A dazzling, electrifying and vocal soaring production
By Sebastian Purcell
Amazing Grace New York, New York, directed by Karen Jemison, is the second iteration in succeeding to bring calisthenics and musical theatre together as one spectacular, dazzling, electrifying and vocal soaring production.
This is 90 minutes of pure Broadway hits masterfully performed by a tight on stage orchestra, led superbly by music director and orchestrator Jack Earle, while 41 of the top National, State and Royal South Street calisthenics title holders and top musical theatre performers sing and dance their hearts out.
While this played out more as a musical review than a cohesive show, everyone was given a number to shine in. Choreographers Jeanne Sorich, Lucinda Williams and Sue-Ellen Shook should be applauded for creating tight, visually appealing, energetic, vibrant routines that successfully incorporate jazz, tap, ballet, musical theatre and calisthenic routines.
Jemison’s costume designs are bold and pure quality. Each number has its own distinct costume, supporting the ravishing colour and movement on stage. A personal favourite of mine was the individual coloured dresses in Put on Your Sunday Clothes as everyone lined up resembling a wonderful rainbow.
The technical aspects of the show were smooth, the lighting design by Jason Bovaird was clever, dynamic and slick, complementing each scene and supporting seamless transitions between numbers. Equally the sound design (Marcello Lo Ricco, Josh Mattiell) was crisp, clear and rich.
Nigel Huckle, Emily Langridge, Thomas McGuane, Alexis van Maanen and Stephanie Wall deliver standout performances and, in some instances, overshadow the rest of the cast with sublime vocals and emotionally connected performances. In particular stand out songs include Just Keep Moving the Line (Smash), A Musical (Something Rotten), One Perfect Moment (Bring It On), One (A Chorus Line), and She Used to be Mine (Waitress). The only critique is that I would have preferred the routine from You Walk with Me to be performed to She Used to be Mine for a simpler, softer, more emotional effect.
The strength, flexibility, coordination, and synchronicity from all the performers is remarkable and you can see the passion and enjoyment they each have for their craft. The encore performance of The Greatest Showman was a fitting end to what was a quality evening of entertainment.
Amazing Grace, New York New York plays at the National Theatre, St Kilda Jan 31 – February 2, 2020.