Sunday, December 8, 2013

THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS (The Musical!)



Written by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell
Directed by Duncan Ley and Duncan Driver
Musical Direction by Nicholas Griffin
Everyman Theatre
The Courtyard, Canberra Theatre Centre
December 5 - 21, 2013

Review by Len Power, 5 December 2013

‘A funny thing happened on the way to decorum’.  That’s just one of the deadly lines in Everyman Theatre’s revival of ‘The Musical of Musicals’ (The Musical!).  Written by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell, this musical satire opened off-Broadway in 2003 and has had great success internationally.  Everyman Theatre first presented it here in Canberra in 2009 and now it makes a welcome return.

It is structured into five acts, each of which is a short musical parodying (and paying homage to) the style of an American or British musical theatre composer or composer/lyricist team, all dealing with roughly the same classic melodrama plot, "I can't pay the rent!"  Obviously, the more knowledge you have of musicals, the more fun you will have with this show.  However, one of the group of people I saw it with on opening night had very little knowledge of musicals and still thought it was very funny and very enjoyable.

Everyman Theatre was lucky to be able to re-assemble the same cast as in their original production.  The four principles, Adrian Flor, Jarrad West, Louiza Blomfield and Hannah Ley are a great team.  They’re all excellent singers and dancers who easily handle the very different musical styles and also have the acting skills to get the most out of the multiple characters they play.  Watching Adrian Flor as Big Willie in the ‘Oklahoma’ spoof is worth the price of admission alone and every cast member has their hilariously memorable moments.  Duncan Driver, one of the directors of the show, appears now and then as a kind of narrator and is wickedly funny.

Nicholas Griffin was the musical director for the opening night and played the tricky solo piano score superbly.

The set is a wonderful mess of musical props and appears to be mainly the work of Louiza Blomfield who is credited with design.  Sharp-eyed audience members will notice that there are numerous props from previous Everyman productions sprinkled here and there.  It was enhanced by a good atmospheric lighting design by Kelly McGannon.  Christine Pawlicki and Marion West have obviously had a lot of fun with the funny and appropriate costume designs.  The choreography in the show is by Hannah Ley and Jarrad West, who really did their homework to pinch the correct dance styles and then satirize them to suit the action perfectly.

Directors, Duncan Ley and Duncan Driver, have again done a great job with this show.  They obviously know their musicals and ensure that the pace and action don’t distract from the clever satire of the writing.  This is a great end of year show to relax and enjoy.  I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this, even if they don’t like musicals.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ program on Sunday 8 December 2013.

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