Tag: Brent Hill

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS 2016 Australian Tour

Merrily macabre and highly enjoyable

By Ross Larkin

A highly experienced pool of theatre royalty has taken on the ambitious task of staging a touring production of musical cult favourite, Little Shop of Horrors, which opened last night at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre. Thankfully, their obvious efforts have largely paid off.

Brent Hill, Audrey II 02 LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS  - PHOTO CREDIT JEFF BUSBY.jpg

Based on the quirky 1960 film by Roger Corman of the same name, Little Shop is a rare example of classic screen translating to the stage almost seamlessly, and at times, with superior effect, largely thanks to the tenderly appealing tunes of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (ably musically directed here by Andrew Worboys).

Virtually entirely set in a failing, divey florist in urban Skid Row, goofy employee Seymour Krelborn acquires a strange breed of plant during a full eclipse, which he christens Audrey II (named after his colleague with whom he is romantically enamoured). Seymour soon discovers Audrey II can not only speak to him, but also requires a diet solely of human blood in order to survive. Seymour begins to attract media attention and fame as the intriguingly disconcerting Audrey II grows bigger and bigger while locals simultaneously disappear mysteriously…

Esther Hannaford, of King Kong fame, steals the show as Seymour’s love interest, Audrey. Her understated, eccentric and loveable performance is coupled with powerhouse vocals of seemingly effortless range. Brent Hill as Seymour, and also the voice of Audrey II, gave a solid performance, as did supporting actors Angelique Cassimatis, Josie Lane and Chloe Zuel as Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette respectively.

The ever-growing, oversized fly trap that became Audrey II was extremely impressively created by puppet-makers Erth and manipulated with a cleverness that must be seen in order to be believed. Accomplished director Dean Bryant has, on this occasion, excelled. Bringing a small cast and this massive puppet into force with enjoyable laughs and great songs, Bryant’s direction both visually and content-wise is innovative and satisfying.

Although the energy of some cast members did waiver on occasion, no doubt the pace and punch will pick up for the entire ensemble as the run progresses. Overall, this a strongly recommended feast of sinister fun and entertaining black comedy.

Presented by Luckiest Productions and Tinderbox Productions, Little Shop of Horrors is playing now at the Comedy Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne until May 22nd with a variety of dates and showtimes. Go to http://www.littleshoptour.com.au/ for tickets and more information.

Image by Jess Busby

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REVIEW: DreamSong for MICF

Redemption is not at hand

By Narelle Wood

I like clever, witty, well-constructed comedy and unfortunately I found DreamSong to be absolutely none of these. While the premise of the show (a money-hungry evangelist constructing a second coming of Jesus) certainly had potential, what ensued was two hours of clichéd cheap shots at a whole range of issues, religions and minorities that I felt were extremely offensive, and I’m not easily offended.

DreamSong

Pastor Richard Sunday (Ben Prendergast) has realised his church is in financial peril, and along with the help of his wife Whitney (Chelsea Gibb), the prime minster (Mike Mcleish), the prime minster’s advisor (Alana Tranter) and a wannabe actor (Connor Crawford), he stages a fraudulent resurrection of the son of God. Meanwhile the pastor’s daughter April (Emily Langridge) is trying to talk the real Jesus Christ (Brent Hill) out of a crisis of confidence. Prendergast certainly looked the part of evangelic preacher but his character lacked charisma and charm that was needed to make the deception believable. Evan Lever as Neville Gruber was fabulous as the eager-to-please church follower, but it was Hill’s portrayal of Jesus Christ that actually provided the only comical parts to the show: it was pity that his character had less than twenty minutes of stage time.

Author of DreamSong, Hugo Chiarella, seems unsure about what faction of society he takes issue with. His supposedly black comedy (in my opinion it’s rarely funny) about a non-specific church mocks soldiers dying in Afghanistan, the mentally disabled, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, abortions, people suffering and dying from AIDS, homosexuality, victims of paedophilia and animal cruelty. Excluding the cast, the one redeeming feature of this musical is in fact the music provided by Robert Tripolino. I can’t say I’m a fan or have that much knowledge of Christian pop, but the range and style of music seemed perfectly matched to the premise of the show.

Perhaps a warning at the show about the offensive content may have placated how offended I was, and this then may have enabled me to see beyond those cheap shots to a concept that is worth exploring and what attracted me to the show in the first place.

Venue: Theatre Works, St Kilda
Season: Tues-Sat at 7:30pm, Sat at 2:00pm, Sun at 5:00pm, until 20th April
Tickets: Full $35| Conc $30
Bookings: http://www.theatreworks.org.au/

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/