Photos from The Menagerie in the Opera House July 28th 2018. Photos by Paradox Photography and Jeff Tollan.
The Menagerie Variety Show returned to the Wellington Opera House on Saturday the 28th of July for a whole new one-night-only spectacular of epic proportions. It was like the Royal Variety Performance but a lot younger, fresher, weirder, more risqué and heaps more Kiwi.
This show brought a fast-paced selection of incredible performances that will take you on a provocative and entertaining journey. If you haven’t seen a variety show before, you must come – every act is completely different and you never know what’s next.
Our host Matt Powell guided us from yodeling to acrobatics with every oddity in between. There was circus, comedy, dance, music, magic, burlesque, drag, poetry and much more. From uproarious laughter to quiet awe to amazement this show really does pack one hell of a punch.
Meet the performers for The Menagerie in the Opera House 2018
Zane and Degge
Zane and Degge have been entertaining audiences around New Zealand since before they can remember. Born your average baby brothers, cute, round and bald, they are now fully fledged variety performers. Specialising in juggling clubs they are the best in the country. Most famously known for their iconic kiwi comedy they are sure to entertain and amaze.
“Quality home grown talent. Their quirkiness mixed with professional-grade skills offer a charming mix.” – Jillian Davey, TheatreReview
Born and bred in Wellington, they have made it to the final of New Zealand’s Got Talent, toured across Canada and Australia, won the “Iron Chicken” at the World Buskers festival and many things in between. Specialising in Juggling and comedy, they are the best club passers in the country. They run entertainment, production and design company, Colossal Productions with Imogen Stone.
Founded 17 years ago Wellington Batucada is a community-based percussion group which brings the flamboyant world of samba from Brazil to Wellington. The band or Bateria, emulates the traditional samba music played by large percussion groups in Brazil’s carnival parades.
At their fourth appearance at CubaDupa they absolutely wowed the crowds when they paid recognition to the roots of samba from North East Brazil (a more ‘African/Brazilian’ lean) and had them literally dancing in the streets when they paraded after their stage performance.
This all-inclusive group – anyone can join regardless of experience or ability – provides authentic Brazilian instruments for people to learn on. It has around 100 drummers and a dance Bloco of around 30. They are a must for parades, festivals and events, and you can see them at CubaDupa, Newtown Fair, Wellington and Johnsonville Christmas parades, and many more.
Batucada is the Brazilian/ Portugese word from the word Batuque: a drum, or rhythm associated with percussion instruments and African roots. Add ‘ada’ to the end and it is a group of people doing something. So Batucada means a group of people drumming which is what they do.
Over nearly a decade in and around the Wellington variety and cabaret circuit, Victor has found himself in a bewildering array of shows, costumes, and compromising positions (particularly since being shanghai’d into service of the Menagerie in 2013). Now Victor is pinching himself that he has somehow made it to performing on (and above) the Opera House stage. While he’s normally inclined to play the scene for cheap laughs, for the 2018 Menagerie Deluxe he’s bringing you something quite different.
The act he is offering is made from months of blood, sweat, and friction burns. His performance is the result of years training with some of the country’s most talented (and to be frank, most patient) circus professionals. With their help, hopefully it will all look graceful and effortless. Don’t be fooled though, grace is not something that comes naturally for wee Victor.
Having built a reputation on her live performances, warm smokey vocals and soulful delivery of both originals and rearrangements of Funk/R&B/Soul/Jazz.Vanessa Stacey performs regularly with her bands Chocolate Box, Double Trouble, Los Helios and The Shuffle having played in Australia, Europe and back here at home in New Zealand at various festivals including Splore, CupaDupa, Homegrown, Wellington International Jazz Festival, Civic Square Opening of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, The World Press Photo Exhibition and closing of The Cricket World Cup and including international support for Alice Russell, BOYSIIMEN and BONEYM
Earlier this year, Vanessa Stacey released her double debut single release
‘Stood Still’. Born from a colaberation with Haden Gilgan aka DJ Spells and evolving into two very different recordings, firstly with her incomprable band, The Shuffle featuring Chris CK.
