Here today, Goon tomorrow
The BBC microphones are in place, the cardy’s in the dressing room and the demented voices have had their final rehearsal. Everything is ready for the opening of The Goon Show tomorrow night.
The red light flashes and the studio goes live at 8pm when the comedy series, which took absurdity to new heights, will be reincarnated at The Speirs Centre for three nights.
Four famous episodes of The Goon Show, remembered as the benchmark for all radio comedy programmes, will be performed live on stage by experienced actors who’ll recreate the three immortal characters and their cacophony of characters.
In their heyday as the Goons, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe created such incredible characters as Neddie Seagoon, Henry Crun, and Minnie Bannister, Eccles, Bluebottle, Major Denis Bloodknock, Count Moriarty and Grytte Pipe Thyne.
These characters will be faithfully impersonated by Manawatu actors Philip Mills, Chris Heggie and Ken Benn, the latter spending two years negotiating with the BBC before receiving permission to perform four of the most hilarious programmes.
Ken has chosen The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler, The Lost Treasure of Loch Loman, The
Spanish Suitcase and The Tallest Mountain in the World because it identifies with New Zealand. The episode farcically pokes fun at a colonial Ed Hillary who out-climbed the Brits to reach the top of Everest.
Recorded sound effects from slapping hippos to a sockful of smashed custard will enhance the show and live jazz from OK Chorale and the PNBHS Stage Band will punctuate the performance.
‘‘The BBC only approved non-paid actors playing the roles for a charitable purpose,’’ Ken Benn says. ‘‘The proceeds will go towards sending the PNBHS Stage Band, recent winners of the regional stage band contest, to Australia in 2018, will assist the OK Chorale at the nationals and for a student educational tour to study the Italian renaissance period.
Ken, an actor, writer, raconteur and teacher, has had an impressive background in theatre. He’s played a diverse range of roles from the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz in Feilding, Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar in Capetown, Fagin in Oliver in Birmingham but, in The Goon
Show, he’ll best be remembered as Bluebottle for delivering the memorable line ‘‘he’s fallen in the water’’.
Ken is sure the audience will love being reunited with The Goons.
‘‘The show remains fresh and relevant because of the wordplay which conjures up mental images of the absurdly sublime,’’ he says. ‘‘And they’ll have a chance to singalong in two famous songs, I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas and the Ying Tong Song.’’
The Goon Show is being presented from June 29 to July 1 at the Speirs Centre. Tickets ($20) are available from the school office (06-354-5176) or Eventfinda for online bookings.
Our Goons, from left, KenBenn, Philip Mills and Chris Heggie.