Tag: Adam Murphy

Review: Fun Home

By Kiana Emmett

Moments are transient, memories are at times unreliable, though once a person is gone, grappling at those moments are all you have left.

In the Melbourne Theatre Company’s vibrant production of Fun Home, cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s journey to find truth and clarity about her father’s death leaves her spiralling into her upbringing, reliving both light and shade through her Little and Medium Alison counterparts. Based on Bechdel’s graphic memoir, with book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and sweeping score by Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home made history with the first female writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score. Its appeal translates to Australian stages, with its universal themes of family, loss and identity making a heartfelt production.

The sharp, meticulously executed direction by David Bryant brings out the humour and heartbreak of the source material, and ‘Come to the Fun Home’ was a crowd favourite, with the performances of the younger cast garnering praise and applause. ‘Ring of Keys’ specifically was performed with pinpoint precision, excellently depicting an innocence and a knowledge far beyond her years.

Ursula Searle as Medium Alison was near perfection. Her portrayal was raw and vulnerable, awkward and uncomfortable and uplifting, it was exactly what life should be. She put her whole life force into the character and the result was a depth and immensity that was a joy to watch.

Alicia Clements’ set design is spectacular, and the use of the roundtable stage was especially poignant, representing the cycle of life and death, and how the two are inextricably linked.

Musical Director Carmel Dean presents vocals and a 7-piece orchestra that ebbs and flows and feels as alive and present as those on stage. It always feels as though the music is a manifestation of character wants and needs, instead of being for the sake of song- the sign of a great musical.

The standouts of the production however were parents Bruce and Helen Bechdel (played by Adam Murphy and Silvie Paladino respectively). They brought depth and complexity to their characters. Paladino’s ‘Days and Days’ was soul crushing and exquisite. Her electric presence and energy on stage spills out into the audience and touches anyone lucky enough to be in the presence of her performance. Murphy’s portrayal is a triumph, the complexity and subtlety of his performance of which treads the line between his responsibilities as a parent and his duty to be true to himself as an individual. This often manifests itself in angry outbursts taken out on those around him, which would be more truly directed to the world he lives in. He longs for the opportunity to be as open and forthright with his identity as his daughter is.

Euan Fitstrovic-Doidge’s vocal prowess is on full display with ‘Raincoat of Love’, as was his versatility, as he slid through characters effortlessly throughout the piece.  

The candid, conversational tone that Alison (Lucy Maunder) brings to the show provides relief from the larger, more complex issues taking part in non-linear vignettes. She is understated at first, before finding herself falling into her memories, which makes her shift into ‘Telephone Wire’ (where gay father and daughter long to connect over their similarities, instead of divide themselves in their differences) all the more heartbreaking and beautiful. This transformation at the end of the show, where we’ve seen Alison grow, mature and find herself, from the little girl who didn’t want to wear a dress, and sees herself in the butch delivery woman she encounters in a diner, To an overexcited college student who is exploring her sexuality with Joan (excellently portrayed by Emily Havea, who brings sultry and supportive tones), to the mature woman who leads us through the show, grappling with the death of her father is brilliantly executed and thoroughly engaging.   

Fun Home is a celebration of self-discovery, family and love, with the joy of discovery, ecstasy of love, and the crushing pain of loss. It is an invitation to view the impact of not living authentically as oneself can have on a person and their loved ones. Fun Home is a ground-breaking triumph. You must see it.

Fun Home is playing at the Art Centre Playhouse through March 5th. Tickets can be booked at: https://www.mtc.com.au/plays-and-tickets/whats-on/season-2022/fun-home/

Melbourne Premiere of ALADDIN: THE MUSICAL

A show to grant all your wishes

By Jessica Cornish

Soaring into a world of imagination, music, sequins and rich Middle Eastern textiles, the iconic Disney-cartoon-turned-Broadway-musical Aladdin has hit the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre, kickstarting Melbourne’s 2017 premiere season.

Aladdin the Musical.jpeg

Aladdin, under the clever direction and choreography of Casey Nicholaw, follows the fairy tale story of the street-wise orphan who unexpectedly finds himself master of a vivacious genie with the power to transform him into a prince and win Princess Jasmine’s heart.

