Tag: Andrew Strano

REVIEW: The Songs of Mackenzie-Spencer and Strano

Once was not enough…

By Adam Tonking

Do you remember the musical revue? Not the latest incarnation where the greatest hits of a deceased or retired composer are swept together so the paying audience get to hear their favourites. I’m talking about an evening where a composer and lyricist team get to showcase their collection of stand-alone songs. Maltby and Shire come to mind. An evening with The Songs Of Mackenzie-Spencer and Strano was just like those glory days.

The Songs of Mckenzie-Spencer and Strano

And what’s glorious about this format is that each new song is its own story: a new character to meet, a new dilemma to be faced, and resolution in six or so minutes. This allows for the exploration of characters and situations that probably wouldn’t be sustainable over a longer work. And boy, did Mackenzie-Spencer and Strano explore some unchartered territory. From addiction to babies, to making incest work, to coping with discount airlines; the quirky situations seldom strayed from the continuing theme of overcoming obstacles. Mackenzie-Spencer and Strano just found them in places Maltby and Shire never dared.

And it was hilarious. Strano has a strong understanding of comedy in song, and Mackenzie-Spencer’s playful yet carefully crafted music elevates the bawdiest of joke to something golden. There were a few tender, more emotional moments, and the team were more than up to the task, to show that they are more than a comedy duo.

The cast were sublime. This was essentially a showcase for the brilliant creations of Mackenzie-Spencer and Strano, but I couldn’t leave without mentioning the cast. Rob Tripolino with his deft handling of incest, Andrew Broadbent with his gorgeous bass voice in “Weekend Getaway,” Stephanie Jones’ sweet awkwardness in “Sandwiches,” Mike McLeish selling the slow-burn story of “Crack Babies,” Keagan Vaskess – a last-minute replacement – who nearly stole the show with “Scientific View” a song about love as science fiction and “Still Waiting” about the expections of becoming an adult after reading Harry Potter, and finally Fem Belling who absolutely rocked the audience with “Kabaret,” a parody of the tropes of cabaret performance. I did feel like the cast could have used more time with the material, but I understand that a concert performance of new songs by new Australian writers would have limited resources to allow this. More’s the pity; the cast were more than capable, and the songs would have shone brighter.

Since this was a one-night only performance, and you won’t have the opportunity to see this show, I insist you take down the names of everyone involved and see everything that they do. Particularly Lochlan Mackenzie-Spencer and Andrew Strano, for there is a limited amount of support for original material for musicals in Australia. And they deserve the chance to become at least as famous as Maltby and Shire.

The Songs Of Mackenzie-Spencer And Strano played at Chapel Off Chapel on June 20th 2015 at 8pm. Since I’d normally give you details where to buy tickets, this time I thought I’d give you details to follow them. Twitter: MS&S (@MS_and_S) or Facebook: Mackenzie-Spencer & Strano

REVIEW: Quiet Achievers

A quietly improvised comedy

By Myron My

Performing an improvised comedy show can be more terrifying than performing stand up. You have no idea what’s going to happen next from both your fellow cast and the audience. In essence, you have no safety net. You’d think that’s risky enough but the Quiet Achievers have taken it a step further with their Melbourne International Comedy Festival show and taken away a comedian’s most powerful tool; their voice.

Quiet Achievers

With nothing but a musical soundtrack of 500 songs played at random, the Quiet Achievers (Andrew Strano and Charlie Sturgeon) set out to captivate us with a mixed bag of silent impro sketches. As with any impro show, there is always a chance scenes will not hit the mark and with this show there are moments when stories fizzle out with an awkward ending or the story gets convoluted and confusing.

However, the two are charming and affable enough to get the audience on side early on so even when things go haywire, we don’t mind and can still appreciate the performance. There are some brilliant moments from this talented duo though, including the kite flying love story and their story about the little bird that learnt how to stand up for itself.

Strano and Sturgeon are a great pair to watch on stage. Strano’s comedy man to Sturgeon’s straight man is highly complimentary and the two have a great connection on stage. They are constantly aware of each other and what they are doing; they work hard (but seemingly easily) at giving each other a good time and making their partner look good. They happily accept every offer in advancing the story with confidence and a sense of fun.


There are a number of improvised comedy shows on during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but if you’re looking for something a little different, a little riskier but very rewarding, then the Quiet Achievers is the show for you.


