Tag: Jaz Flowers

Melbourne 2016: WE WILL ROCK YOU

Yes, they will

By Jessica Cornish

In true Melbourne style, the first evening of Spring was ushered in by cold wind and rain, but this was no deterrent to the buzzing opening night crowd of We Will Rock You at the Regent Theatre. The show was incredibly vibrant, energetic and visually spectacular.

We Will Rock You.jpg

We Will Rock You utilises the well-known music of Queen to tell the quirky story of a society that is becoming more and more virtual, with the looming presence of Global Soft trying their best to stamp out all forms of bohemian life and of course the dreaded music of rock and roll. Despite the evil corporation’s best efforts, a small group of rebels strive for a world reunited through classic British rock.

Director Ben Elton, musical director Dave Skelton and choreographer Arlene Phillips combined forces to create a powerhouse production team. This creative strength was further complimented by a mesmerising lighting design by Willie Williams and excellent scenic design by Mark Fisher as the entire show being incredibly punchy and dynamic owed much to a set and lighting rig that was constantly moving. Box truss, LED screens and scaffolding flew in and out throughout the evening and the lighting rig was robust and well-planned. The show was consistently visually exciting and the stage looked stunning: there was even some pyro and confetti thrown into the mix, so no complaints here.

Bobby Aitken’s sound design was forceful, clear and generally well balanced. A couple of times the female vocals were drowned out in the mix by their male counterparts, although this could also be in part due to the challenging low vocal range the female performers were required to perform in the occasional bottom-heavy (pun intended) Queen songs.

Equally strong were the lead cast members and ensemble. They were all terrific triple-threat performers that were on the ball all night. Relative musical-theatre newcomer female lead Erin Clare (Scaramouche) sang beautifully and seemed to slip effortlessly in to the rebellious role. However, I felt her male counterpart Gareth Keegan (Galileo) lacked a contemporary edge to his performance which made him seem slightly wooden and not as believable as the dreamy love interest. Other leads, Jaz Flowers (Oz) and her muscly counterpart Thern Reynolds (Brit) did not miss a beat and were a pleasure to watch. Every movement and note was perfectly executed. Former 80’s rocker Brian Mannix (Buddy) was well received by the crowd and performed well however it was the former Australian Idol champion Casey Donovan who stole the show. She was – hands down – the standout performer of the evening as the glorious Killer Queen. She was charismatic and demanded attention every moment she was on stage. She gave an incredibly strong performance, and I couldn’t take my eyes off this bodacious babe, particularly in her rendition of fat bottomed girls framed by an array of women in leather and pink feather dusters.

We Will Rock You does not disappoint. It is a great starting point into the world of theatre, especially for the younger audience and of course all those with a love for Queen, and an impressively dynamic show that is both well-polished and well-executed. How can you pass this up?!





Image by Jeff Busby

REVIEW: 2013 Australian Tour of HOT SHOE SHUFFLE

Tap into this!

By Christine Moffat

The story of Hot Shoe Shuffle, in essence, is of the seven ‘Tap Brothers’ who are called to New York for the reading of their father’s will and to meet April, their long-lost sister.  To gain their inheritance, they must recreate their father’s famous act ‘The Hot Shoe Shuffle’, and it must include the dance-challenged April.

Hot Shoe Shuffle

Hot Shoe Shuffle is an original Australian show, but created in the form of an old-time movie musical, and the current season at Her Majesty’s Theatre is the 21st anniversary production.  Despite the show’s classic format, it is hard to believe it was written two decades ago, as it has all the vibrancy and energy of a debut season.

The first half of the show is like tutti-frutti icecream: a brightly coloured sugar-rush of comedy, condensed plot twists, slapstick humour, great music and dynamic tap numbers.  The second half, mainly the famous review act ‘The Hot Show Shuffle’, is like champagne sorbet.  It is elegant, ritzy, and jam-packed with dance routines reminiscent of a black-and-white Fred Astaire film.

The score is a who’s who of timeless composers, including songs from Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ira Gershwin and Peter Allen.  The costumes for this production by Janet E Hine are a master class in what wonderful costuming can bring to a show, contributing to creating and developing the characters before our eyes.  And the choreography (David Atkins, Dein Perry, Drew Anthony) showcases the versatility of tap, including routines that were romantic, drop-dead glamorous and a sensational drunken dance by the brothers.

Jaz Flowers as April is reminiscent of a young Lucille Ball, using comedy, sex appeal and her knockout voice to full advantage.  Bobby Fox as Spring is surprisingly funny, vulnerable, almost accidentally charming, and refreshingly different to a stereotypical ‘leading man’.

David Atkins (also producer and director) makes a classy transition from his role as Spring in original production to wise mentor/slave-driver Max in this run, and yes, he can definitely still dance!  All of the cast are excellent dancers and their dance solos were fantastic, but stand-out performances includded Morgan Junor-Larwood as the gung-ho Slap and Mason Schaube as the adorable, but a bit slow on the uptake Slide.

The level of entertainment and fun in this show is phenomenal.  At the preview the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation.  A word of caution though – The Hot Shoe Shuffle is infectious: if you see the show, you may feel compelled to take tap lessons…

Melbourne dates: Aug 12 – Sept 8

Show times: Tues 1pm/ Wed 1pm & 8pm/ Thurs & Fri 8pm/ Sat 2pm & 8pm/ Sun 3pm

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, 219 Exhibition St

Tickets: Premium from $110*/ A Reserve from $89*/ Groups 10+ from $69*/ Family from $276*/ Schools/Dance Schools groups 10+ $50* *(*booking fees apply)

Bookings: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=HOTSHOE13

Official website: www.hotshoeshuffle.com