The fast-paced musical closely mirrors the nostalgic cartoon in look and feel. The stage was luxuriously draped with backlit silk drops, hanging pendent lights and texturally rich Arabian rugs and patterns designed by Bob Crowley. A series of appropriately-themed new songs were composed for the stage musical that successfully complimented the original score maintaining the song’s original themes and overall feel, while the well-known favourites (composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Tim Rice, Howard Ashman and Chad Beguelin) from the original score were all present. “Arabian Nights”, “One Jump Ahead”, “Prince Ali”, “Friend Like Me” and of course “A Whole New World” all dazzle on stage, with the latter successfully incorporating the illusive magic carpet effortlessly flying through a darkened backlit stage of speckled light.

The musical was well cast with impressive leads and a vocally and visually strong ensemble. Ainsley Melham (Aladdin) fit the build and imagination as the lovable lead: he was vocally precise with a solid appealing stage presence and when coupled with his petite co-star Hiba Elchikhe (Princess Jasmine), their characters had a beautiful chemistry together, (although I sometimes wasn’t sure if Jasmine was from the Middle East or the Bronx – there were a few inconsistencies across the board with accent choices).

Hands down Michael James Scott’s larger-than-life presence as the sassy blue Genie stole the show. Shaking the audience to life with topical Australian-tailored comedic references and oozing with glitter and energy, he riveted the audience with his songs and consistently provided comic relief for the narrative, which was well counter-balanced by evil doo-er Adam Murphy (Jafar), who literally seemed to be a delicious reincarnate of the cartoon character.

The sound quality, similarly to the lighting design by Natasha Katz, was vibrant and punchy however periodically Elchikhe’s voice was lost in the mix, overpowered by her male counterparts voices and instrumentation. Similarly, there were a couple of lyrics that were lost in the Genie’s numbers: however, I’m sure these minor sound issues will be quickly ironed out by opening night.

Overall, this musical has it all and is a perfect night out for children big (yes, even the adults won’t be able to resist) and small. This pacey, high-energy musical is gloriously bursting with colour and pyrotechnics and upbeat music. It opened in Melbourne this week, so take advantage of this while you can!

Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre, 219 Exhibition Street, Melbourne 3000

When: April 20- October 22

Wednesday- Saturday evening performances 8pm

Sunday evening performance 6:30pm

Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 1pm

Ticket prices range from $50-$195.00

Bookings: Call Ticketek agency 132 849, visit the website Tickettek.com.au or any Tickettek agency or the Box Office in Her Majesty’s Box Office opens two hours prior to all performances for door sales and ticket collections.

REVIEW: The Production Company’s GUYS AND DOLLS

High-rolling fun

By Narelle Wood

What more can you ask for in a musical than gangsters, gambling, broads and the promise of salvation? Guys and Dolls, this year’s first of The Production Company’s annual three-show season, delivers all the cheek, humour and charm that this musical needs and a whole lot more.

The premise of the story is that Nathan Detroit (Adam Murphy) needs find a place and some funds in order to hold his ‘oldest established, permanent floating crap game’. Opportunist Detroit takes advantage of Sky Masterson’s (Martin Crewes) gambling nature and bets Masterson that he cannot persuade Sarah Brown (Verity Hunt-Ballard), the sergeant of the Save-A-Soul Mission, to go with him to Havana, Cuba.

Chelsea Plumley and Adam Murphy in Guys and Dolls

While Masterson’s in pursuit of Sarah, Sarah’s in pursuit of souls to save her mission, and Detroit is trying to save himself from getting married to his long-term fiancée, Miss Adelaide (Chelsea Plumley).

The casting is superb. I did find it initially difficult to see Hunt-Ballard as Sarah Brown rather than Mary Poppins, mainly due to both characters having similar attributes of refinement. However once Sarah and Masterson meet, the Poppins-ness completely dissolves. The character of Miss Adelaide has some of the best material of the show, including iconic songs such as “A Bushel and A Peck”, “Adelaide’s Lament”, and “Marry the Man Today”. It is Plumley’s ability to pull off the unique intonation of the Miss Adelaide character in both dialogue and song, along with the embodiment of a desperate doll in love, which makes Plumley’s performance a show-stealer.

Supporting the main cast is an equally strong chorus and production team, including stunning costume design by Tim Chappel and musical direction by Guy Simpson. The dancing throughout the instrumental version of “Luck Be Our Lady”, provided by the male members of the chorus, is exceptional, as is the performance of “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” which also showcases how effectively director Gale Edwards and choreographer Nathan M. Wright utilise the space.

The Production Company‘s shows are always a treat, and this production of Guys and Dolls is simply delicious.

Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne
Season: 23rd to 26th July 7.30pm, 23rd July 1pm, 26th July 2pm, and 27th July 3pm.
Tickets: Full $48-$119 | Conc $24-$105
Bookings: http://artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on