimate with the audience seated on sofas and lounge chairs,” says Rachel Rouge, adding “I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone. I’m glad I have very tolerant flatmates.”

Rouge will also MC the show, which features a fabulous line up put together by Harlow Lestrange, including: Australian hula hoop burlesque artist Hannie Helsden, comedian Penny Ashton, local musician Benjamin Embers, drag king Hugo Grrrl, monsters Tangle and Dangle, cabaret artists The Dulcet Duo, general carnie mischief with Victor Victorious and the juggling brothers Zane and Degge.

Come be a part of this one-time only Menagerie experience on April 30th, 8pm at 40 Cuba Street. Doors open at 7pm.Tickets can be found on Eventfinder, or bought at the door on the night for $30 cash (no booking fees either way you decide to pay!).​

Poster 30 April 2016
Saturday, 30th April, 8pm at 40 Cuba Street, Wellington

The Menagerie is an extraordinary way to have an excellent Easter

This month The Menagerie – Wellington’s monthly variety show – has outdone itself with a selection of internationally recognised, award winning and high caliber acts. Featuring two of New Zealand’s top burlesque performers: the stunning Duchess deBerry from Auckland, and the incredible Ruby Ruin from Christchurch. Also from Christchurch is our MC, Guinness Book of Records breaking comedy entrepreneur Shay Horay.

We also have talented writer, director and comedian Cohen Holloway who has starred in What We Do in the Shadows, Good for Nothing, Until Proven Innocent, road trip short Coconut, Find Me a Maori Bride and the soon to be released Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Also in this fantastic line up is chanteuse Ruthie le Bleu, 
circus artist 
Imogen Stone, musician Joel Lester, singer Nancy Saltrocks, and contemporary dancer Francesca Willow who dances to poetry.

Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm sharp. Tickets  are available online from Eventfinder or for cash on the door. It’s $30.

Poster 26 March 2016
Saturday the 26th of March, 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington,

We have brought in a fantastic new circus co-producer for 2016

The Menagerie, Wellington’s long running monthly variety show is making some progressive changes for 2016. Director Rachel Rouge has brought in a young local circus performer Harlow Lestrange to produce 5 shows this year. Lestrange will be producing 5 of this year’s eleven shows starting with Saturday the 27th of February.
“Harlow is in complete control of booking the shows on every even numbered month, I’ll be producing the odd numbered months.” says Rouge. “We are really excited to have Harlow on board, she’s got experience as a producer from producing her own shows like the drawing event Dr Sketchy Wellington and burlesque revue Nerdlesque. She is also a talented circus performer so understands how to put a show together that will showcase the best of each act.”

Lestrange is a hula hoopist and fire performer currently studying a diploma in Circus Arts and Dance at Whitireia. She has put together a brilliant line up for the show on Saturday February 27th. 

Lestrange’s first Menagerie includes: Australian burlesque artist Glitta Supernova, poet Olivia Hall, celtic duo Faí, MC Miss Lizzie, charismatic Ladderman fresh from the World Buskers Festival, mime KBG Purple, comedians Sarah Harpur & Snap, and accordion music from Sunshine Cannery.
The Menagerie stage is bound to benefit from Lestrange’s fresh perspective, youthful vitality, new insights.


February 2016 Poster
Show is at 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington, Saturday the 27th of February


Welcome back to another year of variety show oddities

After a December break, Wellington’s monthly variety show The Menagerie is back. Director Rachel Rouge and her team have 11 completely new incredible shows for 2016. There’s a different show on the last Saturday of every month (except December) at The Fringe Bar.

Rouge has curated a strong line up with dance, contact juggling, magic, comedy, opera, puppetry, hula hoops, contemporary dance, music and more. “I’m really excited about the puppetry from Jon Coddington. He’s the puppet-maker for the award winning marionette show Puppet Fiction, but for The Menagerie he’s performing a vignette from his upcoming Fringe show Dorge’s ABCDS&M. His puppets will be doing things you don’t normally see puppets do.” says Rouge.

To bring together her bounteous company of diverse acts, Rouge attends as many live performance events as she can. “I go to poetry readings, stand up gigs, circus events, burlesque and cabaret shows, whatever I can.” Rouge feels that the work she puts into scouting really pays off in putting together a quality line up for The Menagerie audiences.

“I look for unusual and talented acts, but most of all, acts need to be absolutely entertaining. Any act that I’m still thinking about the next day goes onto my wish list.”

The Menagerie January show takes place on the 30th of January, at 8pm, at The Fringe Bar (26 Allen Street). Tickets are $30, available through Eventfinder. Or for $30 cash on the door.

Show is at 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington, Saturday the 30th of February
Show is at 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington, Saturday the 30th of February

Embrace your inner darkness with the Halloween edition of The Menagerie

As the days in Wellington get progressively longer, monthly variety show The Menagerie embraces the dark with their special Halloween show on Saturday 31 October 2015 at 8 pm at The Fringe Bar.

While outside, bright sunny days and blooming daffodils bring the promise of summer, inside The Fringe Bar on the last Saturday of October the mood will be entirely different. Jars of wet specimens will decorate the bar. Skulls, weapons, cobwebs and creatures will hang from every corner. A caged vulture will ominously watch the curious display of talented performers.

But the highlight of the evening are the performers:

Comedy by hilarious new comedian Sera Devcich
Burlesque by Miss Anthropy (Auckland)
Aerial hoop by Cherry Boomb (Napier)
Freakshow acts by Roxy Paradox
Dance by Les Folies de La Mort (by daylight they’re known as Les Folies de L’amour)
Magic and mystery from Mike Kay
Hosted by notorious New Orleans voodooist Samuel S Snakeeyes
A reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven by producer Rachel Rouge

“I love Halloween,” says Rouge. “Half of the decorations we’ll be using on the night will be from my own collection of skulls and oddities. Halloween is a perfect time to dress up and embrace the dark, the scary and the creepy.”

For the first time, The Menagerie will hold a best dressed competition, with prizes awarded to the best costume on the night. Bring out your inner vampire, zombie, witch, ghoul or devil and come along to a show that is sure to evoke the Halloween spirit in even the brightest of souls.

October Poster 2015
HALLOWEEN Show is at 8pm at The Fringe bar, Wellington, Saturday the 31st of October