Sunday, 11 October 2015

And The World Goes 'Round - WAAPA (10 October 2015)

This is one of my favourite times of the year on the local theatrical scene. We've seen glimpses of what will be next year's graduating musical theatre class but now we get the full package, front and centre. The singing potential hinted at in the play Hiawatha; the triple threat skills used in support of the third years in Legally Blonde; all come together in this musical revue.

And what a revue to choose - the timeless songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Thirty five of them in fact. Such wit and intelligence in the lyrics, such polish and pizzaz in the music. It's nothing short of a treat for musical theatre lovers.

What I really appreciated is that the second year class had the opportunity to shine in so many facets. Yes, the singing ability is undeniable which is to be expected. The choreography by Australian musical theatre legend Nancye Hayes (who also directs here) was slick and, at times, sassy, funny, and downright sexy. The cast looked fantastic, predominantly dressed in black. There was a lot of accent work and admirable use of stagecraft and acting skills. Above all though was a sense of chemistry within the group - they worked well together and were enjoying the opportunity to perform such world class material.

The venue was perfect for this style of show - seating was along two sides only and we were nice and close to the action. The four piece orchestra under musical director Derek Bond was tucked away in one corner leaving plenty of stage space which was set out slightly staggered over three levels. There was an appropriate piano keyboard motif painted on the wall and floor.

Before I get to some highlights, there was a real buzz about this production. This was enhanced by the presence of several family members in the audience. I was talking to the uncle of one of the performers as we lined up outside; the mother of another who had travelled from interstate to see her daughter; and ended up sitting next to yet another mother who had come all the way from Queensland to see her son. The anticipation and pride they share is a delightful bonus.

I must mention the work of the orchestra, a feature of which was Derek Bond's excellent piano playing, but also included fine work by Austin Salisbury on Keyboard, Oliver Rundin on Drums and Jonathan Chen on Bass.

This is definitely a recommended show - it is utterly entertaining and very funny in parts and a wonderful showcase for this group. You might have trouble getting a ticket though even with an extra show added due to the demand.

It features the second year musical theatre class of:

Ashley Roussety, Christina Odam, Jason Arrow, Jens Radda, Joshua Firman, Kate Schmidli, Melissa Russo, Mikey Halcrow, Rebecca Cullinan, Stephanie Wall, Andre Drysdale, Marissa Economo, Stefanie Caccamo, Hannah Burridge, Matthew Manahan, Nathan Stark, Samuel Welsh, and Embla Bishop.

Some highlights for me:

The witty Coffee in a Cardboard Cup enhanced by some funny choreography featuring, you guessed it, cardboard cups (Wall, Baum, Manahan, Stark, Cullinan, Bishop).

A beautifully sung version of Coloured Lights by Stefanie Caccamo with appropriately good lighting design.

The delightfully cheesy ode to Sara Lee that hammed things up gloriously (to mix my food metaphors) again with cheeky choreography (Baum, Arrow, Welsh, Odam, Bishop, Russo).

Sam Welsh enjoying the attention of Misses Economo, Burridge and Schmidli with Arthur in the Afternoon.

The entire Chicago sequence but especially Nathan Stark's poignant Mr Cellophane and Messrs. Arrow and Welsh having a grand old time with an unexpected version of Class.

The first act closer City Lights featuring Mikey Halcrow and the whole ensemble that hints at what is to come next year when the entire group is on stage together.

The charming tale Ring Them Bells (Economo, Burridge, Russo, Caccamo, Roussety, Firman, Welsh, Manahan).

The hilarious Pain that sees Burridge, Caccamo, Odam, and Halcrow suffer under the tutelage of a wonderfully overbearing Drysdale.

Stephanie Wall's Maybe This Time from Cabaret.

The lads in coordinated attack with briefcases in hand during Money, Money.

And finally, the multi-lingual closer New York, New York featuring Bishop, Drysdale, Caccamo, Radda and Odam before the ensemble joins in to clinch the deal with a rousing finale that drew appreciative applause for a wonderful show.

There were so many other highlights so if you don't already have a ticket see if you can beg, borrow or steal one!

Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Directed by Nancye Hayes, with Musical Direction by Derek Bond, And The World Goes 'Round is on at the Enright Studio until 17 October.

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