|Mikayla Williams as Elle Wood|
Free- Rain Theatre
A.N.U Arts Centre until July 27
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Omigod you guys! What a triumph ! Presented in Canberra so soon after the national tour, this challenging musical about a bright young woman with blonde hair and a penchant for pink, who enrols into Harvard to win the man of her dreams, receives an exuberant production by Free- Rain Theatre. Superbly cast and imaginatively staged by director, Derek Walker, this high-energy production is a delight from start to finish.
As the delightful blonde, Elle Wood, Mikayla Williams is real star material. Her singing, dancing and acting are exemplary, and it is difficult to look at anyone else when she is on stage. She receives great support from Dave Evans, excellent as Emmett, Jenna Roberts, in an outstandingly comedic performance as the hairdresser, Paulette, and Damon Grebert-Wade, a bit colourless, but revealing a fine singing voice, as Warner. Brian Cavanagh brings exactly the right authority to the sleazy lecturer, Callahan. Zack Drury steals all his scenes as the guy with the box, and Vanessa de Jager, Laura Dawson and Kirrah Amosa excel as the vivacious Greek chorus.
Michelle Heine’s classy choreography is performed with confidence and panache by the enthusiastic ensemble, who between them, outfitted in Fiona Leach’s excellent costumes; provide the myriad of other characters who inhabit Steve and Susie Walsh’s multi-level, free-flowing set, impressive with its colourful LED lighting.
Some un-solved sound-balance problems meant that Nicholas Griffin’s excellent band often swamped the singers on opening night. No doubt this will be corrected. Don’t miss this one.An edited version of this review was published in the digital edition of CITY NEWS on July 5.
It will also appear in the print version of CITY NEWS out on Wednesday July 9.