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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 9 June 01, 1938

House Full Excellent Extravaganza

House Full Excellent Extravaganza

Extravaganzas, like many other Varsity institutions, are a law onto themselves. They can scarcely be judged by the standards that would apply to musical comedy or to drama. Let it be said right at the start that this year's Cappicade, though perhaps not the best of recent years, was well up to the high standard that the public has come to expect since the Extravaganza was revived.

I came away this year with the words and tune of "Rollo, the Ravaging Roman." running through my head, and still chuckling over "the voice that breathed o'er Eden" and "the nation of suckers." Indeed, the wisecracks that were scattered liberally throughout the shows were so numerous that I should need to see the scripts to recall most of them. The performers and producers were well served by this year's authors, both named and anonymous. The Extravaganza as a whole steered a very sensible middle course between the humour that would appeal to the general public and that more especially for student consumption. The reiteration of the appeal for the building fund, and the utterances of the professors were the only items which might have been lost upon people not familiar with [unclear: University poiltics and personalities.]

A Banned Item.

The opening sketch was well conceived.' but, at least on the evening I saw it, was not particularly well carried out. Intended as a promise of better things to come, it lacked the gusto in its final chorus which should have made the audience sit up in eager anticipation. Stage business if it is to be effective, must be carefully rehearsed In detail and not left to the whim or inspiration of the performer as appeared to be the case, particularly in the antics of the professors.


"Adam Baba and the Forty Leagues" was the tautest and most telling part of the show. This was so because the satire was direct, sustained, and except for the strained puns in the sign-post scene, relevant to the development of the plot. The setting of the sketch was adequate architecturally, but its drab appearance showed it to be part of J. C. Williamson's old stock-in-trade. In this respect it was of course, no worse than what we saw recently in "Victoria Regina" and "George and Margaret." but it was disappointing that better use was not made of the opportunities for the employment of ighting and colour. The weakest point in the sketch was the chorus at the end of Scene II, Either the song was taken too slowly or as I consider more likely, the tune itself was un-suitable for that point in the story. Where it should have been triumphant martial and determined it was slow, mournful and resigned. The two highlights of the piece were the exposure of the leagues as disguised fascists and the final snatch from "God Defend New Zealand."

Unholy Trio.

The three principals playing the parts of Mess-Tin. Spread-Well and Omay-Zingrab served the piece well, better in the spoken passages than in the singing, at the conclusion of which they showed too obvious signs of relief. Mr. Bliss, playing the part of [unclear: Mess Tin is nature comedian who exploited the humour of the piece] to the full. Messrs. Morrison and Aimers, though not quite as spontaneous, pointed their remarks well and put over their lines in spirited fashion. The male ballet was a wel come splash of colour, and the danc ing of the two performers at the ends of the ballet line was particularly sinuous and supple.


The "interlewd." "Port Nick In-iquity." was responsible for the best single item of the evening, the male ballet most attractively dressed and doing some particularly effective stepping. The song. "Treasure Trove." sung in true Crosby style by Paul Taylor, was one of John Carrad's best. It was a pity that John could be seen only by peering down into the orchestral well, for hearing him is only half the fun. Let's hope he will be on the stage, at the piano, complete with cigarette and new-tunes next year.

"Olympian Nights."

The final item, "Olympian Nights." called every stage aid to its production, feminine beauty, music, colour, lighting, movement, and It was on the whole a very satisfying spectacle. The music was a good mixture of original composition with borrowings from Sullivan; the ballets were at tractive and reflected great credit on Miss Cora Duncan, who trained them; the colourful picture that the stage presented was at times reminiscent of a more economical version of the Marcus Show. The main characters: Asparagus (K. L. Meek), Vanilla (Celia Dwyer). Scipio (Hamish Hen derson), Furius (F. D. Christensen). Polainus (T. E. Allan). Stalinus (H. E. P. Downs), Josephus (Cedric Myers), the Professors and Others, all' sustained their characters very well throughout the piece. The weakest point in the show was the end of Paroxysm I when the curtain went down on an empty stage after the trite and obvious remark "They've gone!" The dialogue, commendably smart in places, dragged woefully in [unclear: other, the speakers, instead of capping] one another's lines, allowing pauses of seconds' length to come between speeches. This, and the rather prolonged and tedious, though ingenious, way of persuading the gods to so back to their pedestals, caused the show to be five or seven minutes longer than it need have been.

United we Stand.

The Extravaganza as a whole had the very great merit of being a co operative and not a one-man show. It also had the merit that every word in the speeches and songs was audible. I was not lucky enough to have a full copy of the "Cappicade" magazine with the words of the songs but I did not miss any during the singing. This is very creditable when I recall that it was traditional for Extravaganza choruses and speeches to be inaudible beyond the frist three rows of the stalls; gallery patrons, particularly in the Town Hall, had to be content with watching wordless antics. While this year's show may not sway a general election or build a new students' block, judging by the size and enthusiasm of the audience it may do something towards achiev ing both of these ends.

Ralph Hogg.