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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Special Extravaganza Programme Issue [1953]

Modern Era

Modern Era

By 1914 the persistent Port One has been interred forever and Extravaganza seems to be an established word for capping shows.

* * *

At the end of Work! War I a full length show is presented in the Town Hall, "Dor Tag" or "The Path of Progress." with a caste including Harold Miller and A. J. Mazengarb.

Now we come to the modern era; 1920 marked the first show held in the Opera House, with all the present accessories, orchestra, props, stage manager, business manager and the rest.

The Thirties—"G.G." in 1929, "William the Conk" in 1930. Of the early examples of the "modem" type of script. Redmond Phillips deserves mention. He wrote some excellent shows such as "Coax and Hoax" (1932). "Murder in the Common Room" (1934) and probably his best "Medea and Soda" (1932). The latter contained the song "Karitane Blues." which is still sometimes heard in Extrav dressing rooms after the show.

The late nineteen-thirties produced another set of brilliant and "prolific script writers—the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and Ron Meek. Of the Pilars efforts the best were probably "Hell's Bells" (1936). "The Book of Bob" (1937) and "Adam in Wonderland" (1939), starring "the Voice," Mr. W. S. Austin (not L.D.).

Next come John Carrad's delightful variety shows with their inconsequential nonsense and catchy songs, "Daze Bay Nights," "Port Nick Iniquity" and "The Dinkum Oil."

Then in 1936 begins the great Ron Meek series: "Brave New Zealand" (1936). 'The Plutocrats" (1937), Olympia Nights" (1938). "Centennial Scandals" (1940), in 1944 the dead awakes and Extrav is reborn with "Zealous Zombies." followed by "Peter in Blunderland" (1945) which spent two nights at Palmerston North. This period was also marked by the appearance of John McCready and W. J. Mountjoy Jr. as producers and our present stage manager. Huddy Williamson who has either assisted or stage managed since 1936.

The "Corny Combines" took over in 1946 with "Peter Pansy." in which Jeff Stewart, the present producer, took a part. He also provided words and music for 1947's "Utopanella," a story of some bods who wanted to build a Utopia on the wrecked Wanganella. Jeff's first production was "Vot-Thu Halla." which he also wrote in 1948 with Jean Melling.

Jubilee year was 1949 with "Jubileevit" as the Extravaganza. This featured Walter Snatch and Sid Holley-lu-la brilliantly brought to life by scripwriter T. Cecil Rauparaha and produced by Dave Cohen. The theme, as usual, was very close to the events of the community. The year 1950 brought a show from Paul Cotton. Frank Curtin, Richard Rainey (alas, now married). Bill Sheat and Jeff Stewart—"Hollandaze." Messrs Curtin. Sheat and Stewart are still with us and have ably held up the show in the Atlasian sense, of course. "Siderella" was the show for 1951, produced by Dave Cohen and scripped by Con Bollinger and others.

Last year, 1952, there was no Extravaganza. What was an event of capping week was sacrificed because the Opera House was not available.

So here we are up to 1953. The curtain is about to go up. The stage is set—the producer lilting in the gallery, the audience goggling in the pit and stage manager Huddy Williamson Jiving in the wings. Let the curtain rise on "Marsqueraid." Extravaganza 1953.

(Greateful thanks must go to Haddy Williamson for his valuable help in the writing of this article.)