Tag: David Peake

REVIEW: Impromptunes Presents PUPPETS! THE MUSICAL

This puppet show for grown-ups will have you in stitches!

By Claire de Freitas

The idea of being entertained by cheeky singing puppets is not an entirely new concept (who can forget the Tony Award-winning puppet musical Avenue Q?) but the Impromptunes have taken the puppet musicals to a whole new level. There’s no script, there’s no score, there’s not even set characters. In this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, the Impromptunes are presenting Puppets! The Musical – a completely improvised musical with puppets!

Puppets! The Musical

Although the audience was small the night I attended, the troupe of five talented performers had energy in bucketloads. From the moment they came bouncing onto the stage, puppets in tow, I knew they were committed to their craft and we were in for a good night.

To prove that the musical is completely improvised each night, the audience was asked to provide its name. We were given three beats to think of a title and then asked to shout out our ideas in unison. The winning title this evening was ‘The Dangerous Egg.’

Without even taking a moment to brainstorm, the cast began to construct a song and talented pianist David Peake began to accompany them. As the song continued, the cast selected puppet friends from the back of the stage and began to create characters.

For many people (myself included) the idea of improvising a musical is pretty terrifying. I have so much respect for how swiftly and wittily the cast created the characters, scenes and songs, all the while operating puppets and syncing the words with the puppets’ mouths PERFECTLY!

As is often the case with improvisational shows, the story got pretty crazy very quickly. In short, ‘The Dangerous Egg’ ended-up being about a young man named Jeremy who joins the Navy to escape his dull farm life and is put on a mission to rescue the last remaining dinosaur egg from the Nazis. Yep, told you it got pretty crazy.

It’s a well-known rule of improvisational theatre that performers need to always say “yes” to each others’ offers and the Impromptunes in Puppets! The Musical are experts in this. It was amazing to watch how the performers communicated ideas with each other without speaking about them and followed each others’ leads.

If you want to see something funny and fresh for Melbourne Fringe Festival 2015, you don’t want to miss Puppets! The Musical.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne.
Season: Until 4th October | Wednesday – Sunday 7:00pm
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Concession
Bookings: The Butterfly Club or Melbourne Fringe

REVIEW: Midsumma Festival’s THE BIG GAY CRUISE

All aboard this maritime musical

By Myron My

What could be more fun than a gay cruise? Nothing, according to engaged couple Alex and Ben and their best men, Stephen and Anthony, as they board a gay cruise ship for one final hoorah before their nuptials. Being performed as part of the 2015 Midsumma Festival, it’s fun, sexy and camp laughs in David Peake‘s original musical The Big Gay Cruise, directed by Leigh Barker and presented by Adam J. Lowe.

The Big Gay Cruise

With Alex and Ben (Brenton Cosier and Will Atkinson) soon to be married and their wedding day approaching, insecurities and fear are heightened for the characters. I would have loved to see more focus on this storyline in Peake’s script and an exploration of the secret that is revealed in the second act rather than splitting off to various sideline stories for the support cast. These characters may have had some genuinely funny moments, but I was not as emotionally invested in their story as I was about Alex and Ben’s. I felt more focus on the central couple would have kept the narrative more entertaining, with a stronger pay-off at the end.

The impact of the music raises a similar issue, with many songs not progressing the story, and creating the impression they are mostly filler, such as “The Locker Room” and “My Suite”. Despite being saddled with these unnecessary numbers, most of the cast are strong singers and do exceptionally well with their solo songs. Cosier in particular does an exemplary job when singing, and seems to be in his element during these moments.

The funniest part of The Big Gay Cruise would belong to Ben Paine as the sexually adventurous Anthony, and his song “Strength Inside of Me”, which Paine performs with great comedic expression and timing. However, it is Samuel Kitchen as Stephen who steals the show with “That Happy,” his emotional song of love lost and missed opportunities. This is where Peake’s songwriting skills excel, alongside other striking numbers about life and love such as “There’s A Boy” and “Just A Little Bit”.

Overall, there is little clarity on whose story this is, and thus the relationship between the audience and the inferred “hero” of this musical, Alex, needs to be strengthened. The Big Gay Cruise definitely has enough laughs and a committed cast to prevent this ship from sinking but the script and score do require more fine-tuning.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.
Season: Until 1 February | Tues – Sat 7:30pm, Sat 3pm, Sun 6pm
Tickets: $39 Full | $35 Concession
Bookings: www.midsumma.org.au, http://www.theatreworks.org.au, or 9534 3388