Tag: Tod Strike

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: The Collective Presents PARADE

You don’t know this man
By Bradley Storer
New Melbourne company The Collective make their theatrical debut with the first professional production in Australia of Jason Robert Brown’s modern classic Parade, a tale of injustice, prejudice and murder in early 20th-century Atlanta.
Parade
Luigi Lucente as Leo Frank, the Jewish factory superintendent who is accused of murdering young Mary Phagan (Jemma Plunkett), turns in a performance perfect from head to toe. Lucente portrays Frank as a man whose alienation from the community has left him a lonely sensitive soul with a icy, defensive exterior – not shying away from the more strident aspects of Frank’s personality, Lucente intertwines them in such a way that they strike a delicious note of ambiguity over whether Frank is capable of committing murder. His plain-spoken appeal to the jury, ‘It’s Hard to Speak My Heart’, is heartrendingly beautiful.
Laura Fitzpatrick brings a subdued gentle air and a sweet, touching voice to Frank’s wife, Lucille. She takes a quieter, less belty approach to Lucille’s big numbers ‘You Don’t Know This Man’ and ‘Do it Alone’ than some interpreters, but this means we never lose sight of Lucille as an ordinary woman driven by an immense inner strength which blossoms over the course of the story. The delicacy and chemistry which she and Lucente bring to the couple’s penultimate love duet ‘All the Wasted Time’ is electrifying, sending shivers up the spine.
The supporting roles are filled out admirably – Cameron MacDonald has charisma to burn as reporter Britt Craig. who whips the South into a media frenzy over the controversial trial, and turns in solid work as Governor Jack Slaton. Tod Strike is a commanding presence as amoral prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, and Andrew Doyle brings an impish charm to Frankie Epps, the teenager who spearheads the mob violence which leads to the musical’s tragic conclusion. The ensemble overall are top quality, bringing fierce commitment to a variety of roles and levels of moral ambiguity.
The performance space, which has the audience split in two on either side with action playing out in the middle, is used to thrilling effect in the first act. The isolation of husband from wife in ‘Leo at Work/What Am I Waiting For’ is illustrated perfectly as they stand at the separate ends of the stage echoed later by the chillingly emotional image which closes Act One. The cleverly staged trial sequence symbolically and physically makes the audience implicit in the condemnation of Leo, as well tapping into the inherently theatrical nature of a trial itself. However, this fades in Act Two where the staging is used less imaginatively and begins to impede the effectiveness of the show instead. The split staging and somewhat confusing direction of the last scene dilutes the impact of its final revelation, reducing the poignancy of what should be the emotional sucker-punch of the musical.

These small issues aside, this is a strong debut from the emerging company with a challenging and immensely satisfying piece that should be a ‘must see’ for all Melbourne music theatre enthusiasts!

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD
Date: 17-28 Sept, 2014
Times: TuesSat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Tickets: $45, Conc $40, Groups (8+) $40
Bookings: Ph 03 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com