18 Oct 2018
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Captain Festus Mcboyle's Travellin' Variety Show Newsletter Interview

02 Aug 2018 // An interview by Shade

Captain Festus McBoyle and his motley crew have been successfully infecting NZ for over 7 years. Armed with cheeky humour and side-splitting songs, this Madcap Troupe is more fun than a squirrel up ya’ jumper!

Regularly compared to Monty Python, Spike Milligan and Benny Hill, this clever Vaudeville ensemble comes complete with lovely wife Miss Lucy Drawers, Ships rat Mr Cheese, Strongman extraordinaire The Great Ebeneza and full-time cleaning lady ‘Ethel’.

Captain Festus (Rich Manic) told muzic.net.nz all about it:

Being a children’s entertainer requires a unique skillset. Tell us about you background and how you came to be where you are today.

I don’t think of myself as a Children’s entertainer… I prefer to identify with being a family entertainer. There’s a big difference. What we offer appeals equally to kids and adults.

I’ve been a musician/entertainer for over 30 years now. Been in loads of bands over the years, mainly of a rock genre….. Manic Pop Junkies, Teen Shag Superstar, Five Go Mad, Runninghouse.

All these bands were gigging on a regular basis and enjoying moderate success I guess.

Got a really good break with Runninghouse but then it all fell over………… That was a 9-year project.

At that point I thought ‘bugger it…time for a change’.

I was always interested in theatre but never brave enough to explore it. I started playing guitar a bit and then started collaborating with a chap called Peter Toomey. Songs took shape really quick, words came fast and performances swiftly followed.

It’s been a fantastic journey to be honest. The live show has grown hugely over the years. We now offer shows with up to five performers plus two firing cannons as well. We regularly fly all over NZ and parts of Australia. We perform at Big Festivals and Theatres all over the place. We even headline festivals these days. Played the Auckland Town Hall a while back with the full Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, that was great fun. Since then we’ve managed to play to crowds of over 16,000 people. It’s so very diverse the events we play.

Covered a lot of ground in 7 years. It’s been a full-time job and a bloody hard slog to be honest, but I wouldn’t change it. I’ve had seven contract guitarists and three pirate wives over that time.

Epic amounts of rehearsing and retraining, but I feel very fortunate to have had such a great bunch of people involved in this project over the years.

All of them were very talented in their own right and are now focussed on their own paths and I wish them well. I’m very grateful to be honest.

As far as my skill set goes… hmmmm… I just do what I do really. The Captain's character gives me the opportunity to play, to be cheeky, to be fearless and also the chance to have unlimited fun doing something I bloody love. This project transcends age and culture with ease.

I didn’t start playing music till I was 20. My first instrument of choice is my voice. I play average drums, lousy guitar and of late, not bad ukulele. Pretty mean on the tambourine I might add…. ha ha.

I’ve never been one to learn tunes or covers, I prefer to noodle around a bit and write me own stuff. I really love writing poems and limericks and I’m a huge fan of British comedy. All these things help shape this project. I have no real idea where the songs come from, nor do I question it, I just have faith that they will keep coming.

Do I come From a musical family?

My mum played piano as a kid and she loved to sing. She stopped fairly early though. That’s one of her biggest regrets I think. My Granddad was a drummer in his prime. Had a band called ‘Reverend Bung and the Bung Holes’.

My Great Great Aunt was a trapeze artist in the Circus. She was known as The Human Fly and was said to have travelled all over the world.

Me, I come from a long line of Romanian Gypsies, so my blood is pretty mixed and I’m a right determined mongrel to be honest…ha ha.

The Name Festus McBoyle came from a brainstorming session over two days. Lots of fun it was, not all suggestions would be printable. All the characters names are slightly cheeky, silly or just a tad innuendo based. I just can’t help it…ha ha

Yes, we ruffle the odd feather, Yes, we have the odd child slightly worried, but we make an awful lot of people very happy along the way, including ourselves…. we like to challenge people and nudge the boundaries just a tad…. It’s the ‘Rock n’ Roll’ in me.

