Presented by: Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan
Reviewed: 12 March 2017
Peter Allen was an amazing talent whose star burnt out too soon upon his death in 1992. An all-round performer, Allen took Broadway and the pop charts by storm with his unique showbiz style. He did things his way without fear and became an Australian legend whose initial outback beginnings kept him in good stead. You’d think this ‘boy from Oz’ would have little in common with Olivia Newton John. What would a sometimes outrageously camp powerhouse stage phenomenon have in common with a seemingly sweet girl from the sticks? Quite a bit as it turns out as Allen and Newton John first met as performers on Channel 9’s classic music dance series Bandstand.
From dancing and singing a jig before a studio audience to becoming glittering stars in their own right, their cross-paralleled careers made them a good duo. Olivia, or ONJ as she is also known, sang Allen’s self-penned tune I Honestly Love You. From there she went onto the film Grease and a string of hit songs followed. Allen also had a mountain of hits from The More I See You, Tenterfield Saddler and of course, I Go to Rio. Together, Allen and ONJ were as camp as Christmas and never apologised for it. Their status as one of Australia’s most beloved entertainers is assured and is essayed well in this new Fringe production.
Both acclaimed cabaret artists, Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan are a perfect partnership. Exploring the songbook of their respective artist, they examine what made Allen and ONJ such popular performers. Telling behind the scenes stories of some of their most popular tunes, Griffiths and Ryan successfully captured the character of their artists, with light humour and engaging personalities. Whilst they didn’t sound like them, Griffith and Ryan conveyed the emotions of various songs perfectly. It wasn’t just a glorified karaoke-fest, but a tribute for two talented performers whose legacy remains. None of this means the show was a serious essay into their lives, as the performers ensured a good time was had by all. Unlike the Todd McKenney Peter Allen shows, which were themselves great to see, Livvy and Pete was a more informal show with a party-like atmosphere.
In an hour, Griffith and Ryan squeezed as much mileage as they could from Allen’s and Newton-John’s extensive back catalogue. Many were well-known classics with the likes of Xanadu, You’re the One that I Want’and others receiving an airing. The audience lapped it up, along with the excellent audience participation the duo asked for. One viewer found this out to his cost as he was asked to perform with Ryan during a very unique version of Physical!. Although the stage space they were in was sparse and somewhat cramped, it didn’t matter much due to the energy and adoration the pair had for the show. Passion goes a long way in making everyone else enjoy it with their enthusiasm evident. Ryan looked glorious with her many costume changes while Griffith wore those famous Allen Hawaiian shirts with glittering ease.
Griffith and Ryan had great stage presence and injected the right amount of emotion into the songs. Mixing things up by duetting on each other’s songs, this kept the show interesting and unique. The brisk pace worked well with the audience happily singing along to the hit tracks. The show delivered on its promise of glitter, camp and roller skates, with those of ‘a certain age’ most likely having nostalgic feelings of a more simpler era.
Livvy and Pete: The Songs of Olivia Newton-John and Peter Allen is a fun, entertaining hour of classic songs in an intimate setting. Griffith and Ryan are to be commended for putting on a great show and ensuring everyone enjoyed themselves. This is what Allen and Newton-John were all about and why they remain treasured musical ambassadors. Fans of these two should book to see this show soon as word of mouth will surely see it sell out faster than Allen shook a Maraca.
Reviewed by: Patrick Moore
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Le Cascadeur at the Garden of Unearthly Delights
Season: 8 – 19 March 2017
Duration: 60 mins.
Tickets: Full Price – $30.00, Concession – $27.00
Bookings: Book online at www.bass.net.au or phone BASS on 131 246