Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein and Peter Charles Morris
Directed by Anita
Belconnen Community Theatre
to 5 March
Reviewed by Len Power
24 February 2023
The Swinging Sixties offered a large number of songs that still conjure up that era and “Downtown: The Mod Musical” covers an impressive range of them. As someone who was a teenager then, it was good to hear them all again.
Set in London between the early 1960s and 1970, the show follows the lives of five different women, represented here by different colours. Issues affecting their lives are shown in the linking material between songs. While the era is seen as “swinging”, day to day problems still remained. Generational conflict, early romance, marriage and deciding whether to conform or not were still big issues. The media told us that the era was “swinging” but that was in faraway London. We were just busy getting through our teenage years.
On a bright and colourful set designed by Steve Galinec, reminiscent of television variety shows of the time, the show is bright and cheerful and the songs come thick and fast. Director, Anita Davenport, keeps it all moving quickly and Laurenzy Chapman has given the show a huge amount of choreographed movement that is true to the period. Helen McIntyre’s colourful costumes look good on the cast.
|Hannah Lance, Sarah Hull, Kay Liddiard, Alexandra McLaughlin and Emily Pogson
The five main women – Alexandra McLaughlin, Kay Liddiard, Emily Pogson, Hannah Lance and Sarah Hull – perform the songs and moves with lots of energy and enthusiasm. Some of the singing was uneven but there were a number of highlights including Hannah Lance’s “One Two Three” and Sarah Hull’s “Son Of A Preacher Man”.
The additional four girl chorus of Anna Tully, Hannah Miller, Carly Carter, Jess Zdanowicz and Kirsten Smith provided strong backup to the five featured performers. Tina Meir did the voice overs and was funny in her brief cameo as the Gwendoline Holmes “Agony Aunt” columnist.
Musical director, Tara Davidson, and her three member band did a fine job but the sound by Katniss Stellar (Eclipse) seemed to be designed for the Bruce Stadium, not the intimate Belconnen Theatre. It was too loud, too heavy on the bass and there were instances of feedback that should not be happening. This was supposed to be the “60s” sound, not the sound of rock concerts of today.
“Downtown” is a fun and colourful show that showcases the good songs of those ten years of “Swinging 60s”. The enthusiastic company make it an enjoyable, undemanding night out.
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Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/