Tag: Laura Fitzpatrick

REVIEW: The Collective Presents PARADE

You don’t know this man
By Bradley Storer
New Melbourne company The Collective make their theatrical debut with the first professional production in Australia of Jason Robert Brown’s modern classic Parade, a tale of injustice, prejudice and murder in early 20th-century Atlanta.
Luigi Lucente as Leo Frank, the Jewish factory superintendent who is accused of murdering young Mary Phagan (Jemma Plunkett), turns in a performance perfect from head to toe. Lucente portrays Frank as a man whose alienation from the community has left him a lonely sensitive soul with a icy, defensive exterior – not shying away from the more strident aspects of Frank’s personality, Lucente intertwines them in such a way that they strike a delicious note of ambiguity over whether Frank is capable of committing murder. His plain-spoken appeal to the jury, ‘It’s Hard to Speak My Heart’, is heartrendingly beautiful.
Laura Fitzpatrick brings a subdued gentle air and a sweet, touching voice to Frank’s wife, Lucille. She takes a quieter, less belty approach to Lucille’s big numbers ‘You Don’t Know This Man’ and ‘Do it Alone’ than some interpreters, but this means we never lose sight of Lucille as an ordinary woman driven by an immense inner strength which blossoms over the course of the story. The delicacy and chemistry which she and Lucente bring to the couple’s penultimate love duet ‘All the Wasted Time’ is electrifying, sending shivers up the spine.
The supporting roles are filled out admirably – Cameron MacDonald has charisma to burn as reporter Britt Craig. who whips the South into a media frenzy over the controversial trial, and turns in solid work as Governor Jack Slaton. Tod Strike is a commanding presence as amoral prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, and Andrew Doyle brings an impish charm to Frankie Epps, the teenager who spearheads the mob violence which leads to the musical’s tragic conclusion. The ensemble overall are top quality, bringing fierce commitment to a variety of roles and levels of moral ambiguity.
The performance space, which has the audience split in two on either side with action playing out in the middle, is used to thrilling effect in the first act. The isolation of husband from wife in ‘Leo at Work/What Am I Waiting For’ is illustrated perfectly as they stand at the separate ends of the stage echoed later by the chillingly emotional image which closes Act One. The cleverly staged trial sequence symbolically and physically makes the audience implicit in the condemnation of Leo, as well tapping into the inherently theatrical nature of a trial itself. However, this fades in Act Two where the staging is used less imaginatively and begins to impede the effectiveness of the show instead. The split staging and somewhat confusing direction of the last scene dilutes the impact of its final revelation, reducing the poignancy of what should be the emotional sucker-punch of the musical.

These small issues aside, this is a strong debut from the emerging company with a challenging and immensely satisfying piece that should be a ‘must see’ for all Melbourne music theatre enthusiasts!

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD
Date: 17-28 Sept, 2014
Times: TuesSat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Tickets: $45, Conc $40, Groups (8+) $40
Bookings: Ph 03 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com


Welcome to the 60s…

By Maxine Montgomery

Flowerchildren traces the ups and downs of 60s group The Mamas and The Papas, and  recaptures the freedom of an era along the way. This new musical is an engaging journey through the pivotal moments and inner dynamics in the life of the group.

Writer Peter Fitzpatrick has crafted a show that captures all of the success, betrayal, passion and regret experienced by the four singers. The narration element is used well to allow each character to express their take on a particular happening, and then to fit into the scene described.

The central cast were remarkable. Each is a fabulous singer in his/her own right – combined, they created the iconic sound and tight harmonies of The Mamas and The Papas flawlessly. Casey Donovan as Mama Cass was quite the surprise of the evening. I was in no doubt that she could sing the role, but it was fabulous to see her more than hold her own in the company of three seasoned performers. Donovan’s comic timing was apparent (she had the line of the night – I will never again see a muumuu in quite the same way!) and also her ability to give gravitas and commitment to the more heartbreaking moments.

Matt Hetherington was brilliant as Papa John. He gave the role all the charisma and edge required to bring the songwriter to life. His rendition of “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers)” was, for me, a highlight of the night – his vocals gave the piece sweetness and desperation all at once.

Dan Humphris, as Papa Denny, has a beautiful voice with great range and the technique to use it to his best advantage. I particularly enjoyed the scenes he shared with Papa John – it is clear that the actors have a close camaraderie as this came through on stage. Laura Fitzpatrick as Mama Michelle was perfectly cast as the woman every man wanted. Her final monologue was moving and very affecting.

Mention must go to Jessica Featherby as Jill – she was the right mix of perky and whiny that made you love to hate her.

The set, designed by Christina Logan-Bell, is simple and uncluttered. It meant that the focus was on the actors instead of involved scene changes. Sophie Thomas leads a small, tight band which complements the singers very well.

Flowerchildren is worthy of a very successful premiere season – great music and strong performances put it in the ‘must-see’ category. The season runs till September 10th so get down to Theatre Works in St Kilda for a trip to the 60s.

Tickets available through www.theatreworks.org.au