Sunday, 7 September 2014

Best Bits - WAAPA (7 September 2014)

This isn’t going to be so much a review as it will be a celebration.

WAAPA’s graduating musical theatre students capped off an outstanding year and the culmination of three years hard work with four shows over two days at The Roundhouse Theatre. All twenty of these talented performers were given a highlight moment as well as jointly reminding us of the featured productions they have starred in over the journey. It was a very relaxed, funny, and entertaining couple of hours that more than ably demonstrated their abilities as they prepare for the showcase tour of Sydney and Melbourne. Agents and stardom beckon.

Simply accompanied by Tim How on piano, this was more than just a ‘greatest hits’ concert. The parodies of the four major musicals – Merrily We Roll Along, West Side Story, Hair and Reefer Madness were inventive and hilarious. From lampooning the complexities of Merrily We Roll Along’s reverse timeline narrative to sending up Hair’s famous nude scene to an unconventional (to say the least!) interpretation of West Side Story, the 2014 graduating class were clearly enjoying themselves and the audience went along for the crazy ride. The chemistry within the group was palpable.

They also cheekily borrowed the central conceit of the Sondheim musical to tell their own story backwards - from 2014 all the way back to arriving at the acclaimed Academy for the very first time. It was a nice linking device. That they ended the show all with suitcase in hand was an apt image – it’s time to depart for their next journey as a bright future and professional careers await.  

Between the set-piece parodies was a mix of performances – from musical numbers, to dance routines, to monologues to show off acting chops. I really liked the balance as it reinforced the fact that WAAPA trains these wonderfully gifted performers to be triple threats – singing, dancing and acting. There were plenty of witty transitions as well and the show was nothing less than downright mischievous at times. I loved the overall vibe that all these elements achieved - a celebration indeed.

I don’t intend to go through individual performances other than to say there were so many highlights in all three of those disciplines. It was a really fun afternoon with a receptive audience, some of whom will be featuring in this very spot next year. 

Unfortunately I arrived late to the party with this class having only seen their 2014 performances (Reefer Madness looks like it would have been a scream). Two things to come out of today though: a sense of excitement to see what happens next with the individuals in this group; and a real expectation for the second years as they step up to take their place. Already a strong roster of productions has been announced for 2015 – Urinetown, Legally Blonde, and Carrie.

Finally, thank you to the 2014 graduating class of Jess Voivenel, Shannen Alyce, Miranda Macpherson, Suzie Melloy, Daniel Berini, Patrick Whitbread, Sophie Cheeseman, Lyndon Watts, Ben Adams, Sophie Stokes, Will Groucutt, Stephen Madsen, Ashleigh Rubenach, Chloe Wilson, Jack Van Staveren, Eloise Cassidy, Nick Eynaud, Max Bimbi, Rebecca Hetherington and Du Toit Bredenkamp for providing such excellent entertainment over the year. Every show, including this one, has been entertaining, enthralling and a sheer delight.

All the best for showcase and the future!

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