The second, a live acoustic masterfully played by Johnny Lawrence (Electric Wire Hustle) on Double Bass and Ashton Sellars (Brockoflower) on Electric Guitar.
In 2018 Vanessa Stacey will be release two more singles from her upcoming album and futher colabrations with NZ Producer Twig Pigeon.
Through a strange quirk of science, Matt Powell has been performing longer than he seems to have been alive. A theatrical dilettante with a flair for the spontaneous, he’s tried his hand at musical theatre, pantomime, dance, and opera, but the one that’s really stuck is improvisation. Since moving up from Christchurch in 2015, Matt has become a stalwart of the Wellington improvisation scene, notably appearing with PlayShop, Wellington Soap Factory, with comedian Jonny Potts (as “The National Average”), and with Jennifer O’Sullivan in the award-winning “Awkward Threesome”.
“The suave Matt Powell cruises up to the mic… and boy, does he nail it.” – John Smythe, Theatreview
“The Kate Moss of Impro.” – Rik Brown, Impro Melbourne
“Like a baby eating a Cookie Time.” – @fancylettuce, Twitter”
Mapihi Kelland’s contemporary dance work WHARE is a tribute to those before us that moved mountains for their people, that buried treasures to unlock new ones, that stood up, and kept standing up so we keep our Whenua!
Using Maori and Pacific movement with Music from Sharn Te Pou and Mapihi Kelland to capture the push and pull and struggle of carrying with you and living your truth and culture so that your culture is strong and lives on you are strong and live on like a house.
The more we move forward today the further we get from them and their dreams but what always remains the same and constantly pulls us back is our WHARE on our Whenua. Identity, Lineage, whakapapa, Pepeha they live on.
Mr Lola Illusion
A magical wonder that delights in the discovery of the world around us.
Professional show-off Mr Lola Illusion will wow you with feats of charm, wit and awe inspiring wonder. His delightful magic act is filled with childlike discovery, cheeky surprises and humour. With 22 years of professional experience Lola has performed in Japan and Taiwan and the antipodean colony of Australia. He has two solo works The Lola Show and Lola’s Grave Mistake both of which have been performed in the Heydey Dome in Wellington’s BATS theatre.
“Lola’s stagecraft, storytelling and tongue-in-cheek humour are pure class. The world he creates have you stepping into something familiar, yet at the same time it’s a much more beautiful familiar.” – Manawatu Standard https://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/lifestyle/100264603/what-we-looked-at-on-stage-in-2017
Les Folies de L’amour
Les Folies de L’amour are an award winning cabaret, burlesque and French can-can dance troupe based in Wellington. The members of the troupe bring a diverse range of dance styles including jazz, Latin, cheerleaders, gymnastics, burlesque and cabaret; and many are well known solo performers in their own right. Together they bring you an amazing style of performances including French cancan, cabaret, jazz, 1920’s, burlesque, Bollywood and traditional Las Vegas showgirl routines.
This troupe founded by local burlesque legend Courtney L’Amour were voted favourite group in the NZ Burlesque Festival Golden Garter awards 2013. They are available to be booked for public and private events.
A long-time fan of variety shows, Jackson is excited to bring his unique style of modern circus to this Menagerie. Originally classically trained as a composer, he found his way to the circus arts through contemporary productions which combine acrobatics with music, lighting and other theatrical elements. Such combinations can make for quite striking and intriguing performances, as will be presented in this creature-contortion act.
The art of contortion, as with many circus disciplines, is about pushing the limits of the human body to do things that it cannot usually do. In the case of this performance, the idea of going beyond human ability is embraced and extended to the point where the performer begins to lose their human form and take on a new one. Using organic movements and animalistic demeanour, Jackson brings a unique creature to life onstage. Being performed for the first time in the Menagerie, be prepared for something never seen before that might leave you squirming in your seat. ”
Imogen Stone is known for her strength, musicality and quality of movement she is sure to impress and inspire. The duet between Imogen and her rope is debuting on the Opera House stage for this very special Menagerie variety show.
