Tag: Olivia Charalambous

Vic Theatre Company Presents THE GATHERING

Plenty of charm and intrigue in new Australian musical

By Rebecca Waese

Vic Theatre Company’s The Gathering, directed by Chris Parker, is an original Australian musical about friendship, love and loss inspired by the spirit of the Millennial generation. A group of twenty-somethings reunite in a haunted house to see their friend Tom (Joel Granger) who has surfaced after five years. When Tom runs away again, the friends stand by one another, (think of an Australian Rent meets Scooby-doo and the gang), and Tom begins to emerge from the shadows of his mysterious past.

The Gathering (James Terry Photography).jpg

There is plenty to applaud in this production (with book, music and lyrics by Will Hannagan and Belinda Jenkin) and in this company of young performers who are promising, self-possessed and leave their hearts on the stage. Outstanding vocals are delivered by Luke (Daniel Assetta), playing the camp best friend of Tom’s foster sister Kelly, (Shannen Alyce Quan), who is another strong talent to watch. Quan shows power and vulnerability in “Sweet December Feelings” with subtle and nostalgic references to the particular qualities of an Australian summer. Daisy, (Hannah Sullivan McInervey), shines in her solo, “Hair So Long” and Sullivan McInvervy’s voice brings a refreshing and unexpected Missy Higgins-type quality to the ensemble.

The vocals, however, under the musical direction of Daniel Puckey, are far superior to some of the lyrics, and there are a few weak plot points in the show. A handful of too-obvious rhymes calls out for the guiding hand of an experienced dramaturg. Yet, the open spirit of the young company made me forgive some of the clangers and the performers did well to shroud them with humour and ironic deliveries. Luke’s memorable line to Kelly, “I apologize profusely/ by making you muesli,” struck a playful note as the friends negotiated their path to adulthood amidst the chaos that growing up and apart brings.

There is some enjoyable comic work by Mia (Olivia Charalambous), and a compelling dramatic moment when Tom asks why Luke didn’t help him when he needed it most. Heartbroken Joe (Daniel Cosgrove) was delightful when Daisy’s line, “we’re on a break”, lead to a sudden realisation.

The Gathering captures a sense of the moment today for young Australians out in the world, released from share-houses and uni and beginning to make their way as adults. The big company numbers are exuberant with “Never Ever” re-living the classic drinking game, “Haunted” lit by Iphone-wielding ghost-busters, and “A Different Kind of Love” bringing resolution to Tom and his friends as harmonies fill the space. There is a distinct sense of Australian place in this musical, which, despite some awkward lyrics and plot holes, speaks openheartedly and with comic self-awareness of this moment in time for the Millennial generation. Whether this is your tribe or you want to eavesdrop on their moment, The Gathering is uplifting and has much to offer.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season:
Nov 30 Dec, 2, 6, 8, 11, 7.30pm
Nov 26, 4pm, Dec 3,10, 8.30pm
Nov 27, Dec 4, 3pm

Tickets: $38 – $42

Bookings: 03 9662 9966 or online

Image by James Terry Photography

Rebecca Waese is a Lecturer in Creative Arts and English at La Trobe University.

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Doorstep Arts Presents DOGFIGHT

Brave cast and company grapple with Pasek and Paul musical

By Myron My

Dogfight, based on the 1991 River Phoenix film, revolves around the actions of three marines on their final night in a small town in 1963, just before they are to be deployed to Okinawa, and then on to Vietnam. While the trio come from seemingly similar backgrounds, they are friends bound by circumstances of war. Over the course of this night, these bonds are tested, especially when Eddie meets the naive and innocent Rose.

Dogfight.jpg

The original production of Dogfight, with book by Peter Duchan, premiered in New York in 2012 and won the Lucille Lortel Outstanding Music Award as well as being nominated for a number of others. However, so much of the show feels outdated, and unfortunately there is nothing new or especially engaging being offered by this story – whereupon even those who are not familiar with the film itself can see exactly how things are going to pan out.

The score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul is fresh and fun to listen to, and under the capable musical direction of Trevor Jones here, the highly talented five-piece band brings their work vividly to life. The lyrics however were a disappointment. They felt clumsy and uninspired, and didn’t really offer much insight to the characters’ thoughts that wasn’t already evident from the book. The strongest numbers are the opening song, “Some Kind of Time”, “Come to a Party” and “Pretty Funny”, the latter finally allowing us to feel what the characters really were.

Alexander Woodward tackles the difficult role of Eddie, whom the audience must somehow simultaneously like, while being repulsed by his actions. Unfortunately, the journey Eddie goes on did not feel fleshed out enough here, and as such, prevented the complexities required of this problematic character to come through on opening night. The changes and realisations he has never seemed to come from a place of understanding and growth and ultimately felt forced. However, Woodward certainly generates some nice moments in his scenes with Olivia Charalambous (Rose), and the duration of their date beginning at the restaurant until their farewell encompasses some of the best moments in the show.

Charalmbous has a great energy on stage and her renditon of “Pretty Funny” was a touching and genuinely emotional scene. Jaclyn DeVincentis adds some excellent comedic timing in her portrayal of Marcy and the honesty with which she plays her is warm and well-grounded, so it’s a shame (but understandable given the role) that she did not have more time on stage. The ensemble are full of vigour, and the choreography by Leanne Marsland brings forth the bravado and aggression we can see would have been rampant during that era.

It’s great that Doorstep Arts are willing to champion lesser-known musicals, and Dogfight does endeavour to look at marine life and how young men’s lives were and are forever changed by needless war. While there were strong performances in this ambitious production and good musical numbers, at 2.5 hours long I admit though that I expected richer character development and a more engaging book from an award-winning work.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: 15 May | Mon- Sat 8pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $49.90 Full | $44.90 Conc
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel