By Narelle Wood
Arts Captain details the triumphs and tribulations of over zealous Arts Captain Theodore Etherington in a show that can easily be described as The Office meets Glee.
We first meet Theodore (Jayden Walker) just before the first school assembly of the year. Theodore’s plan is to literally make such a song and dance about his prefect position that no-one, including the new drama teacher will have any doubt over who’s really in charge. There is one small glitch in Theodore’s plan – he can’t sing and his dance moves are reminiscent of the uncoordinated kid at the back of the Rock Eisteddfod ensemble. It is very quickly established, at least for the audience, that Theodore is all glitter and glam and with not much of a gift for the musical theatre genre.
The story is a familiar one – ego temporarily crushed, dramatic unleashing of blame and venom upon anyone within spitting distance, and some salvation in the end. What makes this show work is the way Walker has carefully crafted the narrative, the ease with which he breaks the fourth wall and returns to character, and the nuanced (and overtly obvious) references to Broadway littered through out. As a teacher I appreciated the self-deprecating, self-awareness of what it’s like to teach a student of Theodore’s ilk. As far as musical selections go, I was impressed with the selection of songs and how they, mostly (by Walker’s own admission), fitted with the narrative. However, I will never quite be able to listen to I Dreamed a Dream again without conjuring up images of Walker’s tortured rendition.
There were only two things I struggled with. One, Walker was at times very quiet and it was hard to hear him above the ambient noise coming from outside the theatre space. And two, I wanted to hear if he could really sing; I’m sure there was an in-tune note there somewhere in his repertoire. Those two things aside, it was guffawingly brilliant in its cringe-worthiness.
Arts Captain is every bad high-school musical moment rolled into one and Theodore is so realistic that I found myself thinking “My God, I think I’ve taught this kid”. I hadn’t. Arts Captain is obnoxious and entertaining. If this is the calibre of show Walker is producing as he’s starting out, I can’t wait to see what he does as his career evolves.
Arts Captain was performed at The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne at 7pm Sat 25th & Sun 26th February, 2017.