Performing Arts

Glee

Presented by Swell Productions
Reviewed Sunday 1st April 2012

It might have been April Fool's Day, but there was nothing foolish about the concert given by a group of young performers who study with the Gravity Dance Studios and perform with Patrick Lim's Swell Productions. Lim has written a new Year 12 course for SACE Creative Arts in musical theatre that is offered by Gravity, and a number of these young people are enrolled in that course.

The concert covered a wide variety of music, each performer taking a turn to solo, with the others providing backing vocals and dancing, with very different and quite complex dance routines to each song. The large performance area allowed for some elaborate routines that took advantage of the spacial opportunity provided, giving the performers a chance to really show their dancing skills.

Patrick Lim opened the performance, then handed over to the young artists for the rest of the concert. They were all dressed alike in basic black, dresses for the ladies, and shirt, trousers and coloured braces for the men. Small additions to the costumes were made here and there for particular numbers to add some variation. Recorded music was used for all performances and the whole production was video-taped for the SACE assessment panel to view later.

Some of the songs came from shows, and others from the world of popular music, old and new. The concert consisted of eighteen numbers, and an encore, as well as one entry by the four men, Joe Meldrum, Riley Ingham, Matthew Prime and Callum Warrender, as a quartet, but showing more talent than the average 'boy band'. The standard of all of the performers was very high indeed and showed the results of what must have been a great amount of dedicated rehearsal time and lots of individual practice.

There was not a weak link in the entire production, characterised by fine voices and thoughtful interpretations. Those being moderated for their SACE results have nothing to worry about.

A couple of performers stood out, with Yen Yen Stender presenting the version by Alicia Keys of Prince's How Come You Don't Call Me Any More, and Callum Warrender, closing the show, with Michael Bublé's version of the classic, That's Life, made famous by Frank Sinatra. These two not only have strong voices but get inside their songs and give them a very personal interpretation.

Stender, of course, has the advantage of considerable professional experience, having appeared in the film Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger and more recently in Legacy of the Tiger Mother in the Fringe. She also played Belle in the recent Swell Productions production of Beauty and the Beast. Warrender played Gaston in the same production, with most of the performers of Glee also appearing in that show. Stender also played the witch in Into the Woods, with Warrender as Jack and Matthew Prime, whose Michael Bublé version of Queen's Crazy Little thing Called Love opened the second half of the concert with plenty of style, playing the Baker.

This was a superb concert demonstrating that, although it went into a decline some decades ago and was prematurely diagnosed as dead, musical theatre has made a strong recovery and a new generation of performers is coming up to take it into the future.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

http://swellproductions.com.au/
http://www.gravitydance.com.au/

Venue: Australian Dance Theatre, 126 Belair Road, Hawthorn
Season: One performance only
Duration: 1hr 40min (incl. interval)

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