Review: Raunchy musical undone by technical challenges

musical theatre
“The Witches of Eastwick”
At ANU Arts Centre until March 29.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens

MORE “Sex in the City” than “The Sound of Music”, “The Witches of Eastwick” is a raunchy, adult musical about three unhappy divorcees who each become entangled with the same mysterious stranger in their quest for love.

Louiza Blomfield, Kelly Roberts and Vanessa de Jager are a formidable trio of leading ladies. Each offers superb singing and a strong characterisation. Their trios are especially impressive.

Jarrad West as the mysterious interloper impresses with a strong, committed performance, but needs to dig deeper into his own undoubted personal charm to make the boorish behaviour of his character palatable.

Michelle Klempke has great fun chewing up the scenery as the interfering town busybody. She gets great support from Dennis Bittisnich as her ineffectual husband. Laura Dawson and Alexander Clubb are charming as the young lovers, while Georgia Foster playing the little girl steals the best laugh of the night with a surprise twist.

Good songs, very well sung by all the cast, arresting performances from the principals, big production numbers featuring energetic dancing, some impressive scenic elements and Rose Shorney’s taut and terrific band, should have guaranteed first-night success.

However, despite everyone’s valiant efforts, the huge technical challenges ultimately proved too much, with principal characters too often unlit at crucial moments, stage hands much too visible, unfocused direction and occasional moments that blurred the fine line between sophistication and tackiness. Recommended for adult audiences.

 

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