Tag: Stephanie Marion Wood

Review: The Pitts

A high-octane energy masterclass in how to be well from those who really shouldn’t teach it.

By Sebastian Purcell

The Pitts is an enthusiastic and camp cabaret, taking the residents of Shady Pines Nursing Home through their Weekly Wednesday Wellness Program, inviting everyone to boost their five pillars of wellness: physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional.

Carol and Daryl Pitts (Stephanie Marion Wood and Brendy Ford) must use the skills they obtained through their self-designed six-week theatre course to navigate the ups and downs of their professional and private lives and keep their geriatric residents “stayin alive” for just another week.

This is a highly fun and laugh-out loud cabaret with some wonderful comedic timing by writer and choreographer Brendan Ford and Musical direction by Stephanie Marion Wood. The pair deliver tandem dance routines reminiscent of 1990’s aerobicise in ‘100 percent polyester’ blue and pink sparkling tracksuits, to tracks such as Rhianna’s SOS, Where have you been and Disturbia, and Katy Perry’s Firework and Last Friday Night.

The vocals are carried by Wood who does a terrific job in maintaining the high energy routines and singing other hits such as Absolutely Everybody, You Can’t Stop the Music and Physical. However, it is her moments at the piano, in particular Carol’s lament (under pillar 4 Spiritual) over husband Daryl’s ‘suckiness’, with Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings, which delivers the most impactful performance; it is a highlight for the show.

Brendy Ford delivers some terrific deadpan backing vocals, and has a standout dance performance once he reaches emotional wellness; it’s a shame that we don’t get a true vocal performance from Ford.

Cameo performances from Stacey Kelly and Leigh Jay Booth, as Nurse and resident Ethel respectively, are slightly under-utilised, and their interactions, while comedic, also reflect some of the recent commentary within the aged-care sector. 

There are a number of gags that are a hit with the audience, who were roaring with laughter throughout, including at references to the infamous Sydney Ruby Princess and a timeshare orgy at Lake Eildon. Despite this, there are moments that I found that languished, like a really long lunch-break scene that breaks the flow; I wonder whether this might have been better punctuated with an additional ballad.

Overall, this is a terrific show for the whole family, provided everyone’s okay with the occasional mild sexual innuendo the prospect of some audience participation. The Pitts played at the Athenaeum Theatre, Collins St, Melbourne.

Photography courtesy of Salty Theatre

REVIEW: Miss Friby Presents TOP SPOT

Glitz and glee with double the divas

By Myron My

Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Top Spot is a one-woman show performed by two blonde bombshells, Gloria and Delia. Well no, it’s just Gloria’s show. But actually it’s really Delia’s show. Either way, it’s a great evening of cabaret, burlesque and comedy as the two women fight it out for the highly coveted “top spot” in the eyes of the audience.

TOP SPOT

Having been working together since 2013, Stephanie Marion Wood (Gloria) and Elizabeth Dawson-Smith (Delia) are a perfectly matched and complementary team to watch on stage together. Having previously seen the two perform twice in Miss Friby’s Two Pound Parlour, I expected to be in for a night of naughty hi-jinks and I was not disappointed.

In Top Spot, the two women are in a constant battle to ‘one-up’ each other, considering just the mere thought of sharing the spotlight is met with indignation and revulsion. The fun, high energy acts throughout the show and the brilliant costumes on display clearly indicate the time and effort the performers have gone to in creating this show. However, the scenes where Wood and Dawson-Smith are conversing with each other or the audience waver in their humour and comedy and still needs some refining.

While I’m not convinced a 60-minute show needs to have an intermission and make the show run 15 minutes over its advertised time, the second half of Top Spot is by far the stronger of the two, beginning with an amazing visual and vocal rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier”. Wood and Dawson-Smith are both extremely endearing on stage and know how to turn on the charm to win us over. The audience warmed to them immediately so that when we reach the audience participation required comedy segment “What Will You Do For a Cocktail?”, very little resistance or hesitation is present.

As much as Delia and Gloria would hate me for saying this, there is no place for an individual “top spot” in this show. Both Wood and Dawson-Smith shine in Top Spot and dazzle us with an array of entertaining acts that result in a very enjoyable night.

Venue: Ruby’s Music Room, Bennett’s Lane, Melbourne, 3000.

Season: Until 4 October | Fri – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 2pm (family friendly show)

Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Revolt Productions’ Encore of TWO POUND PARLOUR

Revamped, revitalised and re-viewed

By Myron My

In Two Pound Parlour, Miss Friby (Elizabeth Dawson-Smith) returns from exile after performing “preposterous acts of showmanship”. In order to find the critic who made such comments, she gets her girls and boy together to create a spectacular show to coerce the reviewer to attend and then enact her revenge. Cue a big night of burlesque, dance, circus, vaudeville, comedy and songs!

Two_Pound_Parlour

It has been a year since I first saw Two Pound Parlour so I was keen to see how the show has evolved and developed over time, and for the most part, it has turned into something better. There are still a few skits that fall flat – the Vegas wedding (despite its changes) still doesn’t work and is more awkward than funny – but the energy and commitment the six performers put in is more than you could ask for.

The addition of Daniel Ham (Egson Ham) as the first ever male in Two Pound Parlour is an excellent choice. Apart from being able to perform the “male” roles, such as in “Not In A Gay Way”, the dynamic versatility he brings keeps things interesting. Also appearing for the first time as Unleashya Deville was Aleisha Manion, who along with Stephanie Marion Wood (Lady Stiff) stole many of the scenes they were in. Their role in “Heaven in a Box” was particularly hilarious and Wood’s vocal talents are more than impressive.

As an ensemble, the group works extremely well together and the pace and choreography are extremely tight. The showy tap dancing routine and the memorable stomping-dance number really highlight just how synchronised they are.

With some worn for only a few minutes, the vast array of costumes designed by Kim Ritchie and Sara Yael is testament to the amount of time and skill that has been spent on getting this show up again. The set design by Rob Smith needs to be mentioned for its creativity and really setting the scene for the audience. The music by band Rapskallion is of a high level and the song performed by Miss Friby and the two singers, Yael and Carmen O’Brien, is perfectly executed.

Two Pound Parlour is still a little rough around some of its sexy edges but overall, it is a highly welcome return for this group of talented performers and this returning critic will be interested to see where Miss Friby and her girls and boy go to next with this wild and crazy ride.

Venue: Revolt Productions, 12 Elizabeth Street Kensington
Season: Until 16 July | 7:30pm
Tickets: From $35.00
Bookings: http://revoltproductions.com