“Breathtaking” – Edmonton Journal, CA
Imogen has worked with the likes of World of Wearable Arts and Weta Workshop, and frequently tours Internationally. She is a skillful and versatile performer, at home on the small stages of edgy Montreal cabarets and the grand theaters of the largest cities (such as the Opera House). She runs entertainment, production and design company. Colossal Productions with Zane and Degge.
Hugo Grrrl & Eve Envy
Hugo Grrrl and Eve Envy are just your bog-standard sparkly smutty showfolk – a gorgeously goofy local drag duo bound to leave you with a smile on your face and a bit of glitter in your hair. This adorable hairy little gentleman and his biblically beautiful paramore has been shaking things up in the capital lately with their camp and comedic antics. They can’t wait to bring this brand new whimsical duo act to the Opera House for your viewing pleasure.
Hugo Grrrl also moonlights as an award-winning event producer with impressive resume of original, risque late-night cabaret and comedy shows. He was even recently awarded Best Producer in The Wellington Comedy Awards for his efforts. Check him out on Facebook for affordable and deliciously weird shows near you.
Accordions are massive in North Korea, and Emma Wollum is just trying to be responsibly prepared for the era of mutually assured destruction. An award-winning comedian and musician (2016 Wellington Pun Battle Champion, 2017 Wellington Raw Quest winner and National Raw Quest runner-up, 2017 Wellington Comedy Awards Best Joke), she was part of the first act to open the very first Menagerie in 2013, and is proud to return after previous performances involving operatic cake consumption, fake bullfighting, and singing French cabaret numbers through a Darth Vader voice-changing helmet. Described as “topical, amusing, and thought provoking” (Wellington Reviews) with a “transcendentally beautiful voice” (Art Murmurs), she occupies her niche market with gusto.
“A series of controlled (poetic) explosions”- Michael Gray, Poet
Hailing from Hawke’s Bay, Duncan Hope is a performance poet whose unique style has delighted audiences in both New Zealand and Australia. His emotive narratives invite audience members to see themselves in his poetry as he eloquently discusses the follies that plague the human condition.
Duncan’s Facebook page
Duncan’s Snapchat handle is @queerslam
Bonita Danger Doll
Miss Bonita Danger Doll is a femme fatale hailing from the shakey city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
An International glamour girl, with elegant poise and grace with a twist of raw sensuality and passion, with a love for danger that runs through her sparkly veins!
Dubbed as New Zealand’s “Queen of the Classic”, Bonita Danger Doll is Aphrodite in fishnets!
Burlesque Showgirl, Headmistress of Bonita Danger Dolls School of Tease, Singer, Emcee, Owner of Burlesquercise NZ, Co-Producer of Tease & Trouble Productions, Co-Producer of Grand Tease NZ, Princess Bonita, Makeup Artist Producer & Event Management, Stage Coach, Mentor & Tutor, and Brand Ambassador.
Bête Noire is a midi-human from the alternate dimension known as other earth, A synthetic organism, designed for the express purpose of entertaining the wealthy, performing was all she knew. One day during a show for the president of other earths birthday, there was a freak accident causing a large explosion which resulted in a vortex rift opening and transporting this helpless doll into our world. Lost and confused she has found her way to the stage once again. Prepare for an incredible performance of vocal capacity and inhuman effects.
Bandolier Masters are a team of well rounded ladies who came back to the sport after some years away from it. The team formed in 2014 and have won many titles within the sport since they formed. They are the current holders of the New Zealand Marching Masters Champion Team award in both the Technical and Display phases. This team will bring to the stage the pomp and ceremony of military drill, with a dash of fun to whet any appetite.
“He’s good” – TV3
“Very good” – TVNZ
“He nails it” – PRIME TV
Alexander is a World Top 10 Trump impersonator (as chosen by Laugh Factory Hollywood), and the guy behind the shows de Sade, ENIGMA, DJ Trump, and Fred From Featherston. He has appeared on TVNZ’s Breakfast, TV3’s The Project, and was a regular on PRIME TV’s Back Benches.
He is currently working on his most recent novel.
