|Jess Zdanowicz - Sarah Hull - Kirsten Smith - Hannah Lance
Design by Helen McIntyre – Set Design by Steve Galinic
Design by Jacob Aquilina – Sound Design by Katniss Stellar
Presented by Queanbeyan Players. Belconnen
Community Theatre until 5th March.
night performance on 24th February reviewed by Bill Stephens
Essentially an all singing, all dancing revue built around songs popular in England during the decade between 1960 and 1970, “Downtown: The Mod Musical” is given a colourful, entertaining production by Queanbeyan Players.
To give the
songs context the show has a through-line concerning the lives of five young
women navigating the 1960’s era when women were demanding more control over
their lives. In the show each of the soloists is identified only by the colour
of her costume, rather than by name.
Liddiard plays Red Girl; Hannah Lance is Green Girl; Emily Pogson is Blue Girl,
Alexandra McLaughlin is Orange Girl; and Sarah Hull is Yellow Girl. All except
Yellow Girl are meant to be British, Yellow Girl having revealed in her opening
monologue that she has travelled from America just to see Paul McCartney. Green
Girl was the only one among the four British women to attempt any sort of
|Alexandra McLaughlin (Orange) - Kay Liddiard (Red) - Emily Pogson (Blue) - Hannah Lance (Green) - Sarah Hull (Yellow) in "Downtown"
The women relate
their stories through a succession of songs popular during the era. The songs
are interrupted by short monologues, or interludes during which the women
request and receive advice on matters affecting their lives from columnist,
Gwendolyn Holmes (Tina Meir) who works for a fictional magazine “Shout”, to
which each of the women subscribe.
delivers her advice via a disembodied voiceover and that advice provides a good
deal of the humour for the show. It also provides the opportunities for comment
on the changing attitudes of the times.
to the lead characters, director Anita Davenport has added a chorus of five additional
women, Hannah Miller, Carly Carter, Jess Zdanowicz, Kirsten Smith and Anna
Tully, who shadow each of the principal characters and are costumed in
individual black and white costumes.
Laurenzy Chapman has taken advantage of the extra numbers to create a
succession of clever, well-drilled production numbers based on the popular
dance moves of the era. Reminiscent in style to the popular television shows of
the period, these routines are performed with commendable energy and precision
by the whole cast. Elsewhere director, Davenport displays a flair for arranging
the cast to form attractive stage pictures throughout.
Galinec’s colourful abstract setting provides the perfect ambience for the
show, enhanced as it is by Jacob Aquilina’s equally colourful lighting design, while
Helen McIntyre’s beautifully detailed costumes echo Carnaby Street fashion.
The sound on
opening night was somewhat erratic, allowing Tara Davidson’s hardworking trio
to occasionally become almost inaudible, which possibly accounted for the
uncertainty of some of the singing.
lovely harmonies achieved by the full ensemble were spot on, some of the songs
chosen for the soloists were beyond their talents, resulting in some off pitch
singing and forced lyrics.
that the soloists were attempting to emanate the performances of songs
indelibly engraved into the audience’s collective consciousness by singers of
the ilk of Petula Clarke, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black, this was easy to
blemishes aside, if you’re a sucker for the songs of the sixties, this is the
show for you.
Images by Sarah Abramowski
This review first published in CITY NEWS on 25th February 2023