These small issues aside, this is a strong debut from the emerging company with a challenging and immensely satisfying piece that should be a ‘must see’ for all Melbourne music theatre enthusiasts!
Welcome to the 60s…
By Maxine Montgomery
Flowerchildren traces the ups and downs of 60s group The Mamas and The Papas, and recaptures the freedom of an era along the way. This new musical is an engaging journey through the pivotal moments and inner dynamics in the life of the group.
Writer Peter Fitzpatrick has crafted a show that captures all of the success, betrayal, passion and regret experienced by the four singers. The narration element is used well to allow each character to express their take on a particular happening, and then to fit into the scene described.
The central cast were remarkable. Each is a fabulous singer in his/her own right – combined, they created the iconic sound and tight harmonies of The Mamas and The Papas flawlessly. Casey Donovan as Mama Cass was quite the surprise of the evening. I was in no doubt that she could sing the role, but it was fabulous to see her more than hold her own in the company of three seasoned performers. Donovan’s comic timing was apparent (she had the line of the night – I will never again see a muumuu in quite the same way!) and also her ability to give gravitas and commitment to the more heartbreaking moments.
Matt Hetherington was brilliant as Papa John. He gave the role all the charisma and edge required to bring the songwriter to life. His rendition of “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers)” was, for me, a highlight of the night – his vocals gave the piece sweetness and desperation all at once.
Dan Humphris, as Papa Denny, has a beautiful voice with great range and the technique to use it to his best advantage. I particularly enjoyed the scenes he shared with Papa John – it is clear that the actors have a close camaraderie as this came through on stage. Laura Fitzpatrick as Mama Michelle was perfectly cast as the woman every man wanted. Her final monologue was moving and very affecting.
Mention must go to Jessica Featherby as Jill – she was the right mix of perky and whiny that made you love to hate her.
The set, designed by Christina Logan-Bell, is simple and uncluttered. It meant that the focus was on the actors instead of involved scene changes. Sophie Thomas leads a small, tight band which complements the singers very well.
Flowerchildren is worthy of a very successful premiere season – great music and strong performances put it in the ‘must-see’ category. The season runs till September 10th so get down to Theatre Works in St Kilda for a trip to the 60s.
Tickets available through www.theatreworks.org.au