Tag: Adam Guettel

REVIEW: Malvern Theatre’s THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

Mi è piaciuto molto!

By Bradley Storer

The overture of Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza starts and instantly we are swept away into the wondrous world conjured up by Adam Guettel’s magnificent score (aided massively by David Dare’s fantastic set). As the sun rises on Florence, an American woman and her daughter wander onstage, eyes filled with wonder at the beauty that surrounds them as the inhabitants begin their early morning rituals, sparking one of the most beautiful openings in musical theatre.

Light in the Piazza

The smaller dimensions of Malvern Theatre suit this piece perfectly, allowing the audience to approach the performance on intimate terms that draw us deep into this exploration of the human heart. Under the musical direction of Shirley White, Guettel’s score is performed immaculately and given full justice, and in particular the ensemble numbers (especially in the second act) are outstanding.

As a whole the cast don’t seem to have the operatic vocal size that the music calls for, but their acting under the direction of Alan Burrows is of such a high quality that this actually doesn’t detract from the show as a whole. Gabrielle O’Brien turns in a delicate and heart-breaking performance as Margaret Johnson, a mother on vacation in Florence with her daughter, and her ‘The Beauty Is’ perfectly fuses together speech and singing into a seamless dramatic whole. Alexandra Clover as Margaret’s daughter Clara tackles this incredibly difficult role with a portrayal that deftly balances the childishness and pure innocence of the character, and her struggle to reconcile the desires of her heart and the limitations of her mind.  Daniel Mottau gives the best performance, both vocally and dramatically, as Clara’s Italian suitor Fabrizio, finding innocence that perfectly matches that of Clara along with an aching passion and youthful exuberance in a dark-hued tenor.

The members of Fabrizio’s family, his father (David McClean), sleazy brother Giuseppe (Ian Frost), and his sad-eyed sister in law Franca (Leonie Thomson) are all played wonderfully, with special mention to Sherryn Kew as Fabrizio’s mother who manages to communicate all of the character’s open-heartedness without ever speaking in English!

The quality of production and performance in this show are astonishing, and the intellectual and emotional depth summoned would be hard to beat, even by a professional production! A stunning and beautiful performance of one the great new works in musical theatre.

Venue: Malvern Theatre, 29A Burke Rd, Malvern East VIC

Dates: 1 – 16th November

Time: 8:15pm Tue – Sat, Matinees Sat 2nd Nov/Sunday 10th Nov 2pm, Gala Night Sat 9th Nov 8pm.

Price: $20/Groups (10+) $18/Gala Night $5 extra

Tickets: 1300 131 552 or at the door

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Review: Opening Night Gala for MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL

A glorious beginning to this year’s star-studded and spangled festival

By Kate Boston Smith

Opening Night Gala

A festival first born in the garden of delights that was The Butterfly Club’s original address has blossomed out of its next gothic home in the South Melbourne Town Hall to now stretch its sequin canopy over the length and breadth of our music-loving city.

It was a fantastic and bold move by directors Neville Sice and David Read to open this year’s heavenly event at the auspicious and grand old dame of live performance art, The Palais Theatre on St Kilda’s Esplanade.   Lush red curtains and a smattering of sparkling stars pulled cabaret performers close to the practically sold-out audience for an intimate taste of this beloved art form.

Fem Belling, jazz vocalist and leading lady (performing her own show Blossom Dearie at Chapel off Chapel) hosted the Gala with all the flair, playful wit and costume changes one could hope for.  Clearly a night of stand-out acts from the festival, Trevor Ashley and Rhonda Burchmore took parody and adult-only panto to gin-soaked, pun-tastic new heights, with Burchmore proving she has still most definitely ‘got it’.

Divine Gala moments included Yana Alana’s scantily-clad excerpts from her anticipated return in Blue Show (being performed at 45 Downstairs). Gripping all with her lasso quips and razor-sharp lyrics Yana Alana brings a certain cheek to the stage others could only dream of.  New York cabaret icon Joey Arias took us from the cheeky to the sensual with his beautiful channeling of Billie Holiday. His velveteen tones should not be missed in Arias on Holiday at Chapel Off Chapel.

Absolute crowd favorite was the impeccable Mary Wilson, original chanteuse of The Supremes.  Draped in a red gown, diamonds and white mink stole, Ms Wilson was every bit the dream diva.  Performing excerpts from Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project, she captivated the entire room with her grace and beauty.

This Gala Opening Night was the perfect initiation into the superb world of cabaret.  All the acts were tremendously chosen, with performers such as Tara Minton, David Pomeranz and Adam Guettel who tantalized all not only with their voices, but literally with the sharing of secrets from their personal lives and work practices.

It is this transformative journey from cabaret room into the mind, body and artist imagination that fuels the fire of cabaret-loving audiences.  This is an ideal time of year to make your way into an intimate performance space to have your soul sparked by some of the best in the business.

The Opening Night Gala took place on Wednesday June 26, 2013. There are over 150 performers and performances running NOW for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2013 until 7 July. Check www.melbournecabaret.com for full listings.