Tag: Debora Krizak

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: Opera Australia and John Frost Present ANYTHING GOES

This production is oh so easy to love…

By Amy Planner

This Cole Porter theatre classic has smashed audience expectations with its all-singing, all-tap-dancing stage spectacular. Bursting with maritime hilarity and whimsical choreography is the latest production of the stupendous Anything Goes.

Anything Goes

When the ocean liner SS America sets off from New York to London with a few lovers, a night club evangelist and a couple of criminals on board, anything goes! This group of unlikely travellers set off in search of the ultimate destiny, true love; but who can find true love without a little help from a bunch of singing sailors and a little criminal activity?

Caroline O’Connor should be marvelled at for her audacious performance as Reno Sweeney, the club performer moonlighting as an all-hailing all-saving evangelist. O’Connor brought the house down with her slapstick humour, formidable voice and step-perfect dance routines.

Todd McKenney was almost unrecognisable as the seemingly pompous but all-round fun loving, Lord Evelyn Oakley. His outrageous wig and goofy demeanour made for a truly amusing performance, and when McKenney’s dancing there’s nowhere else you can look.

Other more than notable performances included the criminally hilarious Wayne Scott Kermond as Moonface Martin, the suave and charming Alex Rathgeber as Billy Crocker, the seductive yet comical Debora Krizak as Erma and of course Gerry Connolly and Josh Gates as The Captain and Purser.

The large ensemble cast was brilliantly talented and each performer just as entertaining as the next; any one of them could have danced alone on the stage under a single spotlight for two hours and the audience would never complain.

From the glorious gowns of the pre-show on-stage bar mingling to the effortless poolside swing shorts, the costumes were impeccable. Dale Ferguson had such a theatrical and applaudable vision for this Broadway classic despite countless productions before it. Visually this cast would stand out from any revival; the team deserves huge amounts of praise for their nautical flair.

Unique choreography by Andrew Hallsworth paired with this impressive cast has resulted in good honest entertainment that leaves you clapping after every toe tap. Musical Director Peter Casey delighted with a truly refreshing and soulful interpretation of Cole Porter’s most wonderful songs.

Opening night had a couple of lengthy scene crosses and a lost line or two but it took nothing away from this production, receiving a standing ovation that demanded several bows. Be amazed by the spectacular nautical explosion that is Anything Goes. You’ll get a kick out of this one.

Venue: Princess Theatre, Spring Street, Melbourne
Season: Until 119 July, Tues/Wed 1pm, Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 3pm.
Tickets: From $50.54
Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com or www.anythinggoesmusical.com.au

Image By Jeff Busby

REVIEW: Luckiest Productions Presents SWEET CHARITY

Your friends should see this now

By Bradley Storer

Luckiest Productions’ Sweet Charity has made its way to Melbourne after successful sell-out seasons in Sydney and Canberra. This Helpmann Award-winning production more than lives up to expectations with a dark revisionist exploration of this Broadway classic.

Sweet Charity 2015 photo Jeff Busby_2

Verity Hunter-Ballad in the title role of Charity Hope Valentine brings a refreshing touch of normality and relatability. The audience is always aware, beneath the zany and perky exterior, of the real flesh and blood human that Charity is. She also dances up a storm and brings exquisite vocal mastery to all of Charity’s songs, unleashing a full-throttle and soul-rending performance in the despairing ‘Where Am I Going?’. Martin Crewes shows surprising versatility as the various men in Charity’s life – at first showing seductive charm and gallantry as the charismatic Italian movie star Vittorio Vidal, then later morphing into the neurotic but lovable Oscar Lindquist, with a similar vocal transformation from operatic tenor to contemporary character singing.

The bare-bones production, under the direction of Dean Bryant, is unafraid to show the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of this seemingly comedic musical. The female ensemble are depicted closer to the prostitutes of Fellini’s original film than the taxi dancers of the Broadway musical, stuck in an eternal cycle of degradation and poverty that they’ve given up on escaping – most touchingly rendered in Nickie (Debora Krizak) and Helene (Kate Cole)’s by turns cynical and hopeful duet ‘Baby, Dream Your Dream’. Even Charity’s Act One comedic tour de force, ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’, is performed in a single light surrounded by darkness, as if suggesting the continual threat of the despair kept at bay by Charity’s hopefulness and optimism.

Cy Coleman’s classic Broadway score and Bob Fosse’s signature choreography are both thrillingly modified here to service the new production – new arrangements of music bring in such contemporary sounds as electric guitar, drums and synthesizer that drastically shift the feel of Coleman’s music to the modern. The famous ‘Hey Big Spender’ becomes less of a brassy Broadway belter and more like the guttural, dirty rock music of a strip club in the early hours. The ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ is transformed through the wonderfully imaginative choreography of Andrew Hallsworth into an angular and frenetic vision of a hideously modern New York party, and the psychedelic hippy celebration of ‘The Rhythm of Life’ into a rock-gospel revivalist meeting that sees most of the cast naked by the end.

The most drastic change is the very last scene, stripping away any pretensions to Broadway brightness with Hunter-Ballad’s achingly vulnerable and raw performance and an ending so shocking and unexpected that it leaves the audience dumb-founded. Such a dark and revelatory vision of a classic Broadway musical make this production of Sweet Charity a must see!

Venue: The Playhouse, Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.

Dates: 25th February – 7th March

Times: WednesdaySaturday 8pm, Tuesday 7pm,  Matinees: Thursday 26 February, 1pm, Saturday 28 February, 2pm, Sunday 1 March, 3pm, Saturday 7 March, 2pm

Tickets: Tickets from $79.90, Under 30s concession pricing $30

Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au, 1300 182 183, at the box office.

Image by Jeff Busby