Tag: Theresa Borg

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: Not Quite Right

A heart-warming tribute and ode to family

By Sebastian Purcell

Bringing this one woman, all encompassing, cabaret to life is no mean feat. Seasoned performer Susan-ann Walker (Once, Funny Girl, Cabaret, The Secret Garden, Confessions of a Sex Kitten) transforms into more than 10 characters – or family members – singing a variety of styles and playing the piano, ukulele and accordion, and doing it all with extraordinary humour, and most importantly, authenticity. This show celebrates those eccentric, crackerjack, kooky and courageous people who proudly march to the beat of their own drum. 

Susan-ann  provides a lesson in character acting; one of the standout performances is that of an opera diva, ironically giving the audience a lesson in performing ‘My Sharona’. The performance easily draws comparison, and perhaps inspiration, from that of Glinda and Carlotta from Wicked and Phantom of the Opera respectively. While Joy, the music teacher, with her calming voice and presence, is reminiscent of Adele’s ‘Jenny’ on the Graham Norton Show and provides a bundle of laughs.

Mamooshka, a Czech cabaret artist and vodka ambassador, provides all the laughs as she (begrudgingly) entertains with well-known modern hits, and to top it off provides an encore you never knew you needed – a brand new interpretation of Queen … on the accordion no less.

But the heart and soul this show is Susan-Ann telling her story through Radio Heads’ Creep as a love letter to her 15-year-old crush, and the fondness of retelling these childhood memories, that makes this a unique, human and fantastic piece of cabaret.

The use of multimedia throughout the show serves to present additional characters and allow for the wonderful character transformations – the costumes add an extra feather in this shows cap.

It’s not for the faint hearted, the characters have their choice language, though if you’re up for a laugh then this is the show to kick back and not only immerse yourself in Susan-ann’s story, but a chance to reflect on your own family and childhood too. Directed by Theresa Borg, the creative and tech team, produce an all round polished performance.

Not Quite Right is laugh out loud, tears rolling down your face funny show, that has a big heart at the centre of it.

For more shows at The MC Showroom ( 1/48 Clifton St, Prahran) visit http://www.themcshowroom.com

Photography courtesy of Angel Leggas

Life Like Company Presents THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

Beautiful and beguiling musical of love

By Bradley Storer

A twinkling of strings on the harp, cascading into a glorious swirl of orchestral sound under the swell of a soaring and mellifluous soprano voice – from the very first moments of the opening night of The Light in the Piazza, Adam Guettel’s sumptuous score (gorgeously conducted by Vanessa Scammell) instantly swept us into the magically romantic landscape of Florence, Italy.

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The entire cast, under the capable direction of Theresa Borg and in Kim Bishop’s stunning costumes, are close to flawless. Genevieve Kingsford as the childlike Clara Johnson has the unenviable task of depicting a character with a mental disability that is never fully explained, but Kingsford is a marvel in the part, sensitively balancing Clara’s innocence and openness with a fog of anxiety and confusion but never tips over into caricature. Her rich youthful soprano manages the difficult score with ease and her beautiful rendition of the eponymous song whipped the crowd into a roaring applause on opening night.

As Clara’s ardent suitor Fabrizio Naccarelli, Jonathon Hickey brought a bright and piercing tenor and a refreshing adolescent sincerity to the part – while his ‘Il Mondo Era Vuoto’ came off a touch too anguished, he harnessed a touching sensitivity in ‘Love to Me’. Anton Berezin was commanding and charming as Fabrizio’s father, while Josh Piterman as the older brother Giuseppe exuded charisma and flashy charm. Madison Green as Giuseppe’s long-suffering wife Franca managed to find the heart and kindness in a deeply wounded and embittered woman, as well as ably handling the trickiest moments of Guettel’s music.

The heart of this musical, however, is the central role of Margaret Johnson, the mother of Clara whose journey through the show embodies the conflict between the human search for love and the fear that true lasting love is nothing but an illusion. Chelsea Plumley sometimes pushes into moments of slight performativity as Margaret, but overall she nails the character’s charm, intelligence and courage, giving glorious voice to Margaret’s inner conflict as she addresses the audience in both direct dialogue and dramatically compelling song.

The backdrop of paintings and sculpture that fly in and out seamlessly, designed by Tom Willis, make a wonderful set and illustrate the libretto’s constant correlation of the characters’ plights with the figures of renaissance art, but at certain points they blocked the view of the action – physical transitions between scenes were sometimes made awkward by lighting that highlighted instead of concealing the cast and crew moving the scenery.

These small concerns aside, Life Like Company has produced an outstanding production that wonderfully captures the magic of this modern musical, captivating the audience from start to finish with its magnificent score and achingly-rendered story – heart-meltingly lovely and heart-breaking all at the same time. 

Venue: The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.

Times: 8pm Friday and Saturday, 6pm Sunday

Dates: October 28 – November 6

Tickets: $65 – $135

Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au , 1300 182 183, at the box office.

Image by Ben Fon