Tag: Sophie Weiss

Watch This Presents MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG

Fine performances in a challenging musical

By Bradley Storer

Merrily We Roll Along, currently being presented by Watch This at the MTC, is one of Stephen Sondheim’s most beloved scores but was regarded in its original Broadway incarnation as a critical and commercial flop. Part of this is due to the challenging structure of the show, moving backwards in time to unravel the complexities of the characters depicted, but also since we begin with the central character at his most morally corrupt it can be hard to generate sympathy for him.

WatchThis Productions

As this character, Franklin Shephard, Lyall Brooks faces an uphill battle trying to make him sympathetic. He acts and sings the part very well, but feels stronger as the older Frank more than the younger one. Nelson Gardner is charmingly nerdy and goofy as Charley, bringing wonderful physical comedy to the role. Completing the central trio in the role of Mary is Nicole Melloy, and she is so brilliantly funny and heart-breakingly transparent in every moment that it feels like the role could have been written for her – watching her in the part makes a compelling case that the show’s central journey is actually Mary’s instead of Frank’s.

Sophie Weiss as Beth ably handles the show’s biggest ballad, ‘Not A Day Goes By’, and her character’s transition from a haunted and heart-broken woman to the sunny naivety of youth. As the famous Broadway star Gussie, Cristina D’Agostino nails her big dance number but doesn’t manage to find the humanity under the glamourous façade, directed to play the character so over the top that it comes off a caricature. The ensemble, playing a wide variety of characters across the twenty-year time lapse, are marvellous with too many standout moments to recount here, and their united voices as they sing ‘Our Time’ are a truly beautiful conclusion to the evening.

Sara Grenfell’s direction and staging feels slightly confused which is a problem with a show such as this where there is already a complex structure, and the minimalistic set (consisting mainly of a large staircase and a set of curtains) tends to blur the scenes together. Cameron Thomas does a wonderful job as the sole musician in this production, and while it is lovely to hear the voices of the cast and ensemble unamplified in the space, the score loses much of its potential power when played only on the piano.

While not entirely successful on all fronts, the collection of strong performances and Sondheim’s magnificent score make this new production of Merrily a worthwhile visit.

Venue: The Lawler Studio, Melbourne Theatre Company, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Melbourne VIC

Dates: 29th June – 15th July

Times: Tues – Sat 7:30pm

Prices: $39 – $49

Bookings: 8688 0800, MTC tickets online

Image by Jodie Hutchinson 

Advertisements

REVIEW: StageArt Presents A SUPER BRADY CABARET

TV’s favourite family hit the stage

By Narelle Wood

It’s a story we’re all familiar with; a woman with three girls, a man with three boys and a happy household where no problem is ever too big to solve. But A Super Brady Cabaret explores more than the wholesome, teeth-flashing, perky family, it also delves into the darker side of the Brady Bunch.

A Super Brady Cabaret

The show opens with a familiar tune and the ‘on air’ antics that ensue are all the smiley, over-enthused fun and cheese you would expect from the Brady Bunch. Then the ‘on air’ light blinks off and the ‘real’ relationship between each of the cast members comes to life.

Lauren Edwards (Carol), Paul Congdon (Mike) and their six children (Kathleen Amarant, Thomas Bradford, Sophie Weiss, Giancarlo Salamanca, Nicola Guzzardi, Dylan Licastro) are perfectly casted. Under the direction of Drew Downing, this cast form is a flawless ensemble; it was impossible to pick a favourite amongst Marcia’s overt sexuality, Bobby’s watermelon smile, Cindy’s lisp or Jan’s whining. Instead, the highlights of the show come from the onstage chemistry between cast members and their well-timed interactions, as well as some witty and unexpected moments in the script.

The storyline is tight and the songs are well suited to the era of the tv show, featuring hits such as “Islands In The Stream”, “Happy Together:, and “Keep On” made famous by the original Brady Bunch. For all the frivolity of the cabaret there are also some poignant questions that the show deals with, such as what happens to each member of the bunch when the Bradys are no longer?

It’s hard to leave A Super Brady Cabaret without feeling warm and fuzzy, with every moment having either made me smile or laugh out loud. A Super Brady Cabaret is a feel-good way to finish off your day.

