Jon English’s PARIS: A ROCK ODYSSEY

A legend lives on

By Bradley Storer

Music Theatre Melbourne makes a volcanic debut with their powerhouse concert production of Jon English and David MacKay’s Paris at Melbourne Recital Centre. Assembling a phenomenal cast and combining them with the directorial talents of Neil Gooding and the musical direction of Isaac Hayward, this epic and ancient love story comes to life with incredible vivacity.

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The show has been staged in a very simple style, befitting the concert format, which brings the dynamic performances and the electric, pulsating score to the forefront with no need for distracting spectacle. Gooding has cleverly used projected text and images above the stage to fill in gaps between scenes, flowing seamlessly and provided enough detail for the audience to follow without being distracting or unnecessary. Under Hayward’s baton, the orchestra bring every bar of the score to full-bloodied life.

With such a treasure trove of actors bringing every single character to life in thrilling fashion, it can be hard to pick standouts! The princely handsome Matthew Manahan as the central character Paris brings youthful exuberance and charm to the role, as well as a voice of shocking power and range. The character of Helen of Troy is given a surprisingly sympathetic and complex portrayal in Paris, which gives Madeleine Featherby the chance to range from delicately wistful and lovestruck in one scene, to fiercely intelligence and bravery in the next, showcasing maximum control over her wide vocal range. Kerrie Anne Greenland as the princess and prophetess Cassandra is so ferociously charismatic and commanding that it can be hard to take your eyes off her whenever she appears onstage, and her belting as the city of Troy burns around her is jaw-dropping. The chorus, who remain onstage for most of the evening, are first-rate and sing magnificently in all their numbers.

Truly this production can’t be praised enough – on their opening night, the entire company received an overwhelming standing ovation that couldn’t have been more well deserved. With only four performances, you’ll be sorry if you’ve missed  out on seeing this production that showcases the best of what Australian music theatre has to offer!

Paris: A Rock Odyssey played at Melbourne Recital Centre, 31 Sturt St, Southbank, from 13 – 15th July 2017.

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