Presented by Promise Adelaide
Reviewed 19th February 2017
Nineteen young people whose ages ranged from eight to nineteen provided twenty-seven musical moments (as promised in the show’s title). The Norwood Live venue, next door to the Norwood Hotel, is a fine cabaret-style environment, with both table-and-chair and row seating, fairy lights a-plenty, and a bar that stayed open all night. Although this show was listed in the Cabaret section of the Adelaide Fringe programme, it wasn’t a cabaret at all. It was simply a series of solos, duets and group numbers performed by the above-mentioned young people. All performances (with one exception) were accompanied by backing tracks. The one song sung with live accompaniment was Falling slowly from the musical Once. Singers Connor Olsson-Jones and Darcy Bensted had an easier task than most because of Kyle Hall’s sensitive guitar accompaniment.
Directed by Ben Francis (aged 17 – everybody’s age is listed in the programme), the material is all musical theatre, mostly well-chosen as appropriate for younger people to sing. The stage was bare and sufficiently lit. Everyone worked with a hand-held radio mic.
Because each of the remaining two performances will feature different performers and different material, this review can only give an indication of the format. Performances ranged from the merely cute to remarkably engaging and skilled. There were songs from old-fashioned musicals to the latest musicals, with the music of Sondheim rubbing shoulders with a song from the film Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper. Standout performers included Jess Muenchow and Hannah Smith, both of whom showed a fine acting range as well as developing voices with great tone and stability. Heather Kofoupolous made Right Hand Man her own, with lively intelligence and wit. Everything Zara Blight did was energetic, engaging, and beautifully judged. If Connor Olsson-Jones hadn’t had the inappropriate tempo of his backing track to contend with, he could have done Luck, be a lady even better. As it was, he gave a fine account of it, but wrestled with the intro section because of the track’s merciless speed. And he wasn’t the only fine young performer to find themselves at odds with a backing track. Some were a challenge – others were plain punitive.
At the end of the first half, a group of four young men, called The 60 Four, did a bracket of four songs from Jersey Boys. Ben Francis, Kyle Hall, Lachlan Williams and Jordan Tomljenovic sang the harmonies and did the Four Seasons-style moves with practised energy and flair. Francis’ falsetto has a pile-driving quality. Unfortunately, the sound desk did little to enhance the vocal balance of the quartet, mixing Francis’ voice well ahead of the three other young men, all of whom are fine vocalists in their own right. I felt sorry for them; were the sound balance to have been better, the quality of their performance would have been much more readily perceived.
The joy of a show like this is the reminder that there is a solid cohort of young performers whose love of music theatre causes them to build their skills in order to perform this complex and demanding artform. All the performers looked like they were having a great time – and I did too.
Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson
Rating out of 5: 3
Disclaimer: Ben Francis is an Arts reviewer for Glam Adelaide
Venue: Norwood Live at The Norwood Hotel
Season: 19th February, 8th & 15th March 2017
Duration: 120 minutes
Tickets: Full Price: $28.00