Winner: Best Solo Show, 2017 Wellington Comedy Awards
Winner: Outstanding Achievement, 2017 Wellington Comedy Awards
Nominated: Best Actor, 2017 Nelson Fringe Festival
Here’s what they said about our first show at the Opera House in 2017:
“Incredible performance” – Mayor Justin Lester
“SUCH an awesome show! Wow, just wow to everyone – you were the best!” – Fifi Colson
THE MENAGERIE DELUXE WAS AMAAAAAAAZING. – NZ Fringe Festival
“What a fabulous show!!” – Jac Lynch
“Never a dull moment, full of talented performers, impeccably run, used the space brilliantly, just f[…]ing great show!” – Cara Hill
“BLOODY EXCELLENT” – Jen O’Sullivan
The Menagerie at the Opera House 2017
Wellington’s only monthly variety show went big-time! The Menagerie Deluxe on Saturday the 2nd of September featured unique talents that range from opera to contortion. This fast-paced night showcased the best of local and national live performance for one night only at The Opera House.
Come along to witness an evening wilder than the Royal Variety Performance, and sexier than The Muppet Show. The Menagerie is bringing a selection of dynamic variety performers to the splendour of the Opera House stage for a night packed full of unique and unusual talent. Come along to see circus, comedy, dance, music, magic, burlesque and much more. This show brings a dynamic selection of incredible performances that will take you on a provocative and entertaining journey.
Performers of The Menagerie Deluxe
(in alphabetical order)
Increasing waste accumulation combined with mutagenic toxins and possible extra-terrestrial influences has led to the evolution of a new life-form: ALIEN JUNK MONSTERS.
However the news is not all bad, as these fellas love to BOOGIE.
Created from waste materials sourced from skips, dumps, tips, roadsides and recycling facilities, the ALIEN JUNK MONSTERS are here to entertain with their funky percussive antics, while promoting a message of waste-minimisation, recycling and creative re-use of waste material.
Victor Victorious & Clever Hansel have been working together for nearly a decade. They’ve run a gauntlet of bears, mermaids, prisoners, pirates, zombies, high culture, and low brow. They’ve sung, they’ve danced, they’ve stripped,and somehow they still haven’t been run out of town. They’re not sure why not.
Through a strange series of circumstances (and one possible blackmail), they’ve found themselves on the bill for a show in the Opera House, of all places.
Like a dog driving a limousine, they don’t know how they got here, they don’t know what they’re doing, and (despite the risk of fatalities) they’ll probably do something funny. Somehow.
David enjoys making people laugh, He studied performing arts at Hagley Theatre Company, and afterwards he went down the road of stand up comedy, performing at local variety nights like Monday Night Magic doing very off beat comedy.
He found influence in the thriving busking and circus scene in Christchurch – watching people swallow swords and walk on broken glass showed him that almost anything can be entertaining. His style of comedy can be described as a big ball of manic energy that even his body can’t keep up with.
David’s Facebook page facebook.com/dcorreos/
David’s Snapchat camerabankpower
One part showgirl, two parts clown, a dash of angel and a splash of devil. Fanciforia Foxglove is the ingenue with the screwball style, a waist so small it’s almost not there and lest we forget that award winning derriere.
Fanciforia was lured onto the burlesque stage from the world of theatre. She is now a tour de force in her own right, loved for her quirky characters, comedic flair and hammy facials. She has paid homage to a variety of beloved characters from Marilyn Monroe, the Topp Twins, Lucille Ball and Brian from the Backstreet Boys.
Fanciforia was crowned ‘Supreme Grand Tease NZ’ in 2015 and has has toured the length and breadth of Aotearoa, across the seas to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, over the ditch at the Australian Burlesque Festival through the skies to San Francisco.
Fanciforia also teaches burlesque at Venus Starr’s School of Burlesque and is a vintage hair connoisseur. She also co-produces Lip Sync Battles Wellington.
Other notable skills include the Irish Jig, Highland fling, dressage, knitting with four needles and a perfect impersonation of Janice from Friends.
Seeing a need for more showcases of Wellington’s emerging drag talent, GAG burst on to the scene mid-2016. A collection of some of Wellington’s most well known, glamorous, gender-bending stars came together to bring a little more fun and excitement to Wellington’s Queer nightlife.
