Tag: Stephen Schwartz

REVIEW: Melbourne’s Opening Night of WICKED

Return to Oz…

By Bradley Storer

The atmosphere was electrifying at the opening night of Wicked, returning to Melbourne for the first time since the original Australian production in 2008. As the lights dimmed and the first strains of music began, the audience erupted in enthusiastic applause for the musical which, for better or worse, has defined contemporary music theatre for the past decade.

Elphaba (Jemma Rix) and Glinda (Lucy Durack) in WICKED

Jemma Rix reviving her role as Elphaba is brilliant, marking Elphaba’s journey from a down-trodden outsider to a self-determined revolutionary but never letting us forget the wounded loner that lurks beneath the exterior. Her voice is extraordinary, a technical marvel which she employs to maximum effect throughout but whose full power she only unleashes, to spine-tingling results, in her Act One showstopper ‘Defying Gravity’.

Lucy Durack returning as Glinda the Good Witch, Elphaba’s truest and eventually only friend, was a little unsteady vocally at the beginning of the evening but found plenty of times to show off her bright sunny soprano. While Durack nails the bubbly, air-headed side of Glinda’s personality, she doesn’t fully convey the burgeoning intelligence which shapes Glinda’s journey in the second act.

Steve Danielson as Fiyero, both Elphaba and Glinda’s central love interest, is charming and competent but a little forgettable. Reg Livermore (The Wizard) and Maggie Kirkpatrick (Madam Morrible) both find opportunities to steal the show with their smaller but significant roles.

The show itself is compelling throughout the first act, the extravagant sets and costumes brought to life by the enthusiastic and skilled ensemble, but the pace begins to droop in the second act as the plots takes a darker twist. The musical’s weaknesses begin to show at this point, the cutesy and twee tone of the musical’s book ill-matched with the dramatic events that transpire. Stephen Schwartz’ score does its best to liven events, in particular Elphaba’s emotional breakdown in ‘No Good Deed’, but the true emotional impact of the show is saved for the final moments, with the last image slamming home the heart-breaking toll of what has transpired.

VENUE: Regent Theatre, 191 Collins St, Melbourne.
DATES: 10th May – 20th July
TIMES: Wednesday – 1pm & 8pm, Thursday & Friday – 8pm, Saturday – 2pm & 8pm, Sunday – 1pm & 6.30pm.
BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au, Phone 1300 111 011, Ticketek Outlets or at the venue.

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REVIEW: Jemma Rix with David Young in THE RANDOM VARIETY

Wicked star braves the cabaret stage

By Bradley Storer

Introduced by her accompanist David Young, Jemma Rix, the recently-announced Elphaba for the new Australian production of Wicked, took to the stage of The Butterfly Club with a shy but toothy grin. Here she launched into a wonderful original song investigating the meaning behind the title of the show and ending in a medley of countless tunes shouted out on the spot by Young.

Jemma Rix

A misstep was following this rollicking song with the Eagles’ sombre ‘Hotel California’, an odd choice which drained the energy she’d built up in her first tune. For the first part of the evening Rix was clearly nervous and had trouble maintaining eye contact with her audience – not such a big problem for musical theatre but difficult for the intimacy of cabaret. She asked the audience’s forgiveness for her understandable nerves in her first outing as a cabaret performer.

After seeming a little unsure of herself through the first few pop songs on the set list, resorting to a few stock pop-singer stage moves at some points, one could almost feel her give an internal sigh of relief when she reached the first show tunes of the night – a winning combination of Stephen Schwartz’s ‘Beautiful City’ and Sondheim’s ‘Another Hundred People’, with Schwartz’s idealistic vision of a ‘city of men’ bringing out a surprising beauty in Sondheim’s bleak landscape of urban alienation.

The first moment where it felt Rix truly connected with her audience was with the song ‘With You’ from the musical Ghost – here her inhibitions melted away  and I felt transported as Rix brought us into the heartbreaking grief of losing a loved one, and from here on out she was on solid ground. Once her nerves were gone, Rix revealed herself as a charming and engaging performer, along with her voice of startling power and floating delicacy.

The later half of the evening brought some surprising and rewarding choices in repertoire. Rix informed us of her uproarious idea of a Romeo and Juliet juke-box musical based around the music of Rihanna (the only thing lacking were some daggy dance moves!). Her banter about the plight faced by youth today in an environment pervaded by cyber-bullying led into a brilliant fusion of ‘Quiet’ from Tim Minchin’s Matilda with David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’ that held the entire audience spell-bound.

A promising first show from an established music-theatre performer which assures us of great things for her cabaret future! 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (enter off 5 Carson Place), Melbourne City

Dates & Times: 23rd, 24th, 28th at 8pm, 25th, 26th, 27th at 9pm.

Tickets: Full $28, Concession $25, Group $23, Tightarse Tuesday $20.

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com , 9663 8107 or at the door.

GRADUATE GOSSIP: April News

Cabaret Course Applications Closing

Applications are now closing for the 2010 Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course.   Final submissions are due THIS FRIDAY (April 30), the course commences Monday May 3, and as always, places are strictly limited.  

New or experienced artists eager to explore performing cabaret can read the course curriculum here, apply online or contact playright@optusnet.com.au for more information.

Don’t miss out! 

Atrocity Unleashed…

What better way to celebrate the end of the weekend than with a little bit of controversy?   Burlesque Bar proudly presents ATROCITY- Burlesque du Grand Guignol: a dark journey into the mind of man that has already seen audience members laughing, crying, fainting (!) – and coming back for more…

Atrocity Unleashed is the first in a series of shows that will leave audiences stripped bare of virtue, prejudice and inhibition. Come into the dark world of Anton De Lorde, Goddesses Forma (Beauty), Veritas (Truth) and Atrocitas (Horror), and Helliquin Guignol – where the only thing taboo is judgment.

Featuring cabaret course graduate Natalie Ristovska (Femme C Madame Natalia), the show is restricted to patrons 18+ years.   It contains scenes, themes, concepts and images that may offend.

So come and join the revolution… if you dare.

Every Sunday @ 9pm May 2 – June 6
Burlesque Bar: 42 Johnston Street, Fitzroy 3065

Tickets:$20
http://www.stickytickets.com.au/burlesquebar

Adelaide Cabaret Festival On Sale

Adelaide Cabaret Festival is an exciting opportunity for artists and fans to see the very best in international and Australian cabaret, and the June pilgrimage to see our favourite acts is becoming a must for any serious cabaret performer!

Students (and all of us watching the pennies!) should check out the Bring a Friend offer: 2 for 1 tickets to lots of amazing shows, including Butterfly Club regulars spreading their cabaret wings interstate and overseas.   Check out gorgeous Kim Smith, wonderful Queenie van de Zandt, and Mark Jones and Karlis Zaid (The Beautiful Losers) with Geraldine Quinn (Short+Sweet Cabaret winner)!

Plus this year also sees exclusive performances from Natalie Cole (“Unforgettable… With Love“), Stephen Schwartz (of Wicked fame) and Pasek and Paul (Broadway’s hottest young songwriters) for starters…

Adelaide, here we come!