|The cast of Margaret Fulton The Musical
Paige McKay - Jessica Kate Ryan - Judy Hainsworth - Clancy Enchelmaier - Conor Ensor - Zoe Harlen
Directed by Aarne Neeme - Musical Direction by Meg Kiddie
by John Bailey – Choreographed by Dan Venz
The Q, The Queanbeyan
Performing Arts Centre - March 23 – 27th March 2021.
pleasure it is to be offered an original Australian musical. Original
Australian musicals are still something of a rarity in Australian theatres so
it seems remarkable that when “Fangirls” opens in the Canberra Theatre later
this week, Canberra audiences will have the opportunity to see two of them in
the same week.
musical first surfaced in 2012 as “Margaret Fulton Queen of the Desert”, it
received excellent reviews. With book and lyrics by Doug McLeod and music by
Yuri Worontschak, and now retitled “Margaret Fulton The Musical” it is now
being presented by Jally Entertainment for an eight performance season in The
Q, The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre as part of an extensive regional tour.
Tracing the story
of how an enterprising young cook
embraced the opportunities offered by the emergence of television to change Australia’s eating habits through her
enthusiastic promotion of crockpots, pressure cookers and a best-selling cook
book, and in doing so became a National
Living Treasure, the musical draws on Margaret Fulton’s autobiography “I sang
For My Supper”.
presented in this touring production, “Margaret Fulton the Musical” seems to
have lost something in translation.
dot-points to Fulton’s rise to fame are presented in a revue-style presentation
in which, her talents for cooking, her salesmanship, her relationships with her
first two husbands and others who influenced her growing fame are represented
by a talented ensemble of six actors, three of whom play multiple roles. All these characters are portrayed in
over-the-top, cartoon-like characterisations with catchy songs, snappy lyrics
and flashy choreography.
entertaining as these segments are however, the playing is so broad that it is
difficult to connect with any of the characters, and very little of what is
depicted explains Fulton’s huge popularity.
|Zoe Harlen (Bea) - Judy Hainsworth (Margaret Fulton)
A scene early in the show in which Fulton
duets with her dead mother and another duet with her third husband towards the
end of the show seem intended to add some depth, but sit uncomfortably out of
style with the rest of the show, suggesting that the authors were undecided
about whether the show should be a satirical comment on the times or a
melodrama about Fulton’s life.
impression is further exacerbated by John Bailey’s realistic kitchen/dining
room setting. Attractive at first viewing, the dining room side of the set
quickly becomes superfluous, even intrusive for those scenes set in other
locations including Kings Cross, London hotels, offices and lobbies, resulting
in the cast playing those scenes in front of the set rather than in it. The
static lighting design did little to overcome this problem.
|The cast of Margaret Fulton The Musical.
Paige McKay - Clancy Enchelmaier - Jessica Kate Ryan - Conor Ensor - Judy Hainsworth - Zoe Harlen
One felt for
the cast, which included Judy Hainsworth as Margaret Fulton, supported by Jessica
Kate Ryan and Zoe Harlen with Paige McKay, Conor Ensor and Clancy Enchelmaier
playing a myriad of other characters. They all worked hard to breathe life into
the show, but their efforts were constantly stymied by the harsh, poorly
recorded soundtrack that featured abrupt endings to many of the songs which
left the audience in confusion as to whether or not to applaud.