Tag: Casey Bennetto

REVIEW: Twisted Broadway 2015

“Broadway in a Brand-New Key”

By Bradley Storer

Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDS brought together a stunning ensemble of Australian music-theatre talents last night for Twisted Broadway, a gender-bending re-interpretation of musical theatre’s greatest hits, to raise money for research and developmental programs for people living with HIV/AIDS. The sense of community and giving was palpable, all the performers and creative team donating their time and energy – even the set for the show was donated by The Production Company‘s current show Nice Work if You Can Get It.

2015 Twisted Broadway Hosts_Photo by Kayzar Bhathawalla

Kate Ceberano, one of the evening’s hosts, began the show as a literal MC – the classic character from Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, spiritedly singing ‘Wilkommen’ and showing some impressive high kicks as she introduced us to the ‘twisted’ male and female ensembles and the Twisted Broadway orchestra, under the direction of James Simpson. She was followed by the glorious tenors of Blake Bowden and Josh Piterman, both bringing lead man charisma to the Jekyll and Hyde duet ‘In His Eyes’, before fellow host Eddie Perfect joined Ceberano onstage to introduce the evening officially.

The first half of the show was dedicated mainly to ensemble numbers, highlights including a cheeky ‘Gee Officer Krupke’ by the female ensemble of West Side Story, a campy male version of ‘Make Him Mine’ by Ed Grey, Alex Given and Drew Weston, a bevy of showgirls accompanying Melissa Langton as she charmingly crooned ‘All I Care About is Love’, a trio of male Lion King ensemblists bringing Motown realness in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ all the way to Nathan Pinnell leading the ensemble of Anything Goes in a joyous ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’. A few choice solo performances were dotted throughout, Akina Edmonds‘ soulful take on the Schwartz classic ‘Lost in the Wilderness’ standing out in particular.

After a fantastic ensemble opening of ‘On Broadway’ choreographed by Michael Ralph, the second act brought spectacular solos from a variety of performers. Rob Mills hilariously sent himself up in a re-vamped version of the audition sequence ‘Climbing Uphill’ from The Last Five Years, Tom Sharah stole the show with his ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’, and Queenie van de Zandt brought the audience to their feet in a roof-raising ‘What Kind of a Fool Am I?’. Perfect debuted a charming song from his unseen musical version of the classic Australian film Muriel’s Wedding with help from Casey Bennetto, and the male ensemble delivered a testosterone-charged ‘Be Italian’ led by Mike Snell before Josie Lane closed the evening with a thunderous ‘Goodbye’.

Producers Michael Benge and Kate MacDonald informed the audience at the end of the show that over $50,000 had been raised for Oz Show Business Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, making a perfect end to this marvellous night of music theatre all done in the name of a good cause.

Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda, Melbourne.
Date: 17th August, 2015
Time: 8pm


Image by Kayzar Bhathawalla

Review: GERALDINE QUINN is The Last Gig in Melbourne

This is why Melbourne loves live music!

By Emma Muiznieks

In response to the floundering live music scene, Geraldine Quinn has invited you to the very last live gig Melbourne is ever going to host, and boy does she deliver.

For one hour, Quinn rocks out a set list of original songs, with the help of her band; musical director Casey Bennetto on keys and guitar, Tamara Murphy thundering on the bass, Sonja Horbelt on drums, and Martin Lubran rocking out like a legend on lead guitar. Last Gig pokes fun at the tropes of home-grown rock, but is at the same time a fine example of the very best sort of gig: it is well-structured, the music is tight, and Quinn owns the stage like a pro.

Covering a range of subject matter and musical subgenres, from a punk rock song about scrag fights to a poignant ballad lamenting the predominance of mobile phone usage during shows, Quinn takes us through the live music scene from when she herself first started bopping along as a teenager, to the current lackadaisical attitude of the modern concertgoer. As a songwriter, she has created music that is clearly original but has such an element of familiarity that you might swear you’ve heard the songs before on Rage or MTV. She presents us with a view from both sides of the microphone, and rather skillfully reminds us of how fun live gigs are while at the same time highlighting our responsibility to support the industry: there will always be new talent, but without an audience, it will go unheard.

Although each band-member is given the chance to shine, the show is very much a showcase for Quinn’s powerhouse vocals, clever lyrics and her complete and utter rock & roll spirit. There are few comedians on the scene today who possess such a strong stage presence; add to this a voice that can be so forceful one moment and so softly intense the next, and you have a performer capable of underpinning a comedy song with a real emotional resonance.

There are few people with enough cred, talent and moxy to claim the right to the last gig in Melbourne, but Quinn has definitely earned the honour.


The Last Gig in Melbourne

Dates: Friday 4, 11, 18, & 25 Nov

Time: 8.00pm (approx 1 hr duration)

Venue: Bella Union Bar, Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton

Tickets: $25/$16 at door, discounts for pre-booking

Bookings: 03 9650 5699 or www.bellaunion.com.au


Review: WORLD WAR WONDERFUL by Karin Muiznieks

Let the battle begin!

By Brad Storer

World War Wonderful! stands as a dark parable about blind patriotism and the cycle of violence surrounding warfare. Luckily for the audience, the near-Brechtian bleakness of its vision comes clothed in hilariously quotable dialogue and insanely hummable tunes.

Greeted upon entry with the projected image of the American flag and accompanied by manic ragtime music, audience members are cast as soldiers watching a USO entertainment show.

Tonight’s performers are the Wonderful Sisters, a trio of energetic, harmony-singing siblings in the style of the Andrews Sisters (their bitter rivals). It is World War Six, Winston Churchill is President of the United States (played on video here by Casey Bennetto) and after many years of profitable war-mongering, the frightening prospect of peacetime is approaching.

The setting gives writer/composer Karin Muiznieks many opportunities to create pastiches of 1940’s musical styles, such as patriotic anthems, novelty songs, dark tangos and syrupy torch songs – all served up with deliciously twisted lyrics and pointed political satire.

Subjects include the advantages of a decorated military love-partner with (several) amputated limbs, sexual ‘warfare’, and a ‘Mr Sandman’ take-off describing the perfect political leader while making jibes at the modern American political landscape. Even those unfamiliar with this period of music will find themselves laughing at the wit and audacity of these seemingly peppy songs.

The three leads, as directed here by Scott Gooding, are all impressive in their individual roles: Louise McCrae as Fanny, the innocent youngest sibling, Laura McCulloch as the cunning middle sister Ruth, and Penelope Bruce as the morally ambivalent eldest sister Gloria. Their interactions and family feuding are perfectly played out as they seek to maintain their wealth and power in a world on the verge of peace.

By the time we reach the end of the show, the sinister conclusion seems both comically logical and chillingly unavoidable. Despite some minor technical problems on opening night, which were competently covered over by the performers, the gruesome message of World War Wonderful! was perfectly executed by all involved.

The Lamond Room, South Melbourne Town Hall

Friday 22/Saturday 23 July, 9.30pm

Tickets: www.melbournecabaret.com, ph. 1300 640 801 or at the festival box office (South Melbourne Town Hall)