5 Good Reasons to See The Mighty Little Puppet Show

1. We’re back!

We were actually quiet surprised when our little show had quiet a successful world premiere at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. We had wonderful reviews, great feedback and really supportive audiences. So it seemed only natural to bring the show back for Melbourne Fringe…and at The Butterfly Club, one of Melbourne’s best fringe theatre and cabaret venues.

2. It has puppets!

If you missed us at MICF The Mighty Little Puppet Show has puppets in it…but these puppets are like nothing you’ve seen before.

What’s unique about our puppets is that they are custom-built, by the extremely talented people at The Puppet Workshop.

Our puppets (called The Ritas) are brightly coloured and blank-faced, we’ve also had large selection of eyes & noses build that can be attached and removed to The Ritas whenever we want.

Meaning we can create new and interesting puppet characters for every performance.

3. It is an improvised show!

Yup…every show will be improvised so no two shows will be the same. The Ritas were specifically created because The Mighty Little Puppet Show is completely improvised.

We wanted our puppets have the potential to be just as spontaneous as the scenes they will be in.

4. We have a NEW stellar line-up of Special Guest Stars!

We were fortunate to have some of Melbourne’s most respected, popular & experienced performers guest star with the Ritas for our Comedy Festival season.
This Fringe is no different, we have assembled a stellar line-up of stars from the Melbourne Comedy scene, who are ready to raise hell with our puppet crew.

Our guests include:

-Lliam Amor, Elly Squire, Ross Daniels, Damian Callinan, Dilruk Jayasinha and Lauren Bok.

5. We have NEW members to our amazing troupe of impro-puppeteers!

We are very excited to welcome three new cast members to this Fringe season.
We have:
-Hallie Goodman (an puppeteer & improviser from New York how has worked with The Improv Conspiracy).
-Amanda Knights (A regular performer with Impro Melbourne & First Draft Theatre).
-Danny Alder (An actor/improviser who was seen in Eastenders & was a regular performer with impro/comedy troupe The Crew).
They will be joining our senior Mighty Little troupe members who will be returning for Fringe duties: Scott McAteer, Caitlin Yolland, Petra Elliott & Rob Lloyd.

The Mighty Little Puppet Show is at The Butterfly Club from Monday Sept 19 to 25 – 10pm. No show Friday.

Tickets can be purchased at: https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-mighty-littles

For more info: https://melbournefringe.com.au/program?event/the-mighty-little-puppet-show/9f769e57-2b1a-4c3c-963a-f039b1dfeba8

Squirrel Comedy’s Recommended and Previously Reviewed Shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015

By Lisa Clark

Well the Squirrels are getting ruffled up and ready for autumn nut collecting. And comedy reviewing. There are soooo many shows on offer at the 2015 Melbourne International comedy Festival and it can be very difficult for us to see everything we want to see, let alone review everything we want to review. For those readers who are planning their Festival schedules and are in need of help, we have some good news: Squirrel Comedy has previously reviewed thirty of this year’s shows and we have laid out links to all those reviews below.

 

First Up here are some brilliant shows I previously saw & loved but Squirrel Comedy hasn’t reviewed.

I recommend you see:Claire Hooper School Camp

Claire Hooper’s School Camp

Claire takes us back to school days in a raw & truthful way where nostalgia takes some surprising and dark turns that make this show very special.

 

Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out.

Celia’s show about fortune telling and her international lifestyle was another of Celia’s crowd-pleasing corkers.
Celia Pac Let me Know

Barry Nominated last year as word got around it was selling out like hotcakes, so if you weren’t lucky enough to see this gorgeous show better book now.

 

Denise Scott – Mother Bare

Denise deservedly won the Barry Award last year for her droll and often riotous reflections on motherhood and other aspects of her comedic life.Denise Scott Mother Bare pic

She’s only doing four shows this year at the fan friendly time of 4.30 Sundays, so get your tickets early.

 

 

And now for shows that we have previously reviewed.

Particular highlights this year that I can also recommend include:

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Watson Watson Afraid of the Dark

Watson’s funny and occasionally genuinely scary show is not for those with a nervous disposition or heart condition but my goodness it is a monstrous load of fun. It can only fit smallish audiences into the space at the Old Melbourne Gaol so book early, I hear the first week is booking out fast. Not surprising as this show won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and considering it is site specific it is one you will have to come to Melbourne to see.

 

Bart Freebairn Ultra Power LordBart Freebairn pic

Bart is a comedian at the top of his game just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream. I get the joyful shivers when I see a stand up comedian reach a point where they can host a room and own it keeping everyone rolling with laughter non stop. Bart is there and I hope everyone loves Ultra Power Lord as much as I did at Fringe last year.

