Venue: The Entertainment Centre Theatre, Port Road, Hindmarsh
Season: 8pm Fri 1st & Sat 2nd, 6pm Sun 3rd, 2pm Sat 2nd , 1pm Sun 3rd
Duration: 2hrs 20mins incl interval
Tickets: From $80 to $120
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 or www.ticketek.com.au
The multiple award winning Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, he was knighted in 1992 and was created an honorary life peer in 1997, has written a vast amount of music in the last 43 years. His first show, from 1968, was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This concert contained some well known songs from shows that we have seen here, some of them numerous times, as well as some more obscure songs from lesser known works, including his latest show, Love Never Dies, which is the sequel to Phantom of the Opera. The Australian production opens in May in Melbourne.
Blake Bowden, Alinta Chidzey, Andrew Conaghan, Trisha Crowe, Kirsten Hobbs and Shaun Rennie are talented young rising stars of musical theatre and Michael Cormick and Delia Hannah are already established stars. Together and individually they explore an eclectic selection of songs including many that have been taken out of the shows and become hits in their own right, being recorded by many big names in the world of music.
Directed by Stuart Maunder, with musical supervision by Guy Noble, the performance is as slick and highly polished as one would wish from such a professional group. Maunder of course, has 25 years of experience directing musical theatre and opera, including being the Artistic Administrator of Opera Australia for several years, and Noble has conducted many musical theatre productions as well as symphony orchestras all around the country.
Julie Lynch designed the set and costumes, the latter having an ongoing theme with variations of the basic outfit for each cast member. Her stage design consisted of several heavily framed screens which gave the whole thing a feeling of MTV but that, ultimately, became more of a distraction than an enhancement. The brightness of these screens also tended to obscure Gavan Swift’s lighting. They took up a lot of space, which tended to limit Elizabeth Hill’s choreography and it would have been good to see what could have been done with more stage area, considering the how well she coped with the restricted space.
The important thing, though, was the performance, and that was terrific. As expected the big hits, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita were all represented, along with Starlight Express, Song and Dance, Requiem, Tell Me on a Sunday, Sunset Boulevard, and newer works such as The Woman in White and Whistle Down the Wind. Not surprisingly, there were also selections from the forthcoming Love Never Dies, no doubt as an encouragement to people to go and see it.
It is impossible to single out anybody as standing out from this talented and well balanced crowd, although the experience of Cormick and Hannah showed in their performances. Everybody in the cast shone in their solos and worked well in the ensembles.
Michael Cormick, of course, having played the Phantom, was completely at ease with The Phantom of the Opera and Music of the Night, giving some of the best work I have seen on these songs and Delia Hannah’s Don’t Cry for me Argentina was equally superb. Their duet that opened the show, Love Changes Everything, was sheer delight.
Soprano, Trisha Crowe, and alto, Kirsten Hobbs, gave a wonderful depth of feeling to Pie Jesu and Crowe and Andrew Conaghan gave a fine rendition of All I Ask of You. Crowe also introduced fine performances of Coney Island Waltz and Love Never Dies, from the new show of that latter name. Hobbs had a chance to shine on Whistle Down the Wind and, especially, on Unexpected Song.
Every move, pose and gesture that Alinta Chidzey makes indicates that she is a trained dancer and, when she dances, those indications are proved accurate. She wowed Adelaide audiences recently as Anita in West Side Story and her performance here gives her a chance to show that she has a greater range to her singing style with excellent renditions of Take That Look Off Your Face and I Don’t Know How to Love Him.
Blake Bowden, Shaun Rennie and Andrew Conaghan breathed new life into No Matter What and their One Rock n Roll Too Many was another hit with the audience. Bowden’s version of ‘Til I Hear You Sing was superb. Rennie’s On This Night of a 1000 Stars was another highlight, as was his Heaven on Their Minds.
On top of this there were some excellent ensemble numbers, lots of energy and plenty of variety, all backed by a top flight group of musicians. If you are a fan of the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, then you will not want to miss this production, but be quick as it ends on Sunday.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.