Tag: Chad Beguelin

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.

Playback Productions Presents THE WEDDING SINGER

Joyous nostalgia and amazing mullets beckon

By Jessica Cornish

Growing up idolising Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the 1998 motion picture that inspired this musical, I was a little sceptical as to how it would translate onto the stage, but from the moment the lights went up I was hooked. Playback’s production of The Wedding Singer was vibrant, energetic, hilarious and oozed with the colourful spirit of the 80s.

the-wedding-singer

Composed by Matthew Sklar, with lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, The Wedding Singer’s music is what you’d expect, a contemporary/pop musical laced with incredibly catchy melodies – and don’t worry, Adam Sandler’s infamous songs from the motion picture are both there! And if you like gory 80s’ chiffon dresses, plastic crucifixes and curls, this musical has you covered. Stand-out musical items of the night were “It’s Your Wedding Day” and “Casualty of Love” which had electric music and really fun, high-energy movement using a diverse ensemble.

The main cast were all terrific in achieving the difficult task of recreating well-known characters from the screen while bringing their own twist to it. Lead sweethearts, played by Leighton Irwin (Robbie Heart) and Katlin O’Keene (Julia Sullivan) were well cast.  Irwin brought a constant high level of energy to his performance whilst belting out pitch perfect notes, and Sullivan had beautiful warmth to her voice and a gentle stage presence that contrast well to her 80s counterparts. The supporting roles were equally excellent and special mention needs to be made of the musical and comedic skills of Dion Kaliviotis (Sammy), Rosie Alexander (Linda), and my personal favourite, the sassy and flamboyant Danny Nercessian (George).

With such a strong performance this means an equally strong production team. Monica Cioccia needs to be commended for her excellent role as director, similarly musical director Allan Hessey for ensuring a night of strong vocal performances supported by impressive live musicians. And of course what good is an 80s’ musical without some dancing? Grace Madderm was the hard-working production choreographer and also played the promiscuous and bubbly Holly.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of sound issues through the entire opening night, which was frustrating for audience and cast alike, no doubt. It was a shame as some key vocal lines were lost to white noise, or were overpowered by the band when microphones would completely cut out. There were a few missed lighting cues and performers not finding their light, however I am confident as the performers and tech crew continue the run, these initial issues will soon iron themselves out.

This is such an incredibly fun and entertaining musical at a intimate venue hidden away on Acland St, St Kilda. Defiantly worth squeezing into your busy schedule!

Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda

Date: 14 Oct 2016 – 23 Oct 2016
Time: Thu to Sat 7.30pm & Sat/Sun 1pm
Price: $38 full / $36 conc / $34 group 10+ [plus booking fee]

Bookings: Please call 03 9534 3388