From parties to charity events to straight up showboating and mincing up and down the streets, there’s nothing this fab family aren’t up for. Celebrating creativity and expression, regular GAG shows have helped grow and discover drag talent as well as highlight the amazing diversity within the art form that is drag. Their Menagerie Deluxe perforrmance comes from some of the group’s most notable performers including Anna Diction, Bunny Holiday, Kelly Fornia, Luna, Indy Pendant, Tess Tosterone, Claire Voyant, Harlie Lux, Timothy Taffy and Stephii Onassiss.
Prepare stunts, tricks and shenanigans as this outrageous, talented and fierce team of drag artists light up the stage like thousands of luminous spheres.
Hadassah Grace tells millennial fables. Spinning stories of a life lived wild, her anecdotal style combines poetry and stand-up to create something uniquely funny, complex and thought-provoking. Peel back the layers of her revelatory confessions and you’ll find a sensitive exploration of sex, politics, and sexual politics.
“These heartfelt poems reveal more than clothes could ever cover, while making sobering points about the state of the system.” – Thomas Aitken, Theatre Review
“…Hadassah painted a picture with every word…. It’s safe to say that these aren’t the kind of poems you’d yawn at.” – Tali Te Tau, Reviewer
“She’s got thunder and lightening inside her.” – Adam McGrath, The Eastern
Where does The Muse wait?
Hannah Tasker-Poland (Miss Anthropy) offers The Muse, exploring ideas of the archetypal feminine Muse and the abstract concept of inspiration.
An excerpt from an in-development, full-length solo dance theatre work, conceived and choreographed by Hannah, revealed for the first time at The Menagerie Deluxe.
Hannah is a professional dancer/performer with over ten years experience. She has worked with the likes of The New Zealand Dance Company, touring throughout Australasia and Europe, Atamira Dance Company, Footnote New Zealand Dance, World Of Wearable Arts, Borderline Arts Ensemble, Southern Lights Dance Company,The Loons Circus Theatre Company and Auckland Theatre Company.
Film/TV credits include character/stunt performer on feature films Ghost In The Shell and The Hobbit, and feature dancer/stunt performer on TV series Spartacus and Legend of the Seeker.
Hannah is well known in the burlesque/fetish realms as Miss Anthropy, with her unique blend of dark, provocative and fiercely visceral performances. She has headlined The New Zealand Fetish Balls, Capital Fetish Ball, NZ Burlesque Festival, is a regular at The Menagerie, Carousel Cabaret, Electrique Burlesque and Las Vegas Club, has performed solo at the Australian Burlesque Festival and Germany and is a sought-after body-paint & fire performer.
Hannah’s Facebook page facebook.com/missanthropy.htp.official
Harlow Lestrange is a self-described swamp witch and circle enthusiast. She never feels more at home than when she has a hoop in her hand and brushes the classic hula hoop with her own contemporary movements and unique performance quality.
Harlow has performed for The Menagerie a couple of times, including the first ever show and also produced 5 Menagerie shows in 2016.
“Lestrange commands complete attention from every last member of the audience, and she moves with such fluidity and expertise that jaws drop in awe.” — Corey Spence, Art Murmurs, 27/09/2016. (Link here to hyperlink http://www.artmurmurs.nz/theatre/the-menagerie-september-2016)
Jacquie’s influences range from soul, jazz, hip hop and rock n roll. She adores artists like Billie Holiday, Janis Martin, Amy Winehouse, Sarah Vaughn and Aretha Franklin.
She grew up in Palmerston North and moved to Wellington when shw was 19 to study Musical Theatre at Wellington Performing Arts Centre. Since then she has started a burlesque influenced girl group, performed in numerous theatre shows, performed as a solo artist in cabaret shows, as a bio queen/burlesque fringe artist and attended the New Zealand School of Music to learn in jazz vocals. Jacquie also manages a fun shop on Cuba Street where she constantly listens to music that inspires her and is probably way too loud.
Jacquie’s Instagram @jacquie_shabby
Jacquie’s Snapchat kikifeefee
Having won the Billy T Award, the NZ Comedy Guild Best Female Comedian (twice) and the NZCG Best MC (also twice), Justine has established herself as one of the key players in new Zealand Comedy. With a flick of the eye and “To be honest…” she will have the audience in stitches.
