Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: Drew Collet in TALES OF A USED CAR SALESMAN

In Cabaret, Cabaret Review, Events, Whats On on August 24, 2014 at 6:53 am

Come along for the ride

By Narelle Wood

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is an interesting cabaret glimpse into the world of used car sales. But instead of the stereotypical dodgy dealings of the used car salesman, it’s the customers that come under scrutiny. Drew Collet tells his first hand account of his dealings with these customers through stories, songs and a little bit of psychoanalysis.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman

It’s clear from the outset that a used car salesman is privy to all sorts of details about his customer, and does much more for his customers than just sell cars. From stories about stalkers and employees with some interesting fetishes, to the lengths people will go to in order to get a discount, Collet seems to have seen it all and a whole lot more.

The songs are familiar, with numbers such as the aptly selected “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home” and parodies of “It Was a Very Good Year” and “Rocket Man”. Collet’s acting and musical background from VCA means that he can not only belt out a tune, but has the singing range that makes his musical numbers both entertaining and a pleasure to listen to as well. Sophie Weiss provides both musical direction and some fairly fancy accompaniment on the piano.

The show seemed to be over fairly quickly (it was about an hour), and I left wanting a few more stories about Collet’s quirky customers. While it was very entertaining there were a couple of the songs that only seemed to repeat the story being told; they were very enjoyable, but it did leave me curious about how Collet came to select his songs.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is fun, quirky and thoroughly enjoyable. So if you like some good light-hearted comedy, or perhaps in need of a new used car, this show is worth checking out.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, off Little Collins Street
Season: Until Sunday 24th August, 8pm
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/tales-of-a-used-car-salesman

REVIEW: Left Bauer Productions Presents MASTER CLASS

In Opera, Review, Theatre, Uncategorized, Whats On on August 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Intimate and involving theatre

By Bradley Storer

Terrence McNally’s Master Class, a play about the life of Greek opera singer Maria Callas whose artistry and career revolutionised the landscape of 20th century opera, comes to fortyfivedownstairs with the brilliant Maria Mercedes as the tragic diva.

Master Class

The intimate theatre space at fortyfivedownstairs is perfect for the play set as a masterclass in the twilight of Callas’s career, the era signalled effectively by the 70’s fashion worn by the cast. Mercedes enters the room with an air of quiet authority, an iron fist wrapped in silk, taking charge of the stage and the accompanist (Cameron Thomas) in short order. Mercedes is the embodiment of the word ‘diva’ – narcissistic, commanding and uncompromising but with such charisma and a depth of artistic integrity that it is easier to see how this figure still fascinates today. Mercedes manages to find the undercurrents of charm, self-deprecation and kindness in the character which also make her surprisingly likeable.

The three students who Callas teaches over the course of the play are all equally as brilliant – Robert Barbaro as the sole male participant Tony brings a potent masculine swagger and a heart-meltingly beautiful tenor to the role. Anna-Louise Cole as Sharon, the only student with the guts to stand up to the opera superstar, radiates a subdued determination which rises to the surface as she faces off against Callas – her dramatic soprano is showcased to jaw-dropping effect in an tremendously difficult aria from Verdi’s Macbeth. The best of the lot is Georgia Wilkinson as Sophie, a bubbly coloratura soprano, and Wilkinson plays her so winningly that it is hard to take your eyes off her, even when she is simply standing side stage observing Callas.

As she watches her students singing roles she herself made famous, Callas is drawn into internal monologues of operatic proportions, brutally delving into the depths of her poverty-stricken childhood, her ill-fated love affair with Aristotle Onassis, the demons of self-doubt, bitterness and adolescent insecurity which swirl into implosive arias of painful triumph and gut-wrenching loss.

At the end of the master class, Callas stands alone, reflecting to the audience on the simultaneous joy and loneliness of a life devoted to art, saying that she will be satisfied if she has had an effect on even a single person – it’s hard to imagine how anyone could leave this masterfully directed play without feeling affected by the soul of this great artist.

Venue: 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 19 – 28th August
Times: Tuesday to Friday 8pm, Saturday 4:30pm and 8pm, Sunday 4:30
Tickets: Full $38, Concession $30, Under 30’s $30, Groups (10+) $30, Preview $30
Bookings: Phone – 03 9662 9966, Online at www.fortyfivedownstairs.com

REVIEW: The Production Company’s SHOWBOAT

In Events, Musical Theatre, Review, Whats On on August 18, 2014 at 9:38 am

Difficult classic musical beautifully re-staged for modern audiences

By Narelle Wood

Off the back of Guys and Dolls, The Production Company have put together another brilliant production, this time bringing to the stage Show Boat, directed by Roger Hodgman.

Mostly set in the Deep South during the late 1800’s, the story follows the characters of the Show Boat over the best part of 30 years. The show mostly centres on the cautionary love story of Captain Andy’s daughter Magnolia (Alinta Chidzey) and the no-good-river-gambler Gaylord Ravenol (Gareth Keegan).

Showboat - Alinta Chidzey and Gareth Keegan

But the show is about more than just the clichéd moral tale for good girls who meet bad boys and fall in love at first sight. The setting also allows for exploration of race relationships, the changing nature of entertainment (especially with the advent of new technology) and, perhaps most poignantly, the idea that no matter how much things might change, things also stay very much the same.

Chidzey and Keegan were tremendous in their roles as Magnolia and Gaylord, although Chidzey’s wig did seem a little too blonde for her darker features. Philip Gould was charming as Captain Andy, who, along with Ellie May (Nicole Melloy) and Frank (Glenn Hill) brings much needed light-heartedness to temper the darker side of the show. Judith Roberts provided some straight-laced humour as Parthy, and the exceptionally strong cast is rounded off with Christina O’Neill as Julie, Heru Pinkasova as Queenie and Eddie Muliaumaseali’i as Joe. While the performances of all the cast members including the ensemble were brilliant, Muliaumaseali’i’s performance of Ol’ Man River gave me chills, and it can only be described as sublime.

My expectations of any show from The Production Company is extremely high and I never walk away disappointed. Once again the costuming was great, from the 1800’s dresses complete with bustles to the asymmetrical raised hemlines of the 1920’s. Hodgman cleverly addressed the need to have a boat on stage through some stunning use of digital imagery. And given that I overheard a number of people singing on the way out of the theatre, I’d say that the orchestra did a pretty good job too.

If you didn’t see Guys and Dolls then Show Boat is an absolute must; the production value is priceless, the performances flawless, and, once again, Muliaumaseali’i’s rendition of “Ol’ Man River” is something not to be missed.

Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne
Season: 21st to 23rd July 7.30pm, 20th August 1pm, 23rd August 2pm and 24th August 3pm.
Tickets: Full $48-$119 | Conc $24-$105
Bookings: http://artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on

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