Our shows are a blend of Vaudeville comedy, clever interactive songs and lots of cheeky stories, banter and theatrical mayhem that's guaranteed to float ya boat. Our costumes are impeccable, thanks to the wonderful skills of Larissa Lofley. She has brought so much to this troupe in so many ways and I’m very lucky to work alongside her. She also plays The Captains wife ‘Miss Lucy Drawers’. A right proper Lady she is.

Guitars are handled masterfully by none other than Gareth Price (ex-Mamaku Project and Semi Lemon Cola) a very clever man who is also an amazing painter. Very lucky to have him on board

Rehearsals are always a case of going through 40 songs firstly. Keeping them up to speed is critical. Then there’s the comedic interplay…. A huge process in itself. Fully rehearsed over and over again to appear absolutely effortless and off the cuff. A lot of work goes into this.

The goal is to head overseas with this project. It really has so much to offer and just so much scope. We’ve played most of what’s on offer here. I would really like to see a lot more of the world and just see where we can end up really. We are exploring overseas ventures now.

I signed up for this project for life and I have no plan B at all.…ha ha

The pinnacle of a career in this genre……… hmmmmm….. is there one?

I’m always striving for bigger and better I guess.

I am able to make a living from my art in this genre. It’s very satisfying in so many ways. It’s often more Rock n’ Roll than any of my band days. It’s definitely more glamorous. It’s a very freeing experience for me and has so many wonderful connections and interactions with people of all ages and cultures.

Living the dream, I am!

Highlights so far

So many special moments.

Auckland Town Hall was pretty special with The APO. A huge rush indeed. I scripted, presented and performed that show. Was a lot of work but an honour to play with the full orchestra. A real pleasure it was.

All gigs are pretty special really.

Had some great trips away over the years, Melbourne was a blast, 21 shows in a week…. phew!

Being selected as one of three Finalists for best NZ Kids Album (Tui Award) was massive.

Being selected as one of three Finalists for best NZ Kids Video was very cool too.

Most recently receiving a NZ on Air grant to produce three music videos and finish our third album was a major breakthrough as well.

Working with children can be challenging for sure. You never quite know what they will do. Some really push the boundaries…ha ha

Going through your pockets, grabbing your hat and wig, kicking, spitting, punching… you name it, it’s happened. Riffling through my suitcase of tricks, nicking me merch….. actually, it’s all very entertaining in hindsight.

The funniest thing was when Twin boys (2-year olds) each grabbed one of my legs. They refused to let go, so I carried on performing with them on my feet for about two songs before their slightly embarrassed Mum rescued me… ha ha

I’ve also been stalked by Mums…that was the scary bit!

Low points

Losing a troupe member. Always a hard thing to cope with. Always a massive task to replace and retrain. Finding a great musician who can act and do comedy as well is not an easy find. I employ contractors, so at the end of the day, this is my passion project. People of that calibre have their own paths and goals to fulfil. As much as it’s hard to say goodbye, I fully respect their decisions. All have brought something very special to this project.

Advice?

Do it and have no fear.

Ya don’t try, ya never know…. Life’s short.

The Worlds your oyster!

Up and coming Shows

Saturday, August 11th, Free Family Fun Day Mash Up
Blockhouse Bay Community Centre
12pm - 4:30pm

This event blends, Vaudeville Comedy, Circus Entertainment, Rock Bands, Face painting, a Celebrity Kids Disco plus onsite Food and Drinks. This one is proudly supported by The Whau Local Board.

Facebook Event Page

The next big one after that is headlining the Oamaru Victorian Festival in Oamaru alongside The Nukes, November 18th.

I’m always on the lookout for more work, being ‘guns for hire’ so to speak and always plotting and scheming for the next big Mash Up Event so watch this space.

We have just finished shooting our second NZ on Air funded video. We are editing that very shortly. Due out end of August as part of the new single release The Little Things.

Directed by Larissa Lofley and Amos Clarke.
Written by Larissa Lofley.
Shot by Ian Powell.
Edited by Eddie Larsen (‘swagger of thieves- Head like a Hole’ fame).

Currently finishing the third album Bubbles n’ Squeek.
Recording with Amos Clarke at sHOWpONY Studios
www.showponyrecording.co.nz

For all info, Show Reel and Social Media links please go to our website www.captainfestus.com

Our music is available for download on all major platforms and hard copies of our albums are available via the website contact form.

 

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