Review: HOUSEWARMING – A New Musical

Home is where the heart is

By Bradley Storer

Housewarming, a new musical composed and written by William Hannagan-McKinna and Belinda Jenkin, opens on its lead character Tommy (Daniel Benge) on the threshold of a new adventure: the perilous plunge into share-housing.

Like the similar work which precedes it on Theatreworks double-bill, Give My Regards to Broady, Housewarming deals with universal themes of growing up and the struggle to move beyond the past.

Accompanying Tommy on the journey to independence is a mismatched group of fellow post-adolescents.

There’s Mia (Rachel Rai), the sheltered mummy’s girl with borderline OCD; Kelly (Elle Richards), the spoiled and self-aggrandizing rich girl; Luke (Drew Collet), the hard-drinking uni dropout; the dreadlocked Jo (Dave Barclay) and his ethereal, reiki-toting ex-girlfriend Daisy (played by Jenkin herself).

While these outlines may seem almost stereotypical in their construction, one of the joys of the evening is watching these skilled actors fill out and develop their characters beyond generic characteristics.

As the plot proceeds, unexpected twists reveal hidden depths to each character and their relationships with their housemates delving into unforeseen territory.

The ensemble are all strong performers and singers, and each are given a moment to shine with excellently composed moments of self-revelation and remembrance – highlights are Kelly’s ensemble-supported diva number ‘I Insist’, Daisy’s delicately heart-breaking ‘I Grew My Hair So Long’ and Tommy’s explosive solo ‘I Am Bruised’.

In comparison to the wacky comic mania of Broady, Housewarming approaches the same topic with seriousness and compassion while still retaining a light-hearted touch.

Aided by a committed and talented ensemble, Housewarming is a fantastic evening at the theatre, ranging from heart-warming to wrenching to youthfully optimistic all in the same show.

Housewarming: A New Musical is in a double-billing this month with Give My Regards to Broady!

Dates: 28 Nov – Dec 10 at Theatre Works, St Kilda

Times: Nov 30 to Dec 3 at 8:45pm / Dec 5-10 at 7:00pm

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