Musical show produced at DNTV2 in Dunedin. Regular cast included Raewyn Molloy.

A triumph over assorted adversaries - copyright, snow, time, accident, heat

Originally published in the NZ TV Weekly, June 13, 1966

DNTV2’s ambitious Songs from the Shows is at last ready for airing, starting its rounds of the channels with its home station on June 15. And even though production was begun in December 1964, and not completed until April 1966, this set of seven potted musical comedies showing the development of this aspect of entertainment over the past fifty years, represents quite an achievement against a variety of odds.

The first problem, says producer Roy Melford, was coping with copyright limitations of songs and lack of dialogue.

This difficulty was overcome by the use of scripts by David Delany and Bruce Morrison, who not only set down the plot for narrator Roland Watson, but also added fascinating asides reflecting the life and times of the particular production.

Then there were the casts. These were all made up from people who, whether - professional or non- professional, were not always available.

The sets - by Jim Paton - were pretty much a one-man job, and so more time lags; and Raewyn Lamb and Lexie Arnott had their time well occupied supervising the acquisition of an unusually wide variety of costumes. But these not unexpected hitches in smooth, fast production were far from all the difficulties to beset Songs from the Shows

When DNTV2 was recording “Chu Chin Chow,” a tale of the torrid East, Dunedin’s weather took a contrary turn and supplied a snow storm, and extremely cold temperatures. This did not make for the happiest of, casts, coping with scanty costumes, goosefiesh, and body paint that had to be warmed up before it could be applied.

At the other extreme, when it came to “The Geisha’s” turn for recording, with heavy, capacious garments re- quired for a story about a somewhat colder Oriental land, studio tempera- ture rose to nearly 100 degrees!

And snow was not all that was to happen to “Chu Chin Chow.” Performer Vincente Major ricked a leg leaping into bed for one scene-but the show went on!

Eventually, the full series (leading up to the point where “Ruritanian fables ” were out, and realism super- ceded fantasy in musical comedy) was “in the can.”

The shows in the selection are:

  • “The Geisha” with Yvonne Johns and Arnold Bachop;
  • “The Arcadians ” with Raewyn Lamb and Peter Fleming.
  • "Chu Chin Chow” with Waric Slyfield and Vincente Major;
  • "Rose Marie ” with Don Rutherford;
  • “White Horse Inn” with Les Cleveland and Shirley Kelly.
  • “On Your Toes” with Don Rutherford and Judith Pate;
  • "Oklahoma” with Peter McKenzie and Carol Irwin.

Ken Smith and Ernie Wilson were the musical directors and arrangers for the series and Jenny Kjelgaard and Shona Dunlop did the choreography.

Technical producer was Nat Bradley, and his most difficult problem, according to producer Roy Melford, was me.

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