Tag: Lucy Durack

Review: Shrek

A warm and lovely treat

By Bradley Storer

Based on the beloved film with a score by modern Broadway legend Jeanine Tesori, Shrek opened last night at Her Majesty’s Theatre to rousing response and standing ovation. Despite some minor technical issues and a slightly overpowering sound balance from the band pit, it is easy to see why this production has been charming audiences around Australia.

As the titular character, Ben Mingay offers a refreshingly truthful performance that helps to ground the cartoonish surroundings in emotional reality. Tapping into the loneliness and awkwardness that lies beneath the character’s abrasiveness, Mingay showcases a beautiful vulnerability alongside his gargantuan voice and stage presence. Nat Jobe has a harder time as Donkey, dealing with a role whose humour doesn’t translate as well from screen to stage but manages with good-natured cheek and bombastic energy.

In contrast to her earlier work as high energy fairytale ‘princess’-esque characters, Lucy Durack plays the stereotype-shattering Princess Fiona in a slightly more laid back and chilled manner than one would expect. This characterization can leave one wanting more in certain moments but pays off handsomely in her comic and romantic chemistry with Mingay, and she still sells her big Act Two opening – ‘Morning Person’ – with charm and cheer.

Todd McKenney as the walking visual gag Lord Farquaad steals every scene he is in, proving the very definition of a ‘star’ by milking what is essentially a one joke character to maximum effect. The ensemble are an absolute joy, shifting through various roles throughout but truly providing the heart and soul of the show as a ragtag bunch of displaced fairytale characters – watching them let loose during the ridiculous and empowering ‘Freak Flag’ is quite possibly the best moment of the entire performance. (Special mention to Denise Devlin, stepping in for Marcia Hines on opening night in the role of the Dragon, and unleashing some truly astonishing vocals during the finale)

A warm and lovely treat for children and parents alike, it would be hard to leave this show without a smile on your face!

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, 219 Exhibition St, Melbourne

Dates: February 19th – April 12th

Times: 7:30pm Wednesday/Friday/Saturday, 6pm Sunday, 1pm Wednesday/Thursday/Sunday, 2pm Saturday

Bookings: ticketek.com.au

Photography by Brian Geach

REVIEW: Melbourne’s Opening Night of WICKED

Return to Oz…

By Bradley Storer

The atmosphere was electrifying at the opening night of Wicked, returning to Melbourne for the first time since the original Australian production in 2008. As the lights dimmed and the first strains of music began, the audience erupted in enthusiastic applause for the musical which, for better or worse, has defined contemporary music theatre for the past decade.

Elphaba (Jemma Rix) and Glinda (Lucy Durack) in WICKED

Jemma Rix reviving her role as Elphaba is brilliant, marking Elphaba’s journey from a down-trodden outsider to a self-determined revolutionary but never letting us forget the wounded loner that lurks beneath the exterior. Her voice is extraordinary, a technical marvel which she employs to maximum effect throughout but whose full power she only unleashes, to spine-tingling results, in her Act One showstopper ‘Defying Gravity’.

Lucy Durack returning as Glinda the Good Witch, Elphaba’s truest and eventually only friend, was a little unsteady vocally at the beginning of the evening but found plenty of times to show off her bright sunny soprano. While Durack nails the bubbly, air-headed side of Glinda’s personality, she doesn’t fully convey the burgeoning intelligence which shapes Glinda’s journey in the second act.

Steve Danielson as Fiyero, both Elphaba and Glinda’s central love interest, is charming and competent but a little forgettable. Reg Livermore (The Wizard) and Maggie Kirkpatrick (Madam Morrible) both find opportunities to steal the show with their smaller but significant roles.

The show itself is compelling throughout the first act, the extravagant sets and costumes brought to life by the enthusiastic and skilled ensemble, but the pace begins to droop in the second act as the plots takes a darker twist. The musical’s weaknesses begin to show at this point, the cutesy and twee tone of the musical’s book ill-matched with the dramatic events that transpire. Stephen Schwartz’ score does its best to liven events, in particular Elphaba’s emotional breakdown in ‘No Good Deed’, but the true emotional impact of the show is saved for the final moments, with the last image slamming home the heart-breaking toll of what has transpired.

VENUE: Regent Theatre, 191 Collins St, Melbourne.
DATES: 10th May – 20th July
TIMES: Wednesday – 1pm & 8pm, Thursday & Friday – 8pm, Saturday – 2pm & 8pm, Sunday – 1pm & 6.30pm.
BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au, Phone 1300 111 011, Ticketek Outlets or at the venue.

REVIEW: Legally Blonde – The Musical

Omigod, you guys – Lucy Durack is the new pink!

By Kim Edwards

Appropriately playing at The Princess Theatre (that has enjoyed a facelift in pink lighting for the occasion), Legally Blonde – The Musical has opened in Melbourne. Based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy, Elle Woods, a beautiful blonde sorority girl from Malibu, is dumped by her boyfriend and decides following him into Harvard law is the only solution for winning him back. It’s fluffy, frivolous, decidedly fuchsia – and wonderfully good fun.

LEGALLY BLONDE key image (c) Brian Geach

Lucy Durack as Elle is simply effervescent: that beautiful lucid voice and irrepressible vivaciousness on stage is coupled with astute comic timing and delicate character nuances. The effect? Irresistible! Rob Mills does a sound job as Elle’s smarmy ex, Warner, and his song ‘Serious’ is a musical highlight. Cameron Daddo is svelte and smooth as predatory Professor Callahan, while Helen Dallimore comes into her own by the second act when she lets loose as Elle’s new best friend Paulette, and Mike Snell is uproariously funny in his cameo as sexy delivery man Kyle. However, it is David Harris who wins the most hearts as scruffy love interest Emmett Forrest: his disarming naturalism forms an appealing contrast to the high theatricality of the rest of the cast.

For this is definite musical comedy, from the cheer-leading dance moves and cute Barbie doll sets to the scene-stealing antics of Bruiser the purse puppy and Rufus the bulldog. Most of the changes made to get the movie onto the stage are admirable, with new topical jokes and witty lyrics: the opening number ‘Omigod You Guys’ and the cheeky ‘Is He Gay or European?’ are both hilarious and endearing. Less successful is the rather awful title song, the problematic implications of the infamous ‘bend and snap’ technique, and the rather silly plot developments in Act Two, whereby we are left wondering what Elle has actually accomplished for her career and her gender if the legal system and ‘real world’ outside of Delta Nu proves to be as ridiculous and sexist as sorority life.

However, these minor quibbles ultimately do not detract from the merits of this particular Australian production. Legally Blonde – The Musical is pretty in pink, joyously energising, and sparklingly funny. The costumes aren’t always as visually exciting as one might hope, but there is plenty of colour and spectacle, elegant and fluid scene changes, excellent character work from the rest of the cast – and Lucy Durack. Come prepared to fall a little bit in love with this show – and a lot in love with its leading lady.

Legally Blonde is now playing at The Princess Theatre in Melbourne. Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster or ph: 1300 111 011.