Fringe Festival stars in cash crisis

WET HOT BEAUTIES: The 1930s-styled ballerinas will return in Swan Song.
WET HOT BEAUTIES: The 1930s-styled ballerinas will return in Swan Song.

The stars of the 2011 Auckland Fringe Festival have turned to their fans to help keep next year’s production afloat.

The Wet Hot Beauties unique display of water ballet won them the People’s Choice Award at the 2011 festival, but the accolade means next year’s production has to be bigger than ever. And bigger means more expensive.

The 1930s-styled ballerinas will return in Swan Song, described as a “fantastical Swan Lake/Baz Luhrmann-inspired water ballet mash up” with a bit of a twist.

Set to feature a cast of 80 women and 10 men, plus a backstage crew of about 20, co-producer Pip Hall said the company was dedicated to putting on a good show.

“We want the show to be bigger and better than last year – bigger costumes, bigger production design, we now have a relationship with a make-up school, all to take the show that next level up.

“So that obviously has more costs. And just because of the economy, everything costs about a third more than it did and we are getting a third less in sponsorship, so the gap there is bigger than last year.”

The company are using crowd-funding website Pledge Me to find the extra $7,500 needed to make a winning show.

Fans can donate anything from $10 and earn rewards in return. A donation of $50 gets a retro swimming cap, while the dancers will organise you a special Valentine’s Day marriage proposal during the show for $2,500.

Donations will be used to fund make-up, costumes, props and lighting to showcase the performance and the Parnell Baths, where the show will take place in February.

“We want the show to be equally spectacular [as last year’s]. The great thing is people didn’t know what it was last time, and probably had really low expectations. But now we’ve done one and people saw it and said ‘wow that’s really crazy and cool’, so that makes us want to step up and do something different,” Hall said.

The Wet Hot Beauties are now into their fifth season, with an alumni list of more than 250 people.

Hall says since their award-winning appearance at the last Fringe Festival they have had an increase in the number of people wanting to be involved.

“I would describe them as adventurous people. The majority of people in the group are not formal performers; they want to try something new, to have some ‘me’ time, and to express themselves creatively. It’s kind of like a really awesome version of book club.”

Auckland Now