Tag: Bianca Bruce

The Music of the Night – The songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Pure perfection – you won’t get better on Broadway!

By Sebastian Purcell

This is the ultimate musical and Andrew Lloyd Webber fans dream show. More than 90 minutes of pure joy from the most talented cast to perform at Chapel off Chapel – and I’m not exaggerating, this should be playing in Hamer Hall.

With songs from Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle down the Wind and others, this wonderfully staged show gives respect to each song and performance through its own simple but effective lighting in the fittingly intimate Chapel; the brilliant starry night backdrop (Harrie Hogan), choreography (Celina Yuen) and staging (Director Theresa Borg), creating scenes all unto themselves.

The cast – Bianca Bruce, Andy Conaghan, Madison Green, Genevieve Kingsford, Cherine Peck, Christopher Scalzo, Caitlin Spears, Tod Strike and Raphael Wong – are sublime in their delivery, their vocals are warm, big and pitch perfect. Special guest Debra Bryne is an absolute delight and brings a raw authenticity to her performances which left the cast and audience visibly emotional. There’s something so real and heartfelt when Bryne performs the song Memory that it feels like a big love letter from her time originating the role of Grizabella in Cats in 1985.

Its so hard to pick favourites, but I will because there are moments that stood out that made my night, including Wong’s opening number of The Music of the Night, sung as well as I’ve heard Simon Gleeson sing. His tone is just so smooth and the vocal control is insane. The cello accompaniment was the perfect choice to let his vocals shine.

Another standout was Evita by Bianca Bruce, and even though I saw Evita in Melbourne, I thought Bruce knocked it out of the park; the strength, the precision and a real emotional essence, not to mention the wonderful harmony from the cast humming along was stunning.

A new favourite for me from the evening is now Too Much in Love to Care, Sunset Boulevard (Conaghan & Spears). The harmonies are gorgeous and made me feel a real connection between them.

And I just cant go past Macavity, Cats by Bruce & Scalzo. It was playful, a joy to watch, and some serious vocals to match.

Across the cast you could feel a sense of connection and respect for one another, and how it lifted each other up; you could see how special it was to have Byrne on stage with them. I’m clearing my calendar for a second viewing!

I could go on about every song, they were all amazing, and wonderfully accompanied by Music Director Stephen Gray and the band, Gary Norman, Nathan Post and John Clarke.

You’d be crazy to miss this very short season of just 6 shows at Chapel off Chapel from 12 May to 16 May

Tickets available at www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Photography by Ben Fon

REVIEW: The Musical of Musicals: The Musical

Hilarious for everyone, but a special theatre treat for the real fans…

By Meg Richardson

This is one musical that lives up to its name, for this satirical parody has been crafted to satisfy even the most obsessive musical theatre fans. As part of MICF this year, The Musical of Musicals: The Musical takes one simple plot line and tells it 5 times over in completely different styles, so while never repetitive, it is entirely hilarious.

The plot follows a young woman (Emma Hoy) who can’t pay her rent, her boyfriend (Jack Brown) and her older confidant (Bianca Bruce) and their constant battles with their demanding landlord (Josiah Lulham). Audiences also enjoy a one-man ensemble/narrator (Michael Leaver). The 5 famous composers that are acknowledged are Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander & Ebb. For reasons obvious to anyone that has seen any of the works of these artists, each time the story is repeated in another of these styles, there is a totally different outcome.

MoMTM provides its fair share of laugh-out-loud, slaptstick moments that any audience would enjoy, but it is the true musical theatre fans that will really appreciate this show. Each section is full of references to the composers’ works from obvious musical cues to subtle dialogue references that only tickle the funny bones of those in the audience with the most astute theatrical knowledge. There is also a risky amount of blatant criticism of some of the trademark indulgences of the legends that almost invites a gasp of horror at the delivery.

The cast work seamlessly together as all but Lulham have worked together on the show previously. While they were all a joy to watch, Bruce’s stage presence is hard to tear your eyes from. Her comic delivery of diva Abby in Dear Abby (the Jerry Herman tribute) was enough to have viewers in stitches. The whole cast performed the show without microphones, but due to their ample talent, this was never an issue. Along with this finely-tuned cast, musical director Simon Bruckard uses only a single piano to provide fantastic support to his players and created some magical moments for the audience to enjoy.

Technically, the show could have had more support. There were times when it wasn’t clear if the follow spot was lagging behind as a gag or if the operator had actually fallen asleep but aside from that, it all moved quite smoothly.

Overall MoMTM was a performance worthy of the deafening applause it received that can only be created by a true musical theatre audience.

Venue: The Open Stage @ The University of Melbourne
757 Swanston Street, Parkville, VIC, 3010
Dates: 18th April – 21st April
Times: Wednesday – Friday 7.30pm, Saturday 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Tickets: Adults $22, Concession $18, Groups (5 or more) $15
Bookings: www.themusicalofmusicals.com