Wednesday, November 4, 2015

BUZZING BROADWAY



Director/designer: Cate Clelland.
Musical Director: Nicholas Griffin
Choreographer: Lisa Irvine
Costume Designer: Fiona Leach
Free-Rain Theatre.
Courtyard Studio – Canberra Theatre Centre. 31st November, 2015

Reviewed by Bill Stephens.

The first of two presentations under the Free-Rain Nightclub banner, “Buzzing Broadway” proved to be a stylishly presented revue based around songs selected from shows presented on Broadway over the last forty or so years. There was no obvious connection between the songs, or to the shows from which they were chosen, however the song selection provided an excellent showcase for the talents of the seven members of the cast, and for musical director, Nicholas Griffin, who accompanied the show seated at keyboards centre-stage.

The audience were offered canapes and cheese as they entered Cate Clelland’s evocative setting which saw the Courtyard Studio made-over to resemble a night club in which some audience members seated cabaret –style at tables with others in tiered seating.

The sophisticated nightclub atmosphere continued through the show with the cast performing their acts in neatly co-ordinated evening wear on a large stage decorated with silver settees and black and gold balloons.

The show was presented without an interval, with the songs given tightly scripted introductions by various members of the cast.

Among the highlights were Louiza Blomfield’s brilliant “Alto’s Lament” and her “Tear Jerk” duet with Steve Amosa. However her “Whatever Happened To My Part”, though excellently performed, suffered from lack of context.

Steve Amosa scored with his smooth renditions of “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables” and “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera”. Another song from this musical allowed Kaitlin Nihill to impress with a sweet interpretation of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here”.

Alexander Clubb had his best moment in the duet “Lily’s Eyes” from “The Secret Garden”, for which he was teamed with Steve Amosa, but his interpretation of “Broadway Here I  Come”, from the television series “Smash”, didn’t reflect the drive indicated by the lyrics.

Similarly, Cher Albrecht’s pleasantly sung version of “Movie In My Mind”, from “Miss Saigon”, ignored the bitterness and despair inherent in this song.

“Someone Like You” from “Jekyll and Hyde” was beautifully performed by Kirrah Amosa, who also impressed again later in the show with her duet “For Good” from the musical “Wicked” which she sang with Louiza Blomfield.

As well as providing choreography elsewhere in the show, Lisa Irvine joined Kaitlin Nihill and Cher Albrecht in a clever adaptation of Bob Fosse’s choreography for “Rich Man’s Frug” from “Sweet Charity”.  She also danced “Mr Bojangles” to Steve Amosa’s gentle guitar accompaniment.

Apart from the succession of solos and duets, “Buzzing Broadway” also contained some excellent ensemble presentations, the most outstanding of which were the excellently arranged “Jerry Herman Counterpoint Medley” and the “Webber Love Trio”.

One problem for a show based on Broadway songs is the assumption that the audience is familiar with the shows from which the songs are taken. Stripped of their context many of the songs make little sense, unless the performer is able to create a context other than the one for which the song was written. There were few examples in “Buzzing Broadway” where this was achieved.

That said, “Buzzing Broadway” still succeeded in providing a very worthwhile and enjoyable evening of polished entertainment, and a delightful showcase for its talented cast.



  
  



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