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O Extravaganza! The Great Extrav Reunion Weekend & Capping Revue Revival [1993]

Extrav Reunion Attracts 800

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Extrav Reunion Attracts 800

They Came from all over for the Extravaganza reunion held at Vic on July 17 — a carriage full travelled by daylight express from Auckland, singing their way down the Main Trunk line (and not getting thrown off). Roger Hall flew up from Dunedin. And Steve Whitehouse, one of many to whom Extrav memories in the 60s touched a nostalgic cord, even flew in from New York.

Two performances in the Memorial Theatre of O Extravaganza! — reviving many of the most famous acts from extravaganzas through the years — drew packed audiences, and rave reviews (not surprisingly, at least one reviewer was an old Extrav hand as well).

Some 800 people took part, either on stage or in the very participatory audiences, and many stayed on for the partying afterwards.

"The show brought together people from various eras of Extrav," said Sharon Major, director of the Alumni Association. "The cast actually included people from the age of 16 to over 80.

Can Extrav be revived in all its former grandeur?

Dave Smith thinks so, and is keen to do one next year.

"They all thought their years were the best years of Extrav, but when they saw the whole programme it really brought out the continuity of the Extrav tradition."

Bill Sheat, George Andrews and Deirdre Tarrant produced the three segments highlighting items from Old Age, Middle Age and New Age respectively.

Political skits, songs in varying degrees of taste, the inevitable male ballet, all were revived, with the addition of plenty of new topical material, including a geriatric striptease act by Roger Hall which had the audience in convulsions.

Even Professor Sir Geoffrey Palmer made a cameo appearance, strolling across the stage trumpet in hand as Dave Smith was mercilessly lampooning him.

Extravaganza died after 1970, partly a victim of increasing student workloads and in-course assessment which made it difficult to mount a large-scale production at the end of the first term, although it has been revived on a more modest scale in recent years.

After the success of this year's reunion, the question naturally arose whether it can be revived in all its former grandeur.

Dave Smith thinks so, and is keen to do one next year, perhaps early in the first term.

"It would be rash to say it's going to happen, but there's definitely some enthusiasm there," said Sharon Major.

"One is almost certain in 1999 in any case – to mark Vic's centennial."

News View 13

2 August 1993