Review / Snappy cast falls short on solos

musical theatre
“Showtune”
Canberra Repertory Society.
At Theatre 3 until July 5
Reviewed by Bill Stephens

FEATURING around 40 of Jerry Herman’s best songs from eight of his most successful Broadway shows, this production of “Showtune” boasts a hard-working ensemble cast of 12 performers, including musical director Leisa Keen.

The songs are presented, not as scenes from the shows for which they were written, but cleverly grouped to expose fresh nuances in the lyrics.

They’re performed, without connecting dialogue, on a stylish set designed by Andrew Kay, with lots of colourful costumes by Christine Pawlicki, and some impressive, well-rehearsed ensemble numbers, which have been cleverly staged by director Jordan Kelly to disguise the lack of dance skills in his well-drilled cast. The scene changes are imaginative and snappy.

However, “Showtune” is about the songs, and many of Herman’s songs were written to showcase the talents of highly skilled Broadway star performers. Despite their best efforts, no-one in this cast possesses either the vocal skills or stage presence to do the solo songs justice. “Time Heals Everything” and “Shalom” expressively performed by Keen, accompanying herself at the piano, point the way.

Despite strong performances from Liz de Totth, Sarah Hull and Janelle McMenamin, and entertaining moments from Ben Hardy, Nathan Kellie and John Kelly, it is Jordan Kelly’s brilliantly staged and well-sung ensemble numbers that make this show worth braving the Canberra cold.

 

 

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