Tag: Trevor Jones

Prince Moo Productions Presents AVENUE Q

Uproariously funny and supremely entertaining

By Jessica Cornish

Growing up as a teenager obsessed with the music of Avenue Q, I was pretty ambivalent as to how the recent Australian production playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre would compare to my original cast recording memories, but as the show began, my anxiety quickly evaporated. It was one of the most engrossing and entertaining musical productions I have seen in the last few years.

Avenue Q.jpg

The story follows recent college grad, Princeton, who moves into a colourful apartment block in a diverse neighbourhood filled with Sesame Street-style monsters, puppets and even humans. Throughout the quirky two-hour (and adults’ only) musical journey, we see the youngster settle down, find romance, lose romance, have a fling, and even gain a life purpose along the way.

The dynamic and often dual characters were well cast with Ross Hannaford (Princeton/Rod), Vincent Hooper (Nicky/Trekkie Monster) and Andrew Hondromatidis (Brian), however exceptional performances belonged to Sophie Write (Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut) and Sun Park (Christmas Eve), who between them stole the show. Both women were vocal standouts: pitch perfect, perfect tone and with great resonance. The vocals for superintendent Gary Coleman (Zuleikah Khan) were less secure at times, although it’s a notoriously tricky part which can often challenge a female’s lower vocal range and demand sacrificing power for pitch. As minor characters that weave themselves in and out of the story, the Bad Behaviour Bears performed by Lulu McClatchy and Hooper were also particularly high energy, hilarious and well-worthy of note.

John Kerr‘s set design was simple but effective and the puppeteers draped in black were well-choreographed and transitioned smoothly in and out of different roles all night. Whether you watched the puppet or a puppeteer, both were equally engaging and emotive. Unfortunately the lighting operation was slightly under whelming and patchy at times on the night I attended, with shadows cast on puppet faces and a couple of sloppy follow-spot pickups: however, I’m sure this will sharpen up as the season progresses. The sound was clear and well balanced, however it would have been nice to bump up the volume for an excited opening night audience.

This was, overall, a brilliant production directed by Peter Snee and musically directed by Trevor Jones, and I honestly could not stop smiling the evening. With those witty lyrics and music written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and Jeff Whitty‘s book helping offer a raunchy insight into the lives of puppets dealing with homosexuality, racism and sex, this new production of Avenue Q is as good as theatre gets.

Season: Performances every night until August 14 (no performances Monday)

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre

Bookings: Ticketek

Image by Nichole Riseley

Doorstep Arts Presents DOGFIGHT

Brave cast and company grapple with Pasek and Paul musical

By Myron My

Dogfight, based on the 1991 River Phoenix film, revolves around the actions of three marines on their final night in a small town in 1963, just before they are to be deployed to Okinawa, and then on to Vietnam. While the trio come from seemingly similar backgrounds, they are friends bound by circumstances of war. Over the course of this night, these bonds are tested, especially when Eddie meets the naive and innocent Rose.


The original production of Dogfight, with book by Peter Duchan, premiered in New York in 2012 and won the Lucille Lortel Outstanding Music Award as well as being nominated for a number of others. However, so much of the show feels outdated, and unfortunately there is nothing new or especially engaging being offered by this story – whereupon even those who are not familiar with the film itself can see exactly how things are going to pan out.

The score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul is fresh and fun to listen to, and under the capable musical direction of Trevor Jones here, the highly talented five-piece band brings their work vividly to life. The lyrics however were a disappointment. They felt clumsy and uninspired, and didn’t really offer much insight to the characters’ thoughts that wasn’t already evident from the book. The strongest numbers are the opening song, “Some Kind of Time”, “Come to a Party” and “Pretty Funny”, the latter finally allowing us to feel what the characters really were.

Alexander Woodward tackles the difficult role of Eddie, whom the audience must somehow simultaneously like, while being repulsed by his actions. Unfortunately, the journey Eddie goes on did not feel fleshed out enough here, and as such, prevented the complexities required of this problematic character to come through on opening night. The changes and realisations he has never seemed to come from a place of understanding and growth and ultimately felt forced. However, Woodward certainly generates some nice moments in his scenes with Olivia Charalambous (Rose), and the duration of their date beginning at the restaurant until their farewell encompasses some of the best moments in the show.

Charalmbous has a great energy on stage and her renditon of “Pretty Funny” was a touching and genuinely emotional scene. Jaclyn DeVincentis adds some excellent comedic timing in her portrayal of Marcy and the honesty with which she plays her is warm and well-grounded, so it’s a shame (but understandable given the role) that she did not have more time on stage. The ensemble are full of vigour, and the choreography by Leanne Marsland brings forth the bravado and aggression we can see would have been rampant during that era.

It’s great that Doorstep Arts are willing to champion lesser-known musicals, and Dogfight does endeavour to look at marine life and how young men’s lives were and are forever changed by needless war. While there were strong performances in this ambitious production and good musical numbers, at 2.5 hours long I admit though that I expected richer character development and a more engaging book from an award-winning work.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: 15 May | Mon- Sat 8pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $49.90 Full | $44.90 Conc
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel