Dead Tragic: Ele­gies and laments

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

The songs in Circa’s lat­est show will ei­ther evoke an emo­tional re­sponse or laugh­ter.

Ac­tor Emma Ki­nane said songs needed two at­tributes to make Dead Tragic’s playlist: ‘‘ Some­one had to die and it had to be a pop song.’’

The fifth in­car­na­tion of Dead Tragic – Songs to Die For opens at Circa The­atre on Satur­day, a col­lec­tion of pop bal­lads with a com­mon theme – death.

There’s ev­ery­thing from Ode to Bil­lie Joe to Leader of the Pack.

Pick­ing up the songs peo­ple may have heard at fu­ner­als could have caused offence, but the show never mocks.

‘‘ We sing them beau­ti­fully,’’ Ki­nane said.

‘‘We put to­tal re­spect to the mu­sic, so it sounds like the record­ings.’’

Be­fore Dead Tragic, creator Michael Ni­cholas Wil­liams and Ki­nane were in­volved in a play that failed and closed within a few days. Re­al­is­ing he had a cast of able singers with noth­ing bet­ter to do, Wil­liams went back to an ear­lier idea – songs about death – and de­vised the show for them.

‘‘Peo­ple don’t lis­ten to lyrics,’’ Wil­liams said.

When he started re­search­ing the songs he found his un­der­stand­ing of the lyrics was as bad as any­one’s, and set out to bring out the mean­ings to life.

Ki­nane said the show was like per­form­ing videos for songs that pre­date MTV and mu­sic videos.

‘‘It’s all very well to hear Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town – Kenny Rogers is a ro­bust sort of guy – but the real­ity is it’s a song by a guy in a wheel­chair,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s al­most like there is a big dis­con­nect be­tween what you’re see­ing and what you’re hear­ing.’’

At the time of the first pro- duc­tion, in 1991, the cast were not long out of drama school, yet were singing the pop­u­lar songs of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

‘‘It was very clearly not our mu­sic,’’ Wil­liams said.

‘‘We were these squeaky young peo­ple singing mu­sic that was ob­vi­ously not of our time.’’

For the first pro­duc­tion, at Cen­tre­point in Palmer­ston North, the cast were in se­ri­ous, fu­ne­real black.

When they re­turned for the fourth pro­duc­tion in 2010, it was a ‘‘whizz-bangy’’ pro­duc­tion, Ki­nane said. The cast all played dead cabaret singers.

The lat­est show fea­tures Ki­nane, Wil­liams, Jon Ph­eloung, Lyn­dee- Jane Ruther­ford and Dar­ren Young.

Dead Tragic,

Photo: JIM CHIPP

Re­spect: Dar­ren Young, left, Emma Ki­nane and Michael Ni­cholas Wil­liams will ap­pear in Dead Tragic. Nippy, the HMV dog, looks on.

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