Tag: Jack Earle

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.

Kurt Phelan is PHELAN GROOVY

Pacy, playful and exceedingly entertaining

By Jessica Cornish

A little bit of drag, a little bit of Liberal-bashing, a sprinkle of Aussie pop and some good old musical theatre as packaged and presented by charismatic Kurt Phelan was an hour well spent this week at The Butterfly Club.

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Growing up in far north Queensland in the town of Townsville, Kurt moved down to Sydney as a talented young man to pursue his career in the arts. And clearly he’s done well for himself in the industry and on the stage, being cast in multiple professional musicals such as Dirty Dancing and Singing In The Rain, and even having a stint in Disney Land playing Prince Charming, appropriately fitted with brown contact lenses and all, to truly channel the part.

The NIDA grad has a beautiful voice with impressive vocal technique and control, transitioning with ease from falsetto to chest voice and consistently used good articulation so every word was easily understood, never once being lost amidst the punchy piano accompaniment. Squeezed into the hour-show were a lot of well-chosen upbeat songs, that seamlessly flowed with the dialogue and mood from one scene to the next. The cabaret also incorporated story snippets of personal experiences with musical theatre greats such as Jason Robert Brown, Rhonda Birchmore and Todd McKenney (which my fellow musical theatre buffs would appreciate), as well as touching briefly on more serious issues dealing with the premature loss of friends and also exposing performers for the people they really are rather than merely as their stage personas being presented to the world.

Phelan was supported by his excellent pianist Jack Earle, the dialogue and banter was well-rehearsed and structured, subtle light changes in the venue were able to nicely augment the changing moods of the piece, and the night ended with some fabulous crowd karaoke – so what more could you want?!

Phelan Groovy was a lot of fun, and charming Phelan didn’t take himself too seriously. His current season at The Butterfly Club has unfortunately ended, but when he returns (which we hope he does), you should definitely go check it out.