Tag: Andrew Hondromatidis

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

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REVIEW: Nick Hedger’s PLAYGROUND

An eclectic collection from an exciting young composer

By Narelle Wood

Playground is a collection of songs by the very talented Nick Hedger. Whilst some of the songs, such as those from Hedger’s much talked-about one-man cabaret show Crap I Found in My Room, have obviously been worked through a number of times, this musical collection also showcased some of his newer work including songs from HomeSick and Conditions.

Playground

Playground’s ‘players’ consisted of an experienced and talented cast including Kerrie Anne Greenland, Brent Hill, Andrew Hondromatidis, Erin Kennedy, Emily Langridge, Ben Nicholson and Nick Hedger himself. Given the experience of the cast it was honestly hard sometimes to work out whether the occasional off note, which was mostly noticeable during the harmonies, was first-night nerves or a result of Hedger’s sometimes unusual, but workable, musical arrangements.

The musical numbers showcased Hedger’s ability to write everything from comedy, to ballads, to creepy tunes about the Pied Piper taking his revenge. While there were some clear themes to songs from the same musical works, without reading the explanation in the program many of the songs lacked context making it difficult to ascertain what was going on. This was especially the case where the songs made overt references to storylines and characters from particular shows, and was further compounded by the show jumping from musical to musical. That been said, the show did have an overall balance between the musical genres it presented.

The standout moments of the night were provided by those pieces that were written or performed with comedic intent: “Golden Rule”, “Playa” and “Is That What Makes a Relationship?” On the creepier side of the comedy was the performance of Hondromatidis, Nicholson and Hill as three witches back from the dead in “Back in Salem”; this was disturbingly entertaining in the only way watching three grown men menacingly sing “we’re coming for your children” can be.

It has to be said that Hedger’s ability to tickle the ivories stole the show, especially during the piano solo from “Bit of a Feelin’”. Whilst some of the ballads were a little over-sentimental, I would be very eager to see more of Hedger’s work: this is a musical mastermind in the making.

Venue:Chapel off Chapel, Prahran

Season:Saturday 1st March 8pm, Sunday 2nd March, 6.30pm

Tickets:$30 Full | $25 Concession

Bookings: chapeloffchapel.com.au/ticket-sales/