15
Jun
15

Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good

 

Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good

Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland Cabaret Festival

& Mackay Entertainment And Convention Centre

Powerhouse Theatre

Sunday June 14 2015

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good. It’s a humble, slightly bemused premise on which to base a show (they’re the words of critics of course), and it works. Mills is sensational, surprising East Coast audiences with his self-deprecating humour, natural musical ability and charisma. Anyone who has seen Mills in a musical theatre production, as Jamie (The Last Five Years), Fiyero (Wicked), Warner (Legally Blonde) or Danny (Grease), won’t be nearly as surprised as the rest. Again, this time within the challenging realm of cabaret, Mills shows his mettle.

 

I loved how they put the word grease in the hair of the logo. It made it exciting as soon as we sat down. The direction was beautiful and the song Sandy almost made me cry in Mum’s lap. Sandy is a beautiful song and Rob Mills sang it perfectly. I’m sure I saw the movie, but I thought this version was much better than the movie.

 

– Poppy Eponine

 

robmillsparishiltonThe “not really a Rodgers and Hammerstein kind of guy” clearly has a ball sharing his personal stories, which stem from a childhood of singing and playing guitar, and a heap of pub gigs followed by his 15 minutes thanks to Australian Idol, and an eclectic assortment of rock songs and musical theatre faves. The show is loosely based around notions of Dancing Through Life (Wicked), [He] Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift) and finding one’s Purpose (Avenue Q).

 

We’ve seen and heard a lot from Mills via TV and THOSE headlines, and he doesn’t shy away from any of it, in fact he relishes all of it (even a boy band medley moment, which is GOLD); he reminisces and laughs with us.

 

 

He’s unashamed and beyond reproach. He’s dancing through life, and why not?

 

Striking the perfect note, Mills opens with Live in Living Colour (Catch Me If You Can). He is at once disarmingly cute, irresistibly charismatic…although he takes a few minutes to comfortably settle into the space.

 

The Powerhouse Theatre is a good deal bigger than the intimate surrounds of RACV Noosa Resort for example, which is where you’ll catch him next, in a Supper Club version of the show during Noosa Long Weekend Festival after a final performance this weekend in Melbourne.

 

There are some static moments, easily fixed by a deep breath, a bolt of confidence and consistent pace (the show picks up after the whole Paris tryst bit), and I feel like the more intimate venues, which allow a closer connection with the audience, will serve Mills well. It’s as if this show has come too soon and also, at precisely the right time for Mills. His gorgeous larrikin characters from musical theatre are somehow at odds with the Rob Mills he professes he wants to be seen as. So there’s clearly another show in this, but it will need to be revealed through the execution of this one.

 

 

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Penned by Mills and Natalie Garonzi, and directed by Tyran Parke, Mills and his hot band (hello, Kuki Tipoki!), led by MD Andrew Worboys, impress and delight the Queensland Cabaret Festival crowd.

 

A final cheeky appearance in the tight white pants of Fiyero seals the deal, in case we weren’t already, er, enamoured. The audacity and cheek of this increasingly confident performer even wins over sceptical Sam, who’s relinquished his +1 role many times, missing some previous performances about which Poppy and I have raved. After the show too, handing out “Surprisingly Good” buttons and posing for selfies by the bar, Mills proves he has the goods to stay at the top of the entertainment tree. So I think it’s time we dropped the “surprisingly good” and acknowledged that Rob Mills is sensational! I’ll look forward to seeing this show again, and whatever it is that must come after it.

 

 

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