Sunday, July 27, 2014


Written by Michael Hemming.
Miles Thompson (Jeremy) Alex McPherson (Cindy)
Music and additional Lyrics by Andrew Hackwill
Director: Richard Block
Musical Director: Max Gambale
Choreographer: Kathryn Jones
Presented by Dramatic Productions and Ickle Pickle Productions
Belconnen Theatre until 2nd August.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Written by prolific Canberra songwriter Andrew Hackwill, and Michael Heming, “The Rokitelly Man” is an engaging new original musical, complete with tuneful, toe-tapping songs, imaginative choreography by Kathryn Jones, a witty set design and colourful costumes. It tells the story of Jeremy, a packaging department assistant in a failing toy emporium, who invents a best-selling toy robot called “The Rokitelly”. The success of his invention turns around the fortunes of the company resulting in Jeremy becoming the new head of the toy design department.

Max Gambale (Richard) and "The Rokitelly Man" ensemble
Director Richard Block has assembled an attractive cast headed by Miles Thompson, as the gormless Jeremy, and Alex McPherson, as Cindy, the girl he loves and loses. Debra Byrne, delightfully channelling Hyacinth Bucket as the over-bearing proprietor of the toy emporium, Max Gambale as the suave marketing manager and Joe McGrail-Bateup as the opportunistic former toy design head who becomes a victim to Jeremy’s success, all provide amusing characterisations. Miriam Miley-Read almost steals the show with a delightful comedy performance as the deliciously ditzy, Angela.

Though it’s a shame that the dull, pre-recorded backing tapes drain away much of the necessary oomph and spontaneity of the musical numbers, that un-ironed costumes spoil the gloss, and an inexplicable change of style in the last 10 minutes plunges an otherwise frothy entertainment into some kind of Brechtian morality tale, there is still much to enjoy in “The Rokitelly Man”.    

An edited version of this review appears in the 26th July digital edition of CITY NEWS and will appear in the print edition out Wednesday July 30th.