 

Bucket’s List by Sarah Collins starring Justin Kennedybuckets list

Buckets List is a whimsical, beautiful and of course very funny tale with a star turn by the amazing Justin Kennedy (who we just don’t see enough of on the circuit any more – I miss him, but if this is the sort of work he’s producing then I’ll forgive his absence). Justin is blessed with the ability to make an audience laugh without saying a word and when I see independent theatre this good I think our major theatre companies should have a good hard look at themselves.

 

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy CallinanPaddy Callinan

A perfect show for this anniversary of ANZAC it’s another comedy character tour de force by Damian where truth and tall tales blur with loads of laughs and a streak of darkness. The true spirit of the ANZAC is thoroughly celebrated.

 

We can’t wait to discover new exciting comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival  but meanwhile

Here’s the full list with links of those we reviewed earlier:

The 13–Storey Treehouse

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6692

Anthony Jeannot is Unaccept-a-bubble

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7985

Bart Freebairn: Ultra Power Lord

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7643

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7956

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6010

Dr Brown – Befrdfgth

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1244

Dylan Cole – The Moon in Me

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7760

Fancy Boy Variety Show

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6647

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1633

Geraldine Hickey – Listen Out For The Castanets

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7669

I Love Green Guide Letters Live

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5892

Justin Kennedy – Bucket’s List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7723

Late Night Letters and Numbers

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846

Lee Naimo – Finding Lee

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7970

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5880

The Little Dum Dum Club Live

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5938

Luke McGregor – I Worry That I Worry Too Much

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6045

Mark Butler – Grammar don’t matter on a first date

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7885

Political Asylum – Late Night Riot

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785

Sam Rankin – Wake Up, Sheeple! (2.0)

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7639

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7952

The Sound of Nazis

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7712

The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6870

Stuart Daulman is an Absolute Credit

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7706

Stew Walker – A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7920

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7915

Set List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6695

Watson – Who’s Afraid of the Dark

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7786

World Record Show with Andy Matthews, Adam Knox and Dave Warneke

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5973

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6963

 

Loman Empire: The Sitcom – An unauthorised satire of Death of a Salesman

By Lisa Clark

Who can resist such a delicious idea of a comic sitcom version of the Great American Tragedy Death of a Salesman with such a fabulous cast? Danny McGinlay has done the inspired re-imagining of Arthur Miller’s play and manages to satirise the great American sitcom at the same time.

The audience is part of this production, playing the part of a live studio audience at the recording of a sitcom called The Loman Empire. The cast are being made up as the audience enters.  The warm-up guy (Lachlan Millsom) sets the mood well, introducing us to the stars of the show and prompting us throughout. An applause sign flashes as characters enter and at end of scenes and the tech guy at side of stage also helps remind us that we are in a studio. The pre-recored filmed segments work beautifully including cute cliched opening and closing credits and some very silly ads, most of which are hilarious. There was a great moment where the actors improvised around a prop that played up which made a very funny potential ‘blooper reel’ moment.

The performers are all brilliantly cast and throw themselves into their two-part roles which include the actors behind the scenes as well as the on camera characters. Russell Fletcher as the has been star and patriarch Willy Loman is amusingly overbearing and annoying (in both characters) with a catchphrase and a relationship with his downtrodden wife Linda, played with a twinkle by Lana Schwarcz, that is reminiscent of The Honeymooners. Off camera Lana’s obnoxious animal rights actress character create’s more drama and fireworks with him than on. Jimmy James Eaton is a surprise standout as favourite son Biff (and manages to squeeze in one of his trademark funny raps) and Danny McGinlay has fun playing his little brother Happy as well as the actor who, thanks to Danny’s previous festival show is a drunken Ukranian. We get to see Director Damian Callinan on stage playing the wacky neighbour Charley and Denis Manahan does a fabulous job playing various important characters. Other actors who pop in for short cameos are Lucy Horan, Katharine Burke and Chris Masters Mah. There are some rough edges in the timing of dialogue but these will be improved as the run progresses.

Like Willy Loman’s hazy memories there is a very vague sense of the period this is set in, which actually works well, it mostly feels like 1949, then a modern reference turns up or a modern product placement, like an anachronism you might notice in MASH or Happy Days, shows that seemed to gradually forget which period they were set in. There are many clever digs at sitcoms, their clichés and wacky situations that are part of giving the audience a sense of the history of this long running successful sitcom at the same time echoing Willy Loman being haunted by his past.

