Sunday, March 16, 2014

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK

Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey
Music by Dana P. Rowe
Musical Director Rose Shorney
Directors: Angel Dolesji & Amy Fitzpatrick
Supa Productions Inc
ANU Arts Centre 14 - 29 March 2014

Review by Len Power 14 March 2014




Supa Productions’, ‘The Witches Of Eastwick’, is the first of two musicals to be presented this year which have not been seen before by Canberra audiences.  Based on the book by John Updike, with book and lyrics by John Dempsey and music by Dana P. Rowe, it had already been a successful non-musical movie with Jack Nicholson.  The stage musical version premiered in London in 2000 and ran for a year and a half but has never had a Broadway season.  A short-lived professional production played in Melbourne in 2002.

Three women, frustrated and bored by their mundane lives in the USA, New England town of Eastwick, share a longing and desire for the perfect male who comes to life in the form of a charismatic stranger, a devil-like character, Darryl van Horne.  Seducing each of the women in turn, Darryl teaches them how to expand the powers locked within each of them.

Louiza Blomfield, Kelly Roberts, Jarrad West and Vanessa de Jager
Co-directed by Angel Dolejší and Amy Fitzpatrick, this is an entertaining production which has good music, singing and dancing as well as strong performances from a large, enthusiastic cast.  As the three witches, Louiza Blomfield, Kelly Roberts and Vanessa de Jager, sing and act their roles with great accomplishment.  Their trio at the start of the show, ‘Make Him Mine’ was particularly well sung.  Jarrad West played and sang the devilish role of Darryl van Horne with a strong level of mystery, threat and animal sexuality.  Michelle Klemke was like a young Eve Arden in her very funny performance as the uptight Felicia, expertly singing the most difficult song in the show, ‘Evil’.  There was uniformly good work from a number of minor characters as well as the large chorus.

The set design by the two directors and scenic artist, Ian Croker, was simple and attractive with a good use of an electronic screen and projections and the scene changes worked smoothly.  Costumes designed by Suzan Cooper were colourful and suited the characters well.  The lighting design by Phil Goodwin of Eclipse Lighting & Sound added great atmosphere to the various scenes.  Jesse Sewell, the audio operator, kept the sound balance crisp and clear throughout the show.  Musical director, Rose Shorney, and her orchestra played the tricky jazz score expertly.  Choreography by the director, Angel Dolejší, was imaginative and complemented the singing.  The cast danced well and with obvious enjoyment.

The directors have done a fine job with this show.  The first act is particularly strong but the second act suffers from a fragmented book which makes the story confusing and less effective.  It’s a long show and some musical numbers, while entertaining in themselves, don’t advance the story very well.  Luckily, the directors’ work overcomes these shortcomings for the most part.

With all the good work on stage, it was very disappointing to see the director, Angel Dolejší distracting the audience around him by texting on a brightly lit mobile phone during the performance, waving his arms around and talking constantly to his co-director seated next to him.  Maybe it was part of the show?

Photography by Garrick Smith and Emma Tattam

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ program on Sunday 14 March 2014.



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