Presented by Andrew McKinnon & Phil Bathols in association with Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 7 September 2019
From Broadway to La Scala began life as one series of concerts with David Hobson and Teddy Tahu Rhodes. It has since morphed into a brand. It’s a simple and incredibly successful format: a group of (mostly) classical singers, put on a concert of works from both opera and musicals.
Saturday night saw the Adelaide Festival Centre nearly full for the first concert of this new series. Joining Hobson and Rhodes were Emma Matthews, Genevieve Kingsford, Alexander Lewis and Broadway star Caroline O’Connor. The orchestra/show band was under the baton of Vanessa Scammell.
The performance presented a great selection of works, including some less obvious choices, which was refreshing. Each performer was given a chance to shine with works for which they are known, or which suited their voice. Highlights included Rhodes’ If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof; Kingsford and Matthews’ Sull’Aria from Marriage of Figaro; O’Connor’s Broadway Baby from Follies; and Rhodes’ and O’Connor’s Master of the House from Les Miserables.
Musically this is a very slick and powerful show: great singing, strong orchestra, solid conductor. Where it falls down is in the actual structure. There seems to be no particular rhyme or reason for any song choice (fantastic though they are). There certainly doesn’t need to be a narrative, but it did cry out for some sort of framework. The scripted ‘ad libs’ in between songs was just ghastly. Corny, pointless and uncomfortable, it rarely helped deepen our understanding of the music itself. Particularly for the operatic works which aren’t in English, the audience would have appreciated a brief introduction to the aria, and where it fits in the story. A much better use of time than more fake banter!
However, if you can grit your teeth through the chat, Broadway to La Scala delivers. As an introduction to both opera and musicals (along with a smidgen of operetta), it certainly does what it says on the can. And six of Australia’s greatest theatre voices are definitely worth the price of admission.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
One Night Only – Season Ended