Book and lyrics by Joe Paley
Music by Marvin Laird
Directed by Jordan Best
Musical Director: Nicholas Griffin
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 12 March
Reviewed by Len Power 26 February 2022
Here’s the perfect musical for classic movie and Broadway show tragics. Loaded with references to past shows and movies, this 1992 Off-Broadway musical is a madcap romp that shamelessly uses every melodramatic cliché it can dredge up.
Young Tina Denmark kills a rival child to get the lead in the school musical. Her mother is horrified but understands because she has her own secrets. After many wild and over the top complications it all ends badly but hilariously.
Director, Jordan Best, has produced a colourful, crazy entertainment that zips along at great speed and gives her six performers – all women - every opportunity to shine.
|Jessy Heath as Tina Denmark|
Jessy Heath is a delightfully wicked and determined child murderess, Tina Denmark. The wonderful Jenna Roberts is brilliant as a troubled mother and housewife who finds fame and glamour in her second act.
Tracy Noble has great fun with the character of Myra Thorn, a dowdy schoolteacher and director of the school play for whom a murder is just a nuisance because theatre is what really matters.
Dee Farnell gives a classic performance of a mannered and stylish woman, Sylvia St. Croix, who has many secrets and Eryn Marshall is hysterically funny as the off key singing murder victim, Louise, and then as Eve, the nervous, plotting secretary to a famous star.
Janie Lawson is deliciously awful as theatre critic and grandmother, Lita Encore, and is superb in her show-stopping song, ‘I Hate Musicals’.
While this is a crazy, very silly show, it needs to be done very well to succeed. It requires performers of a high calibre who can play the satire with all stops out but also sing the demanding songs. All six women have been perfectly cast.
|From left: Tracy Noble (Myra Thorn), Dee Farnell (Sylvia St. Croix), Eryn Marshall (Eve), Jenna Roberts (Judy Denmark), Jessy Heath (Tina Denmark) and Janie Lawson (Lita Encore)|
The set, with eye-popping 1950s colours and patterns, has been nicely designed by Ian Croker and the clever choreography by Jacquelyn Richards shows a great knowledge of Broadway musical dance styles. Anna Senior has clearly had a lot of fun designing the perfect costumes for this show.
Musical direction by Nicholas Griffin is tight and accomplished and both he and Sharon Robinson perform the score on two pianos in full view of the audience.
If you don’t have a good time at this, I’m afraid young Tina Denmark will probably hunt you down!
Photos by Ben Appleton
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/.