Tag: James Simpson

REVIEW: Twisted Broadway 2015

“Broadway in a Brand-New Key”

By Bradley Storer

Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDS brought together a stunning ensemble of Australian music-theatre talents last night for Twisted Broadway, a gender-bending re-interpretation of musical theatre’s greatest hits, to raise money for research and developmental programs for people living with HIV/AIDS. The sense of community and giving was palpable, all the performers and creative team donating their time and energy – even the set for the show was donated by The Production Company‘s current show Nice Work if You Can Get It.

2015 Twisted Broadway Hosts_Photo by Kayzar Bhathawalla

Kate Ceberano, one of the evening’s hosts, began the show as a literal MC – the classic character from Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, spiritedly singing ‘Wilkommen’ and showing some impressive high kicks as she introduced us to the ‘twisted’ male and female ensembles and the Twisted Broadway orchestra, under the direction of James Simpson. She was followed by the glorious tenors of Blake Bowden and Josh Piterman, both bringing lead man charisma to the Jekyll and Hyde duet ‘In His Eyes’, before fellow host Eddie Perfect joined Ceberano onstage to introduce the evening officially.

The first half of the show was dedicated mainly to ensemble numbers, highlights including a cheeky ‘Gee Officer Krupke’ by the female ensemble of West Side Story, a campy male version of ‘Make Him Mine’ by Ed Grey, Alex Given and Drew Weston, a bevy of showgirls accompanying Melissa Langton as she charmingly crooned ‘All I Care About is Love’, a trio of male Lion King ensemblists bringing Motown realness in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ all the way to Nathan Pinnell leading the ensemble of Anything Goes in a joyous ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’. A few choice solo performances were dotted throughout, Akina Edmonds‘ soulful take on the Schwartz classic ‘Lost in the Wilderness’ standing out in particular.

After a fantastic ensemble opening of ‘On Broadway’ choreographed by Michael Ralph, the second act brought spectacular solos from a variety of performers. Rob Mills hilariously sent himself up in a re-vamped version of the audition sequence ‘Climbing Uphill’ from The Last Five Years, Tom Sharah stole the show with his ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’, and Queenie van de Zandt brought the audience to their feet in a roof-raising ‘What Kind of a Fool Am I?’. Perfect debuted a charming song from his unseen musical version of the classic Australian film Muriel’s Wedding with help from Casey Bennetto, and the male ensemble delivered a testosterone-charged ‘Be Italian’ led by Mike Snell before Josie Lane closed the evening with a thunderous ‘Goodbye’.

Producers Michael Benge and Kate MacDonald informed the audience at the end of the show that over $50,000 had been raised for Oz Show Business Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, making a perfect end to this marvellous night of music theatre all done in the name of a good cause.

Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda, Melbourne.
Date: 17th August, 2015
Time: 8pm

http://www.twistedbroadway.com.au/

Image by Kayzar Bhathawalla
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REVIEW: Give My Regards To Broady

Trendy topical music theatre for all you Melbournites

By Bradley Storer

At the beginning of the show, the stage at Theatreworks is set up like the lounge room of a northern Melbourne share-house: strewn with the debris of the night before, accumulated mess, milk crate furniture and the bodies of several cast members.

Like the other work with which it shares the double-bill, Housewarming, Give My Regards To Broady is a musical dedicated to the mixed blessings and tribulations of youth through the experience of house-sharing.

The plot of Broady revolves around the daily lives and trials of a group of performing arts graduates all desperate for their big breaks and forced to find some way of co-existing peacefully. There’s Karin (Claire Healy), the lazy and poverty-stricken song-writer from Broadmeadows, her delightfully camp housemate and song-writing partner James (Leigh Jay Booth), a theatre-restaurant worker obsessed with celebrity networking, their friend Erin (Lauren Murtagh), a vainglorious South Melbourne heiress, and her ’accessory’ Luke (Joe Kosky). Lurking in the background is the rest of Karin’s housemates/backing band, with amusing interjections and intrusions from multi-instrumentalist Emma Muiznieks.

Broady is a love letter from its creators Karin Muiznieks and James Simpson, firstly to the enthusiasm and courage of young people who choose to work in the arts industry; when asked to compare her life with that of a Third-World child she sponsors, the character Karin counters ‘he doesn’t work in the arts!’.

Secondly to musical theatre itself, signalled by the posters of Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, Chicago and many other productions decorating the walls of the house. Muiznieks and Simpson play with standard musical tropes, amongst other things hilariously parodying the love duets of classic Broadway musicals and play out a wickedly vicious West Side Story-style scrag fight.

Lastly to the city of Melbourne itself, with songs devoted to topics like Melbourne Cup Day hook-ups, Crown Casino, half-built Ferris wheels – one song shows the characters trying to illustrate their relationships by comparing them to the qualities of different suburbs.

After a slow start, the show picks up strength and energy as soon as the first musical number appears. The four leads, under the direction of Scott Gooding, are all uniformly strong – the standouts are Murtagh and Kosky, who are given several moments to shine in numbers like ‘Erin’s Turn’ and the show finale. Healy and Booth ably handle the weight of keeping the show’s plot moving through several twists and turns with enthusiasm and flair. Give My Regards to Broady is an uproarious night at the theatre for music theatre lovers,  Melbournites who love their local references and for anyone in general who enjoys a good laugh.

Dates: 28 Nov – Dec 10 at Theatre Works, St Kilda
Times: Nov 30 to Dec 3 at 7:00pm / Dec 5-10 at 8:45pm