If you were to try and define Justine as a lover or a fighter, you’d have to say a healthy mix of both. She is capable of tearing strips off people on stage, and then having a drink with them after the show. A leading light of New Zealand Comedy, Justine is just as comfortable in a theatre or a local bar in the country. Simply put, one of our best.
Kade and Jeremy are an award winning comedy and magic duo based in Wellington. They met while they were studying acting together and thought they would start doing magic and telling jokes on stage to try and raise some money to help with the crippling debt. They have been performing together for 5 years and between them have won a few awards here and there, New Zealand Parlour Magic Champion being one of them! That one was kinda rigged though cause they got trained by Gandalf through Peter Jackson, so it was always a sure thing. They have performed in numerous New Zealand International Comedy Festivals as well as local festivals all over the country.
In their spare time Kade’s a marriage celebrant and a fire fighter, and Jeremy has often skipped the country helping to build all sorts in the Islands. Together the boys own a bird and a chinchilla, so they always have their hands full. Come along and get on the crazy train along side them.
Laura grew up in the South Island, and was immersed in music and theatre from a young age. After high school Laura moved to Wellington and studied Classical Performance Voice at Te Koki New Zealand School of Music, where she gained both her BMus and PGDip Mus under the tutelage of Flora Edwards, who she continues to study with. She also has her ATCL (Distinction) in Performance Speech and Drama and her Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary).
Laura has worked in Musical Theatre, Opera and Theatre. Over the years and some of her roles have included; Grace in Annie, Mrs Ducat in Polly (John Gay), Juno in Semele (Handel), Gianetta in The Gondoliers (Gilbert and Sullivan) and Claire in Ordinary Days (Adam Gwon), Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), Queen and Belaria in Cymbeline (Shakespeare), Laura also works in the NZOpera Freemasons Chorus. Laura has been a finalist in the IFAC Napier Aria competition, Dame Malvina Major Foundation Wellington Aria finalist, and was awarded Judges Choice in the finals of the Dunedin Aria Finals. She is a passionate teacher, having worked both as secondary teacher of Drama and Music and as a private vocal tutor.
Ngāi Tauira, the Māori Students’ Association at Victoria University’s core business is to represent and advocate for the wellbeing of tauira Māori during their time at Victoria University.
Ngāi Tauira supports two Māori students’ associations on campus; Ngā Rangahautira – Māori Law Students’ Association, Ngā Taura Umanga – Māori Commerce Students’ Association.
Ngāi Tauira is also a member of Te Mana Akonga; the National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association where Māori student concerns are campaigned and lobbied at a National level, to improve and promote positive educational outcomes for tauira Māori.
Nichollas Tasman (aka Taz) is a local performer and circus facilitator. He brings a background of touring with Circus Aotearoa and teaching locally in Wellington Circus Trust, Kapiti Circus and Slipstream Circus in Tasmania. He has a movement background rooted in dance and outdoor adventure which is woven into his Aerials. He may also be found throwing people and juggling hats.
Nichollas’ Website venturecircus.nz
Skye Broberg is a graduate of CPIT’s Circo-Arts program and has worked as a core member of the Hagley Dance Company and The Loons Circus Theatre Company. Skye has performed throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and most recently in Jamaica as well as appearing on Guinness World Record shows in four countries.
Skye’s Website sky-circus.com
Internationally acclaimed, published tattoo model and cover girl.
Powerhouse burlesque and circus showgirl, event host and producer.
Entertainer extraordinaire, the ultimate speciality act.
Head mistress of Venus Starr’s School of Burlesque, Venus is notoriously known as New Zealand’s powerhouse burlesque & circus showgirl. Venus has headlined & appeared at multiple events and festivals around the globe. A starlet in the entertainment industry for over 10 years with a diploma in Circus Arts.
This unique show is grateful to kind and generous support of Wellington City Council‘s Venues Subsidy. We support the Wellington City Council’s vision for Wellington to be a smart city – an inclusive place where ‘people choose to live’. In particular community outcome of Wellington being a “Dynamic Central City […] A place of creativity, exploration and innovation”. Thanks WCC, you are ace.