O Extravaganza! The Great Extrav Reunion Weekend & Capping Revue Revival 
Events — Naughty but Nice
Naughty but Nice
Respected professionals will get the chance to cross-dress and indulge their wayward senses of humour this weekend in a one-off reunion of the legendary Extrav student-revues.
O Extravaganza! is the title of a show that celebrates the 30 years since an Extrav was last performed at the State Opera House (although this show actually takes place at Victoria University's Memorial Theatre). The university's Alumni Relations Manager Sharon Major says the 30 year anniversary seemed like "a good excuse to peg a reunion on".
Not that many of the performers and writers needed much of an excuse - "All the people involved have been feeling nostalgic for their student youth, and they're happy to try to recreate it," Major says. "Most of them loved the opportunity. At rehearsal they've all been telling wonderful tales and recreating the delightful bits."
Among those coming back are Roger Hall, in a rare stage appearance, Liddy Holloway, now appearing as Dr McKenna's wife on Shortland Street, Steve Whitehouse, who will be flying over from United Nations in New York to appear, Cathy Downes and Dave Smith. John Clarke will be making an appearance of sorts - his notorious fear of flying prevents him returning from Australia in person, so he'll be sending a tape of his voice, Major says.
Extravs were famous (or infamous) for being in poor taste in the days before poor taste was available anywhere else. Major says a lot of the old humour will still be topical - "There are three different versions of the national anthem in the show, which they were very nervous about doing the first time. There's one version called God Help New Zealand, so it's still quite topical."
The male ballet (rugged university men dress up as ballerinas) is another stalwart making a reappearance. "I'm astonished at how many blokes are fronting up to appear in the male ballet," Major says.
It seems cross-dressing was a big component of kiwi student humour back in the 1950s and 60s: "There's also a Miss New Zealand contest, where all the contestants are blokes."
Extravs began in 1911, before that there were 'Student Revels'. The tradition lasted for more than 50 years before the introduction of internal assessment killed it in the late 1960s - "Students were too busy," Major says. "They just didn't have enough time."
O Extravaganza! will present a mixture of old classics from the heyday of the Extravs, some old Extrav characters in newly-written material (some of it by Roger Hall), and totally new material. It plays at the Memorial Theatre on Saturday July 17 at 4.30 and 8.30pm.
There will also be an exhibition of Extrav memorabilia: old photos, scripts, programmes and posters from the 50s and 60s, on display in the University Atrium.
Capital Time - Page 2
14-20 July 1993