My only issue with the production (apart from the line ‘A man is not a piece of fruit’ being absent which is a bit like doing Hamlet without ‘To Be or Not To Be’) was that the backstage shenanigans, though fun, didn’t really affect the TV performance and lacked focus and the comedic tension that would have come out of a situation such as the cast finding out the show is axed or one of the cast is leaving or this being the final episode which would have reflected the sense of doom and hidden secrets exposed in the play.

Death of a Salesman is about dysfunctional families, false fronts and the rot at the core of The American Dream so it fits a sitcom scenario perfectly. You may not know the play but you will get a sense of it from the play’s dialogue and a lot of laughs that come from clever zingers, groaners and sending up sitcoms. The Loman Empire – The Sitcom – An unauthorised satire of Death of a Salesman (note this is a recent name change) is the sort of creative, intelligently put together performance that makes Melbourne Fringe so wonderful and will no doubt be one of the highlights of 2014.

Loman Empire: The Sitcom An unauthorised satire of Death of a Salesman is on at the Northcote Town Hall at 8:15pm until September 28.

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/loman-empire-the-sitcom-an-unauthorised-satire-of-death-of-a-salesman/

Damian Callinan : The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

By Colin Flaherty

You can always count on Damian Callinan to deliver a brilliant theatrical performance. In The Lost WW1 Diaries of Private Paddy Callinan we saw a humorous account of World War 1 that treated its subject with respect while keeping the laughs coming.

Beginning with an awesome scene of irreverential gallows humour, Damian stepped out of character for a segment of stand-up to give some background. Covering Damian’s obsession with all things military and the story of what brought him to find Paddy Calinan’s diary in a Warrnambool Op Shop, he created some wonderful mythology for the tale that followed.

Then into the diary proper with Paddy’s descriptive monologues setting the scenes to be brought to life via Damian’s acting and character work. Seen through Paddy’s naïve eyes, we met a range of eccentric characters with whom he shared the experience. These included Bluey the Scot always seeing things from his Trade Unionists’ point of view, Stanza budding poet with his raunchy prose and the scrounger who could find the most bizzare items.

This was a beautifully detailed story that managed to keep a foot in the reality of war but give plenty of offbeat humour to keep it jovial. The servicemen were portrayed as lovable scallywags who embodied the iconic Aussie attitude of laughing in extreme circumstances (The Light Horsemen really copped a serve!). We were kept on our toes with many modern references that not only added some welcome silliness but made humorous points about current issues.

It was not purely a boy’s own adventure story. Callinan (Damian through Paddy) provided some poignant moments that brought home the horrors of war. These moments describing the tragic loss of young men brought tears to the eyes of many. Some apt tragedy to balance the comedy.

As with any show from Callinan, it is brilliantly performed with wonderful vocal mimicry, fluid motion and even some dancing. His mime work was spot on and he handled exchanges between multiple characters with ease. He often cheekily broke the fourth wall to poke fun at minor staging shortfalls and his own performance. Another tour de force from Damian Callinan.

The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan is on at ACMI – Cube until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/the-lost-ww1-diary-of-private-paddy-callinan-damian-callinan

Damian Callinan & Tim Overton : Out Of Print Book Club

By Caitlin Crowley

Out of Print Book Club is billed as a mix between First Tuesday Book Club and Whose Line is it Anyway? What a fantastic premise for a comedy festival show – an improvisational hour of comedy about non-existent books.

Comedian Damian Callinan and actor Tim Overton, host the evening in the beautiful Council Chambers at Melbourne Town Hall. There is a rotating list of guest artists and on the evening we attended they were writer Emilie Collyer, comedian Gordon Southern and veteran of the improv scene Lliam Amor. Our hosts direct proceedings leading their guests in a series of book discussions and dissections. With different artists each evening the performance will vary depending on the chemistry on stage and the material they have to work with. Some of the set-ups were a bit too obtuse for the cast to play with but Collyer in particular was an utter delight.

The whole experience became more fun when audience members were encouraged to participate. My favourite line for the evening came from an audience member who responded to the question of unpublished Little Miss titles with the suggestion of Little Miss Ogyny.

Overton plays the show’s theme on keyboard and moves proceedings along nicely but there’s something of a missed opportunity about the whole show. Surely with the theme, the setting and Callinan’s gift for character comedy there is room to play up the concept of discoveries of rare and antiquated books. And Overton’s acting and musical chops could be better utilised – a Whose Line is it Anyway style hoedown given a bookish twist would be great.

This is a good show with the potential to be a best seller. Perhaps a quick edit of the Out of Print Book Club will lift it to a position on the top shelf.

Out Of Print Book Club is on at Melb Town Hall – Council Chambers until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/out-of-print-book-club-damian-callinan-tim-overton