Sunday, February 8, 2015

HIGH FIDELITY


Zach Raffan as Rob with Rob's past girlfriends

Book by David Lindsay-Abaire
Music by Tom Kitt
Lyrics by Amanda Green
Directed by Nathan Patrech and Sarah Hull
Musical Director: Jenny Tabur
Choreography by Jordan Kelly
Presented by Phoenix Players
ANU Arts Centre 6-21 February 2015

Review by Len Power 6 February 2015

‘High Fidelity’, based on the book by Nick Hornby and the movie of the same name, is about Rob, the owner of an independent record store that attracts some pretty weird vinyl record collectors.  He might know a lot about music but he isn’t doing too well with his love life.

First time directors Nathan Patrech and Sarah Hull have done a fine job of staging the show.  It moves along at a good pace and there are some strong performances from the large cast.  Zach Raffan sings and plays the leading role of Rob extremely well and Josie Dunham matches him every step of the way as his troubled girlfriend, Laura.  Will Huang gives probably the most appealing performance in the show as the store’s shy employee, Dick, and he sings some high notes wonderfully well.  A pity some attention-seeking morons in the audience had to scream and shout at the wrong time, wrecking a perfect silent moment in one of his songs.  Max Gambale sang his role very well but his character was too dominant in relation to other characters and became rather wearing.  The directors needed to judge a more appropriate level for his performance.

I was particularly impressed with Miriam Miley-Read in the smaller role of the singer, Marie LaSalle.  This actress knows how to command every moment she’s on stage.  Amy Dunham gave a heart-felt performance as Rob’s good friend, Liz, and Tim Stiles scored as The Most Pathetic Man In the World, giving us a real character rather than a cliché.  If there was time and space, I would mention everybody favourably.

Choreography by Jordan Kelly worked fine and was danced very well, especially by the five girls playing a kind of Greek chorus of Rob’s past girlfriends.  Costumes by Jennie Norberry were well chosen for the types of characters in the show.

The colourful and busy set by Anita Davenport and Steve Galinec gave the right atmosphere for the show.  The lighting design by Andrew Snell seemed shadowy at times and there were dead spots in the centre and on the right hand side that needed attention.  Musical director - another first-timer - Jenny Tabur, did an excellent job with the music.  Sound levels in the first act made the lyrics hard to understand but the levels seemed fine in the second act.

How much you’ll enjoy this musical depends on how well you respond to the characters.  I felt no empathy for Rob or anyone else much in the show but I had a similar problem with the characters in the movie.  By the way, if you like to hear the F word a lot, you’ll feel right at home watching this.  The show had only a short run on Broadway in 2006.    Still, it’s colourful and the music score is very clever.

Photography by David Burke (OrangeDrummaBoy), Peter Stiles (Apple Snaps Photography), Amy Dunham


Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ showbiz program with Bill Stephens on Sunday 8 February 2015 from 5pm.

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