Presented SMA Productions
The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre 13th – 15th October.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
“Boys in the Band” is a slick, fully choreographed cabaret show, performed by four good-looking young men, backed by a tight four-piece live band. The show pays homage to famous boy bands, stringing together medleys of hit songs associated with such groups as Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons, The Beatles, The Jackson Five, The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees. The excellent vocal and musical arrangements successfully reproduce the unique sound of each of the groups represented, and the often complex choreography provides visual interest.
Produced by SMA Productions, the show features several casts. An excellent version performed in the Canberra Playhouse last year featured Hugh Barrington, Tom Sharrah, Leigh Sleightholme and Tom Struik, in an impeccable performance, memorable for the slickness and precision of presentation, which set high expectations for this sold-out season in the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre.
The cast performing at The Q again includes Tom Struik, but this time with Mat Verevis, Simon McLachlan, and Nana Matapule, which, while not as vocally accomplished as the other cast, sang well and executed the choreography competently. However, on their opening night in Queanbeyan, they appeared to be running on automatic, and their overall performance lacked the enthusiasm, attack and polish which previously made this show so outstanding.
The performance commenced unpromisingly with a poor sound mix and a dull lighting plot. The singers seemed content to sing at the audience, rather than to them. There were intonation problems with harmonies, and carelessness with details. Small details like a jacket unbuttoned when the other three are buttoned, and a singer having his hands clasped in front while the other three have their hands at their sides, are important in a show which has obviously strived to obtain a slick and polished finish. Unsightly water-bottles scattered around the stage don’t enhance it either.
The show is scripted, so interpolations like “Are ya havin’ a good time?” when the show had barely began, or “C’mon, get up and dance”, when it’s impossible to comply in raked theatre seating, along with constant false exits followed by “D’ya want more”, are more annoying than endearing.
The retention of the time wasting segment early in the show, involving hauling an unfortunate audience member on to the stage for some embarrassingly juvenile participation, also puzzles because it destroys the promised pretext that the show is a serious exploration of the success of boy bands.
Hopefully these aberrations will be corrected for future performances, because, at its best, “Boys in the Band” is among the slickest and most entertaining presentations of its type on the circuit.
This review also appear in Australian Arts Review. www.artsreview.com.au