Tag: Stephen Gray

The Music of the Night – The songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Pure perfection – you won’t get better on Broadway!

By Sebastian Purcell

This is the ultimate musical and Andrew Lloyd Webber fans dream show. More than 90 minutes of pure joy from the most talented cast to perform at Chapel off Chapel – and I’m not exaggerating, this should be playing in Hamer Hall.

With songs from Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle down the Wind and others, this wonderfully staged show gives respect to each song and performance through its own simple but effective lighting in the fittingly intimate Chapel; the brilliant starry night backdrop (Harrie Hogan), choreography (Celina Yuen) and staging (Director Theresa Borg), creating scenes all unto themselves.

The cast – Bianca Bruce, Andy Conaghan, Madison Green, Genevieve Kingsford, Cherine Peck, Christopher Scalzo, Caitlin Spears, Tod Strike and Raphael Wong – are sublime in their delivery, their vocals are warm, big and pitch perfect. Special guest Debra Bryne is an absolute delight and brings a raw authenticity to her performances which left the cast and audience visibly emotional. There’s something so real and heartfelt when Bryne performs the song Memory that it feels like a big love letter from her time originating the role of Grizabella in Cats in 1985.

Its so hard to pick favourites, but I will because there are moments that stood out that made my night, including Wong’s opening number of The Music of the Night, sung as well as I’ve heard Simon Gleeson sing. His tone is just so smooth and the vocal control is insane. The cello accompaniment was the perfect choice to let his vocals shine.

Another standout was Evita by Bianca Bruce, and even though I saw Evita in Melbourne, I thought Bruce knocked it out of the park; the strength, the precision and a real emotional essence, not to mention the wonderful harmony from the cast humming along was stunning.

A new favourite for me from the evening is now Too Much in Love to Care, Sunset Boulevard (Conaghan & Spears). The harmonies are gorgeous and made me feel a real connection between them.

And I just cant go past Macavity, Cats by Bruce & Scalzo. It was playful, a joy to watch, and some serious vocals to match.

Across the cast you could feel a sense of connection and respect for one another, and how it lifted each other up; you could see how special it was to have Byrne on stage with them. I’m clearing my calendar for a second viewing!

I could go on about every song, they were all amazing, and wonderfully accompanied by Music Director Stephen Gray and the band, Gary Norman, Nathan Post and John Clarke.

You’d be crazy to miss this very short season of just 6 shows at Chapel off Chapel from 12 May to 16 May

Tickets available at www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Photography by Ben Fon

REVIEW: GEORGY GIRL – The Seekers Musical

New musical relives the making of Aussie music history

By Amy Planner

The Seekers are an Australian icon of the 1960s music scene and they have finally been recognised the way any great stars should – by being further immortalised on stage. Georgy Girl is the vibrant new stage musical story of The Seekers’ rise to fame.

Georgy Girl - The Seekers Musical photo credit Jeff Busby.JPG

When a young insecure Judith Durham joins a folk group for a night, little did she know her life would change forever. Along with Athol Guy the business-minded bass player, Bruce Woodley the keen songwriter and Keith Potger the lady-loving guitarist, they became The Seekers. This musical follows their journey from a local club in Balwyn, Victoria, to the world’s stage and back again.

The casting of this historical musical was superb; the combination of Pippa Grandison as Judith, Phillip Lowe as Keith, Mike McLeish as Bruce and Glaston Toft as Athol could not have been any better. Their spectacular performances were only topped by their musical talent and ability to move so easily from song to song. Grandison has a wonderfully full and versatile voice, stealing the stage with her rendition of “Mamma’s Got The Blues” in Act Two.

Being opening night and a world premiere there were bound to be a few glitches here and there. There were just a few clunky scene changes and a few slight harmony issues, but they are sure to be ironed out with a few more shows. Luckily, there was also  an abundance of very upbeat dancing from the impressive ensemble that kept everyone thoroughly entertained.

Unfortunately the big stylistic change of Judith at the end of Act One was rather uneventful; a famous number like “Georgy Girl” in a show called Georgy Girl should surely have elicited a little more pizzazz. The second act, however, dealt with many more emotional tragedies the band had to face. This handling of this was very delicate and respectful, giving emotional heaviness where due and light-hearted moments when possible. It took a really expressive cast, fine scripting and a well-balanced production team to make these scenes as poignant as they were.

Isaac Lummis has done a sincerely unique job of the costuming for Georgy Girl. The outfits are original and distinctive: it took a truly creative eye to collate so many vibrant and stylistic patterns and shapes so successfully.

The musical team Stephen Amos and Stephen Gray deserve much praise for their work with the cast in bringing The Seekers to life in theatre. The intricate harmonies and beautiful voices would not have sounded so authentic and appealing without their guidance and skill.

The audience at this premiere were luck enough to be graced with a cameo from the real Seekers themselves,  who walked the red carpet and joined the cast on stage at the end of the show. The crowd was delightfully surprised as the quartet took their bows in front of a standing ovation.

This appealing new show highlights a truly exceptional moment in Australia’s musical history and will be a delight for those long-serving and new-found Seekers fans.

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne.
Season: 22nd December – 21st February, Tues 7pm, Wed 1pm/7pm, Thurs 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm/8pm, Sun 3pm.
Tickets: From $60
Bookings: ticketek.com.au

Image by Jeff Busby