Tag: Mike Snell

REVIEW: StageArt Presents SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Step back in time!

By Deborah Langley

The date is 1976 and Brooklyn heart-throb Tony Manero is a young man with an extraordinary ability to dance. Stuck in a dead-end job he has only one ambition in life – to become the disco king.

Saurday Night Fever.jpg

StageArt’s West End revival production of Saturday Night Fever transports us to the heart of the disco era designed to make you want to jump out of your seat and start dancing!

Starring Mike Snell (Strictly Ballroom, Wicked, Legally Blonde, The Boy From Oz), Sheridan Anderson (West Side Story, Pippin, Our House) and Elise Brennan (Jersey Boys, Guys and Dolls) this production brings to the stage everything you loved about the movie, the music and the decade.

But, as director Robbie Carmellotti says, ‘It is easy to think of Saturday Night Fever as a fun night out with great Bee Gees hits’ – not this production, however. After a bubble-gum style Act 1 which has you moving and grooving, Act 2 reminds you that the 1970’s wasn’t just about great songs and fashion.This show also poignantly explores dark topics such as rape, suicide and racism with a punch that leaves you mesmerized.

Thus Bobby’s (Dean Schulz) version of “Tragedy” allowed me to really hear the words for the first time and be completed engrossed in the heartache which can strike any of us.

Other standout moments included Annette’s (Brennan) heartbreaking rendition of “If I Can’t Have You, I Don’t Want Nobody, Baby”, an amazing dance-off with stunning acrobatics during “You Should Be Dancing” and an exceptional STOMP-type version of “Boggy Shoes”.

The famous music really is the star of this show, musically directed by Tony Toppi, with outstanding choreography by Luke Alleva and a strong ensemble: in particular Alexia Brinsley, Cassie Miller, and Paul Watson (Once, Jersey Boys, Fiddler On The Roof) whose performance as DJ Monty was spot-on and his guitar-playing amazing. Ten more of the cast members brought music to the stage playing live instruments, but unfortunately on the night attended, many of these performances fell flat with poor sound quality – a huge distraction which undermined several numbers.

Nevertheless, this otherwise spectacular new production is a must-see for any fans of the film, the music or the era!

Saturday Night Fever, 11-28 February 2016 at Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran.

Times: Tuesday – Sunday, 7.30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 1.30pm matinee

Bookings:  8290 7000.  www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Image by Belinda Strodder photography

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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

REVIEW: Legally Blonde – The Musical

Omigod, you guys – Lucy Durack is the new pink!

By Kim Edwards

Appropriately playing at The Princess Theatre (that has enjoyed a facelift in pink lighting for the occasion), Legally Blonde – The Musical has opened in Melbourne. Based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy, Elle Woods, a beautiful blonde sorority girl from Malibu, is dumped by her boyfriend and decides following him into Harvard law is the only solution for winning him back. It’s fluffy, frivolous, decidedly fuchsia – and wonderfully good fun.

LEGALLY BLONDE key image (c) Brian Geach

Lucy Durack as Elle is simply effervescent: that beautiful lucid voice and irrepressible vivaciousness on stage is coupled with astute comic timing and delicate character nuances. The effect? Irresistible! Rob Mills does a sound job as Elle’s smarmy ex, Warner, and his song ‘Serious’ is a musical highlight. Cameron Daddo is svelte and smooth as predatory Professor Callahan, while Helen Dallimore comes into her own by the second act when she lets loose as Elle’s new best friend Paulette, and Mike Snell is uproariously funny in his cameo as sexy delivery man Kyle. However, it is David Harris who wins the most hearts as scruffy love interest Emmett Forrest: his disarming naturalism forms an appealing contrast to the high theatricality of the rest of the cast.

For this is definite musical comedy, from the cheer-leading dance moves and cute Barbie doll sets to the scene-stealing antics of Bruiser the purse puppy and Rufus the bulldog. Most of the changes made to get the movie onto the stage are admirable, with new topical jokes and witty lyrics: the opening number ‘Omigod You Guys’ and the cheeky ‘Is He Gay or European?’ are both hilarious and endearing. Less successful is the rather awful title song, the problematic implications of the infamous ‘bend and snap’ technique, and the rather silly plot developments in Act Two, whereby we are left wondering what Elle has actually accomplished for her career and her gender if the legal system and ‘real world’ outside of Delta Nu proves to be as ridiculous and sexist as sorority life.

However, these minor quibbles ultimately do not detract from the merits of this particular Australian production. Legally Blonde – The Musical is pretty in pink, joyously energising, and sparklingly funny. The costumes aren’t always as visually exciting as one might hope, but there is plenty of colour and spectacle, elegant and fluid scene changes, excellent character work from the rest of the cast – and Lucy Durack. Come prepared to fall a little bit in love with this show – and a lot in love with its leading lady.

Legally Blonde is now playing at The Princess Theatre in Melbourne. Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster or ph: 1300 111 011.