Venue: Chapel off Chapel
Season: Wednesday – Saturday, 6.30pm, until 13th June
Tickets: $39 Full | $31 Conc
Bookings: chapeloffchapel.com.au

Image by Belinda Strodder

REVIEW: Drew Collet in TALES OF A USED CAR SALESMAN

Come along for the ride

By Narelle Wood

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is an interesting cabaret glimpse into the world of used car sales. But instead of the stereotypical dodgy dealings of the used car salesman, it’s the customers that come under scrutiny. Drew Collet tells his first hand account of his dealings with these customers through stories, songs and a little bit of psychoanalysis.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman

It’s clear from the outset that a used car salesman is privy to all sorts of details about his customer, and does much more for his customers than just sell cars. From stories about stalkers and employees with some interesting fetishes, to the lengths people will go to in order to get a discount, Collet seems to have seen it all and a whole lot more.

The songs are familiar, with numbers such as the aptly selected “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home” and parodies of “It Was a Very Good Year” and “Rocket Man”. Collet’s acting and musical background from VCA means that he can not only belt out a tune, but has the singing range that makes his musical numbers both entertaining and a pleasure to listen to as well. Sophie Weiss provides both musical direction and some fairly fancy accompaniment on the piano.

The show seemed to be over fairly quickly (it was about an hour), and I left wanting a few more stories about Collet’s quirky customers. While it was very entertaining there were a couple of the songs that only seemed to repeat the story being told; they were very enjoyable, but it did leave me curious about how Collet came to select his songs.

Tales of a Used Car Salesman is fun, quirky and thoroughly enjoyable. So if you like some good light-hearted comedy, or perhaps in need of a new used car, this show is worth checking out.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, off Little Collins Street
Season: Until Sunday 24th August, 8pm
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/tales-of-a-used-car-salesman

REVIEW: Drew Collet and Sophie Weiss in THE LAST FIVE BEERS

Home-brewed cabaret hits the spot!

By Jen Coles

In presenting a homage of sorts to their favourite musical Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, Drew Collet and Sophie Weiss have managed to create a truly creative and uniquely Australian piece of cabaret.

The Last Five Beers tells the story of two ex-lovers who are meeting for drinks after two years (unlike the original musical, which tells the story of the deconstruction of a relationship over five years).

Weiss and Collet have taken certain licences with the storytelling itself, taking the time to introduce themselves before the show ‘started,’ giving out free popcorn and cracking jokes at each other’s expense.

This may have seemed like an unnecessary deviation from starting the show, however they incorporated many aspects of the aforementioned jokes into the later story (for example, Sophie’s loud voice or Drew’s less-than-committed Jewish/American accents). This whole approach allowed the audience to get past the stigma of audience participation, as it was a vital part of their show.

Beginning at a restaurant, The Last Five Beers accurately captures the awkwardness of meeting an ex-lover. The pair heightened aspects of their personalities into new characters; Sophie emerged as a neurotic stress-head whereas Drew appeared too much of a relaxed bloke to really cope with that type of person, and so, it was clear early on the pair weren’t right for each other.

Still, the discussions of the good times versus the bad showed a nice quiet chemistry between Weiss and Drew, and a perfect explanation of why the relationship went south in the first place.

The cabaret itself was rich with a diverse range of music to inform the story, Weiss and Collet had ample time to showcase their incredible talents, and despite a few shaky moments, Collet recovered well to hold the stage for some of the more tender moments (in particular, a beautiful rendition of Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word).

Weiss has a phenomenal voice, which sometimes was too overpowering for the small space of the Club (but again, Collet had established this in the opening, so it was still funny).

Overall, the show was extremely humorous and felt very fresh and exciting to watch. The performers’ energy was matched by the expertise lighting and direction of Glenn Van Oosterom, and Simon Bruckard on piano was delightful in skill. This is a wonderful piece of cabaret not to be missed. 

The Last Five Beers is playing this weekend at The Butterfly Club.

Thur – Sat 28-30 April- 7pm
Sun 1 May- 6pm

BOOKINGS: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com/