Venue: Tuxedo Cat, 17-23 Wills St, Melbourne

Season: Until 4 April | Mon – Sat 6pm, Sun 5pm (no Wednesday show)

Tickets: $15 Full | $12 Conc

Bookings: Try Booking

Review: THE BAD BOYS OF THEATRE are Not Quite Right In The Head

The boys are back in town!

By Meg Richardson

John Frankland and Andrew Strano are the Bad Boys of Music Theatre. And these well dressed, so called “Bad Boys” are back with their second full-length cabaret.

While their show last year declared their undying “bromance”, the boys have delved deeper into their psyches in this year’s show to explore psychological issues that are often found in the showbiz industry such as upstaging, narcissism, identity issues and many more.

This hour-long comedic cabaret has Andrew trying to help John to solve his crippling social anxiety by convincing him that he is a qualified psychiatrist. The audience is then taken on a journey of hypnosis, confessions and stories of daddy issues, childhood bullying and other would-be-sensitive issues of both John and Andrew’s pasts that have been stripped naked in the most jocular of ways. (We also see John literally stripped during the performance).

John and Andrew have a dynamic chemistry on stage that is apparent from the very beginning of the performance  with Andrew’s manic energy and lanky physical comedy balanced perfectly with John’s firmer, drier (and considerably shorter) comic stance.

With a clever blend of silly banter, re-worded cover songs, original numbers and multi-media, these two men have created a pace that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.  The boys cover artists ranging from Queen to (a rather large dedication to) Justin Bieber so there is something for almost any age group throughout the performance.

The multi-media arrangement of sound and video was near flawless and the cheesy, OTT pre recordings added an atmosphere to the show that couldn’t have been created on stage alone. Among these recordings were mock-up music video clips, television drama clips and a view into the human subconscious which had the audience laughing, singing and dancing along.

On top of all this, the duo have compiled a number of original songs that showcase their not only their hilarious writing ability, but their excellent vocal talent. They have also utilized their pianist, Lachlan – for more than just a few punch lines, but also as a vocal accompanist to add further levels to their already smooth, well blended harmonies.

The pair make a dynamic team and their newest production is really a delight to watch. They may not be “quite right in the head” but this performance is quite right in almost every way.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran VIC 3181
Dates: 28 March- 1st April
Times: Wed-Sun 7:30pm, Thurs, Sat & Sun 2pm
Tickets: $25 Full, $20 Concession
Bookings: (03) 8290 7000, www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

REVIEW: The Bad Boys of Music Theatre are A FINE BROMANCE

Classic, charismatic and campy good fun!

By Kim Edwards

There were tech problems, the show went up late, and a Sunday night crowd were initially unreceptive. But Andrew Strano and John Frankland ( in order of appearance, lads) worked their considerable charm and won over their audience with aplomb.

Think the Rat Pack meets Lano and Woodley. The Bad Boys are all about on-stage dynamic and the banter is brisk and boisterous. The show itself hinges on the hilarity and harmonics of their (denied) homoerotic relationship: it’s a testament to the lovability of the characters and their love/hate/show-tune chemistry that they even got some ‘aws’ among the laughs as they expounded the perils of bromantic guy love.

Strano’s loud lanky comedy is both cute and clownish. His pace is feverish and his energy frenetic, while Frankland plays the – er – straight man, offering a more subtle and natural comic timing and tone. Last night some glib patter drowned out key jokes with premature reactions, and a few bawdy jokes missed their mark, but it was obvious this was well-tuned material that any other night would chime resoundingly.

Accompanied by the ever-versatile Trevor Jones at the piano and some fun multimedia, the Bad Boys did wonderfully bad and witty things to music theatre lyrics (including their own original song Amazing which you can find on Itunes) and best yet, these guys can really sing. Great warmth of sound together, and their harmonies were lovely as a counterpoint to snappy self-conscious jokes and the tales of their rambunctious relationship.

It’s a familiar formula, but the Bad Boys of Music Theatre hit all the right notes in the classic two-hander cabaret comedy-style. With their brand of sleek slapstick humour and their musical bro-etry, it’s clear these two boys were simply and bromantically meant to be together. Catch them for their last week of their Melbourne International Comedy festival season!

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Dates: 31st March – 23rd April
Tickets: $25*, Tight Arse Tuesdays $17.50* (*plus transaction fee)
Times: 10:15pm, Sun & Mon 10pm
Bookings: (03) 8290 7000, www.chapeloffchapel.com.au