THERE’S something new in the fourth edition of Canberra Rep’s, “Jazz Garters” – an underlying theme! Cate Clelland, the director, wisely uses the Canberra Centenary to bind this production together.
There is some fine singing from the large cast in the group numbers, most notably in “Be My Friend”. Ian Croker and the company performed an entertaining “Too Darn Hot”, by Cole Porter and Pamela Jansson, Bronte Forrester and Evan Kirby gave us a strong “Getting Married Today”, the fiendish Stephen Sondheim tongue-twister. Amongst the solo numbers, Janelle McMenamin was a standout as “The Girl In 14G”, mixing opera and jazz apparently effortlessly. Dick Goldberg was delightful performing “I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana” and then topping that later in the show with the hysterical “Model of a Labor Politician”. Kirby’s fine voice was displayed in his thoughtful version of “Lost in the Wilderness” by Stephen Schwartz.
The band, led by James Court, played the large variety of music very well. The set, designed by Andrew Kay, works well for the large numbers, but some of the solos staged towards the back of the set lost impact as a result. Costumes designed by Helen Drum and co-ordinated by Jeanette Brown were eye-catching and effective and the choreography by Lisa Buckley was imaginative, especially in the “Hot Air Song”.
Cate Clelland’s direction keeps the show running smoothly at a fine pace. “Jazz Garters” has always been fun, but it is the Canberra Centenary focus that makes this one a standout.