Arts / Funnyman Phil leaps from the Wharf

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The Wharf Revue’s power people, from left, Donald Trump (Jonathan Biggins), Ivanka Trump (Blazey Best), Boris Johnson (Phil Scott) and Vladimir Putin (Drew Forsythe). Photo by Brett Boardman

IT’S time for change at The Wharf Revue which, co-founder, musician and comedian Phil Scott suggests, could be dismissed by younger people as a lot of old blokes pointing at things and whingeing.

But, as Scott prepares to take off his comedic boxing gloves he notes: “Whoever takes over needs to have an idea of who does what in the political scene”.

“CityNews” catches up with him the day after the revue has opened its newest season, “The Patriotic Rag”, in Wollongong, where they often do early, try-out performances.

“This is our 18th year, but some years we have done two shows so it’s more like 25 or something like that,” he says.

“This is my last one, I’ve given notice and, after this one, it will be going on without me,” he says.

“I still rate the show with the boys, but now I’m going to do different things. It’s time to move on… but there’s no animosity.

“The new director of the Sydney Theatre ompany, Kip Williams, is only in his 30s and he’s got an idea he’d like young voices to come through, without wrecking it, I hope.”

But, “CityNews” asks: Isn’t the Wharf Revue intrinsically curmudgeonly?

“Yes,” Scott replies with a chortle.

Canberra Theatre followers will recall that Scott was behind a cabaret show about Mario Lanza a couple of years ago and now is working on a rags-to-riches-to-rags show about English dancer Lionel Bart, who wrote “Oliver!”.

And what is a patriotic rag? Not a newspaper, we think, but it certainly provides the impetus for a 1930s Ragtime opening number that Scott’s written, which sets the show in the pre-war era.

“Jazz was pre-war and we might be pre-war now, and don’t forget what they say about patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he says.

So what of the many scoundrels does Scott play?

Easy, he says: “I get to perform one of the biggest songs as Kim Jongun singing “You Can’t Stop the Kim”. Besides, it gives him a chance to wear a different wig to his favourite Kevin Rudd one.

But he has competition. Fellow ‘Wharfie” Jonathan Biggins, in one of the finest impersonations of his career, plays Donald Trump as variety show host in which Scott appears as Boris Johnson, guest artist Blazey Best appears as Angela Merkel and Ivanka Trump and Drew Forsythe enters at the end as “best mate” Vladimir Putin.

But they, too, have competition. Forsythe reprises his role as Pauline Hanson, with Best playing James Ashby – “they balance quite nicely” – and then Forsythe returns as Malcolm Roberts in a kind of Don Quixote role.

Scott plays Ahn Do in a brush with fame involving Peter Dutton and in their “Heaven” piece for the year (last year it was Bob Ellis), Biggins does “an extremely good John Clarke”.

The 2017 Sydney Theatre Company Wharf Revue, The Playhouse, September 12-23, bookings to or 6275 2700.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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