Tag: Stephen Amos

REVIEW: GEORGY GIRL – The Seekers Musical

New musical relives the making of Aussie music history

By Amy Planner

The Seekers are an Australian icon of the 1960s music scene and they have finally been recognised the way any great stars should – by being further immortalised on stage. Georgy Girl is the vibrant new stage musical story of The Seekers’ rise to fame.

Georgy Girl - The Seekers Musical photo credit Jeff Busby.JPG

When a young insecure Judith Durham joins a folk group for a night, little did she know her life would change forever. Along with Athol Guy the business-minded bass player, Bruce Woodley the keen songwriter and Keith Potger the lady-loving guitarist, they became The Seekers. This musical follows their journey from a local club in Balwyn, Victoria, to the world’s stage and back again.

The casting of this historical musical was superb; the combination of Pippa Grandison as Judith, Phillip Lowe as Keith, Mike McLeish as Bruce and Glaston Toft as Athol could not have been any better. Their spectacular performances were only topped by their musical talent and ability to move so easily from song to song. Grandison has a wonderfully full and versatile voice, stealing the stage with her rendition of “Mamma’s Got The Blues” in Act Two.

Being opening night and a world premiere there were bound to be a few glitches here and there. There were just a few clunky scene changes and a few slight harmony issues, but they are sure to be ironed out with a few more shows. Luckily, there was also  an abundance of very upbeat dancing from the impressive ensemble that kept everyone thoroughly entertained.

Unfortunately the big stylistic change of Judith at the end of Act One was rather uneventful; a famous number like “Georgy Girl” in a show called Georgy Girl should surely have elicited a little more pizzazz. The second act, however, dealt with many more emotional tragedies the band had to face. This handling of this was very delicate and respectful, giving emotional heaviness where due and light-hearted moments when possible. It took a really expressive cast, fine scripting and a well-balanced production team to make these scenes as poignant as they were.

Isaac Lummis has done a sincerely unique job of the costuming for Georgy Girl. The outfits are original and distinctive: it took a truly creative eye to collate so many vibrant and stylistic patterns and shapes so successfully.

The musical team Stephen Amos and Stephen Gray deserve much praise for their work with the cast in bringing The Seekers to life in theatre. The intricate harmonies and beautiful voices would not have sounded so authentic and appealing without their guidance and skill.

The audience at this premiere were luck enough to be graced with a cameo from the real Seekers themselves,  who walked the red carpet and joined the cast on stage at the end of the show. The crowd was delightfully surprised as the quartet took their bows in front of a standing ovation.

This appealing new show highlights a truly exceptional moment in Australia’s musical history and will be a delight for those long-serving and new-found Seekers fans.

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne.
Season: 22nd December – 21st February, Tues 7pm, Wed 1pm/7pm, Thurs 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm/8pm, Sun 3pm.
Tickets: From $60
Bookings: ticketek.com.au

Image by Jeff Busby

REVIEW: Gordon Frost’s GREASE THE MUSICAL

New production of the rom-com musical classic hits Melbourne

By Bradley Storer

After an impromptu greeting by the ensemble cast of Gordon Frost’s Grease led by Principal Lynch (Val Lehman) welcoming us to the halls of Rydell High School, the lights go down and a brief love duet between romantic leads Sandy (Gretel Scarlett) and Danny (Rob Mills) leads into the electrifying opening ‘Grease is the Word’.

Grease-the-musical

The cast emerges from the smoke, each character instantly distinguishable in the tight and precise ensemble, and all is right with the world. ‘Grease is the Word’ is exciting, characterful and taps immediately into the hot-blooded vivacity of 50’s youth culture.

What is so disappointing is that very little that follows matches the opening number. The classic score is still fantastic, under the musical direction of Stephen Amos, but the energy in both the musical numbers and scenes never reaches the level it should be at. (Act I song ‘These Magic Changes’ led by Chris Durling as Doody comes the closest to achieving the strength of the first number).

Scarlett and Mills are perfectly believable as the lead couple. Mills uses his cheeky charm to good effect as bad boy Danny, and Scarlet gives off an aura of sunny innocence as Sandy, and shows off a surprising range in her number ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’. Danny’s gang, the T-Birds, tend to blur together with their similar hair colours and identical outfits, although Duane McGregor as Roger does get to display some impressive vocals in his duet ‘Mooning’ with Jan (Laura Murphy). Stephen Mahy as Kenickie is oddly restrained to the point of being underpowered, displaying the rock stylings necessary for the biggest number in the show ‘Greased Lightning’ but none of the rock star sexual charisma.

The female characters as a whole fare better. Lucy Maunder as Rizzo is the highlight of the entire show, grabbing attention as soon as she struts out in her dark sunglasses and by the end delivers a commanding performance of ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’. The first-rate ensemble are to be commended for performing with complete energy and commitment in everything they appear in, with special mention to ensemble member Euan Doidge for the onstage acrobatics he pulls off at various points in the show.

Melbourne season: 5th January – 16th March, 2014.

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, 219 Exhibition St, Melbourne

Tickets: Online at http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=GREASE14