Tag: Emily Langridge

Review: Amazing Grace, New York New York

A dazzling, electrifying and vocal soaring production

By Sebastian Purcell

Amazing Grace New York, New York, directed by Karen Jemison, is the second iteration in succeeding to bring calisthenics and musical theatre together as one spectacular, dazzling, electrifying and vocal soaring production.

This is 90 minutes of pure Broadway hits masterfully performed by a tight on stage orchestra, led superbly by music director and orchestrator Jack Earle, while 41 of the top National, State and Royal South Street calisthenics title holders and top musical theatre performers sing and dance their hearts out.

While this played out more as a musical review than a cohesive show, everyone was given a number to shine in. Choreographers Jeanne Sorich, Lucinda Williams and Sue-Ellen Shook should be applauded for creating tight, visually appealing, energetic, vibrant routines that successfully incorporate jazz, tap, ballet, musical theatre and calisthenic routines.

Jemison’s costume designs are bold and pure quality. Each number has its own distinct costume, supporting the ravishing colour and movement on stage. A personal favourite of mine was the individual coloured dresses in Put on Your Sunday Clothes as everyone lined up resembling a wonderful rainbow.

The technical aspects of the show were smooth, the lighting design by Jason Bovaird  was clever, dynamic and slick, complementing each scene and supporting seamless transitions between numbers. Equally the sound design (Marcello Lo Ricco, Josh Mattiell) was crisp, clear and rich.

Nigel Huckle, Emily Langridge, Thomas McGuane, Alexis van Maanen and Stephanie Wall deliver standout performances and, in some instances, overshadow the rest of the cast with sublime vocals and emotionally connected performances. In particular stand out songs include Just Keep Moving the Line (Smash), A Musical (Something Rotten), One Perfect Moment (Bring It On), One (A Chorus Line), and She Used to be Mine (Waitress). The only critique is that I would have preferred the routine from You Walk with Me to be performed to She Used to be Mine for a simpler, softer, more emotional effect.

The strength, flexibility, coordination, and synchronicity from all the performers is remarkable and you can see the passion and enjoyment they each have for their craft. The encore performance of The Greatest Showman was a fitting end to what was a quality evening of entertainment.

Amazing Grace, New York New York plays at the National Theatre, St Kilda Jan 31 – February 2, 2020.

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/