Tag: Chelsea Gibb

David M. Hawkins Presents CABARET: THE MUSICAL

Go like Elsie

By Bradley Storer

This production of Kander and Ebb’s Broadway classic Cabaret, opening in Melbourne after a sold-out Sydney season, left me with incredibly mixed feelings – a collection of fantastic elements that never quite coalesces into a satisfying whole. The set, itself a stylized stage surrounded by nightclub seating that neatly blends into the first few rows of the Athenaeum Theatre, suggests a blurring of the line between performance and reality but this is never capitalized on in the show itself. For a musical that should seem eerily relatable in our current political climate, it never becomes quite clear what message this production is trying to deliver.

cabaret-the-musical-chelsea-gibb-sally-bowles.jpg

Australian cabaret and theatre legend Paul Capsis easily inhabits the role of the Emcee, here depicted like a grotesque ventriloquist’s dummy, and even though he spends most of the evening onstage watching and occasionally assisting in the action he feels oddly under-utilized – darting in and out of scenes, it feels as though we are never given the chance to savor and drink in Capsis’ unique stage presence.

As the central character Cliff Bradshaw, Jason Kos does a fine job in the first act of delineating the character’s stiffness melting away into sexual awakening but his performance became oddly disjointed and robotic towards the climax of the musical which robbed the more tragic moments of any poignancy. In contrast, Chelsea Gibb as Sally Bowles gives one of the best performances of her career, finding the desperation and insecurity lurking under the flightiness and affected ‘little girl’-ishness that Sally constantly projects as a way of escaping her problems. Even as she flees from reality and responsibility, you feel incredibly sorry for her.

The supporting cast as a whole are wonderful. Kate Fitzpatrick and John O’May as the elderly Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schulz had a lovely chemistry, making their ill-fated romance all the more heart-breaking. Deborak Krizak as Fraulein Kost brings her un-erring physical comic chops, and in the final scene even manages to bring a tragic dimension to the character’s fate. The ensemble execute Kelley Abbey’s choreography with ghoulish panache and deliver strong performances in small cameos throughout the show.

Sound issues plagued the entire performance I attended, with a few missed cues and microphones randomly switching off, which would be understandable on opening night – but immediately before she could start singing the title number of the show, Gibb’s microphone completely cut out. She was forced, with the loving insistence of the onstage Capsis and an off-stage yell from director Gale Edwards, to leave the stage completely mid-performance to have her microphone replaced. Capsis sweetly vamped onstage for time before he was given the cue to re-introduce Gibbs onstage, to overwhelming and supportive applause from the audience.  When Gibbs began her number again, the sound issues continued with wash-over from other mics backstage coming through – nevertheless, Gibbs rose above circumstance and knocked the ball out of the park with a performance of the titular song ‘Cabaret’ that not only demolished the hearts of the audience but, astonishingly, even managed to banish any memory of Liza Minnelli’s iconic rendition. It was one of the most electrifying moments I’ve ever experienced in the theatre, and generated a mid-show (and well-deserved) standing ovation.

While the production itself does not always rise to meet such lofty standards, theatre-goers should rush to see this performance for the ages!

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne

Dates: 27th April – 20th May

Times: Monday – Saturday 7:30pm, Matinees Wednesday 1pm Saturday 2pm

Tickets: ticketek.com.au, Ticketek outlets or at the venue.

Image by John McCrae

REVIEW: Ghost Light and Moving Light Productions’ CARRIE: THE MUSICAL

Things will get bloody…

By Margaret Wieringa

Initially, the tale known by most as a horror film from the seventies seems like an odd choice for a musical. But, at the heart of Stephen King’s novel Carrie is the story of a girl who is oppressed by her mother and tormented by her peers until she breaks. The twist, as most people know, is that she has telekinetic powers, and wreaks a brutal revenge of those who have hurt her. Carrie: The Musical deals a story so epic it could have been an opera.

Carrie The Musical

The show begins with a musical number that shows off the talents of the strong supporting cast. The busy and eye-catching choreography by Lisa Minett draws the audience into the world of the musical as well as the angst of high school. When Emily Milledge enters, she brings all of the awkward misfit elements of Carrie and even when the beautiful swan emerges, she retains a hint of the fearful girl within. The duets between Carrie and her mother, played by Chelsea Gibb, are intense and passionate. It really is a cast of strong female performers, with Chernae Howlett also capturing the deep nastiness of Chris Hargensen as she manipulates those around her, and sets out to ruin Carrie’s life.

The stand-out performance, however, came from Hollie James as Sue Snell. Easily able to hold the stage on her own, she showed all the poignant sweetness and kindness the character required. Her duet with Jack O’Riley playing Billy Ross at the start of the second act was delightful.

Clearly, it was going to be a challenge to have objects flying around and the utter destruction of a whole town shown on stage – especially the small stage at Chapel Off Chapel. However, director Terence O’Connell and his excellent production crew really make a little go a long way. While the explosive scene at the prom is quite short, the combination of the sound and lighting with clever choreography gave it the intensity to be extremely effective. The solid musical accompaniment of the band helmed by David Piper allowed the cast to shine throughout, especially during this dramatic finale.

Carrie: The Musical is the debut production for Ghost Light, a company that aims to present premieres of musicals locally, as well as creating new musical and physical theatre. They have certainly started with a bang, and will be worth keeping an eye on.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel,
Season: 25 September – 12 October, Wednesday – Saturday 8pm, Saturday matinee 4th and 11th October 2pm, Wednesday matinee 8th October 1pm, Sunday 6pm
Tickets: $49.50 Full, $39.50 Concession and groups of 10+
Bookings: http://chapeloffchapel.com.au/

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/