So much more than a mere pa­per tiger

Daz­zling cos­tumes are his bag

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WENDYL MARTIN

HE DREAMT of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe in a pa­per cos­tume one night in his home town of Venice, Italy. The next morn­ing En­nio Marchetto woke up and be­gan to cut and as­sem­ble a pa­per dress, akin to the fa­mous white dress the ac­tress wore over a man­hole cover.

That was when he was 23. Now, at 56, Marchetto tours the world with scores of singing char­ac­ters per­formed with pa­per cos­tumes.

Marchetto whizzes through his act on the stage of the Jive Cape Town Funny Fes­ti­val, on at the Bax­ter un­til next Sun­day, as he changes cos­tumes and char­ac­ters ev­ery minute.

He goes from Miriam Makeba to Justin Bieber to Dolly Par­ton and Fred­die Mer­cury. The cos­tumes bring the char­ac­ters to life, com­plete with hair, teeth and even hand­bags.

Par­ton and Celine Dion of­fer a few gasp-wor­thy sur­prises and plenty of laughs.

Marchetto has been de­scribed as “the world’s only liv­ing car­toon” and a “comic origamist”.

He said he has to add a layer of plas­tic to the pa­per cos­tumes he de­signs with cos­tume de­signer Sos­then Hen­nekam.

“That is what is between me and the pa­per. I sweat ev­ery night and I need to pro­tect the cos­tumes, some I can use up to 200 times. My Mona Lisa cos­tume is three years old.”

His Dion cos­tume can get dirty, thanks to all the white.

An in­ter­est­ing lo­cal el­e­ment in the show is his ren­di­tion of Makeba’s Pata Pata.

“I wanted some­thing South African and I know the song and I love it... I have 70 dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters and can lip sync ev­ery­thing from Ja­panese to Por­tuguese. I adapt the show in each coun­try.”

He draws in­spi­ra­tion from videos and pic­tures of the char­ac­ter; for Makeba’s cos­tume, the hat is in­spired by one she wore on an al­bum cover.

Although Hen­nekam is a part­ner in the pro­duc­tion, Marchetto di­rects himelf.

“I do the aes­thetic work, I use the mir­ror to prac­tise new char­ac­ters; Adele is one of th­ese.”

What Capeto­ni­ans are see- ing is a snap­shot of his act which can go on for an hour. His songs are usu­ally two minute-per­for­mances, while at the Funny Fes­ti­val they are just a minute, adding the el­e­ment of speed.

“Most of the job is be­hind the cur­tain. I change my­self. All the pa­per cos­tumes are laid out flat and I slip on each one and a wig. I’ve been do­ing the show for 28 years.”

Mon­roe is the per­son­al­ity who changed his life and he is af­fec­tion­ate about her.

While he was grow­ing up, his fam­ily owned a cof­fee shop. When his fa­ther left work for the day, he would close the shop, switch on the ra­dio, and prac­tise his im­per­son­ations of Boy Ge­orge, Tina Turner and El­ton John.

Marchetto cre­ated some if his first cos­tumes for the Vene­tian Car­ni­val. “I would cre­ate cos­tumes with raw ma­te­ri­als, plas­tic, any­thing I could find. Then, I had the dream of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe dressed in pa­per.”

It looks like the pa­per cos­tumes are here to stay. “Oth­ers use fab­ric. Pa­per is more com­i­cal and I can do more things with it. I won’t leave pa­per. I also couldn’t do this show with­out vel­cro. There’s al­ways Scotch tape and sta­ples at hand.”

Tick­ets are R170 and avail­able through Com­puticket. See www. face­book. com/ CapeTownFun­nyFes­ti­val or www. i nsta gram. c om/ c apetown­fun­nyfes­ti­val for more.


Ital­ian pa­per-cos­tume cabaret artist En­nio Marchetto per­forms at this year’s Jive Cape Town Funny Fes­ti­val.

En­nio Marchetto

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