QPAC Choir 30 Years of Musicals
QPAC Concert Hall
June 23 2015
Reviewed by Katy Cotter
QPAC is turning 30 this year and to celebrate, the QPAC Choir presented a magnificent showcase of musical theatre hits.
In 1985 on the 7th of February, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance was the first of many glorious productions to entertain Brisbane audiences. There have been over 100 musicals performed at QPAC, with some of those being return seasons.
The Choir was led by the veracious and accomplished Tim Sherlock and accompanied by the talented Tina Liu.
It is easy at times to look beyond the choirmaster, although my eye was continually drawn back to Sherlock, who was extremely attentive to each and every member of the Choir, guiding them through memorable musical tunes.
The concert began with the dramatic overture from The Phantom of the Opera, performed with skill and proficiency by Brendan Murtagh on the Klias Grand Organ. The lighting was dim and Murtagh was lost from view as he no doubt sat on high behind an illustrious wooden console. The audience looked up at the pipes reaching towards the high-ceiling, our ears filled with glorious sound. And then silence. The overture came to an abrupt end with the audience unsure whether to applaud, symbolising the grandeur of Lloyd Webber’s score.
Feet started tapping and fingers started clicking as the familiar riff of All That Jazz from Chicago began. The lights came up on the members of the QPAC Choir (over 100 of them) and an immediate feeling of warmth and joy radiated from the group. The Choir consists of people of various ages and performance backgrounds that share a common passion – music. There was something cathartic about listening to a large group of people singing together. It reminded me of how powerful music is in connecting human beings. The Choir gave it their all, with Sherlock showing off his best dance moves, welcoming the audience to join them in the celebration. This energy was sustained throughout the night.
A superb Rodgers and Hammerstein medley followed, featuring songs from The King and I, South Pacific, Carousel and one of my all-time favourites, The Sound of Music. A projection screen hung above the Choir providing a visual aid for the audience, displayed famous posters and stills from both theatre and movie productions. There was Julie Andrews as Maria, sitting on a hill of green grass with a guitar perched on her knee and the Von Trapp children gathered around. The Choir’s angelic voices enticed me back into fond memories of childhood.
The night showcased some truly outstanding performances from the 3rd Year Music Theatre students at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. These young artists proved that they are the future of musical theatre. Emily Monsma emanated charm and charisma as she sung Popular from Wicked. Tim Carroll had everyone holding their breath as he performed Tonight from West Side Story. Then came the lovers’ duet, All I Ask of You from The Phantom of the Opera.
Hayley Maybury and Oliver Samson have outstanding voices, with technical prowess and stage presence beyond their years. Samson felt like an old soul to me and no doubt will have a successful career.
The showstopper from the students was definitely Lloyd Webber’s trio of love songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, Song and Dance and Aspects of Love. Sarah Murr is captivating to watch, connecting with each word and hitting those high notes with such power and control. Jacqui McLaren appears delicate and composed but there is an unrelenting rawness to her voice that demands to be heard.
Not only is Hayley Maybury’s high range exquisite, she is beautiful and commands the stage. I can see her playing many leading ladies in the future.
The students were accompanied, and are being guided through their education at QCGU by the incredible Paul Sabey.
The moment that brought a tear to my eye was when Choir soloist, Charlie Tutt, sang Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Words seem somewhat obsolete but there was a mesmerising quality to his voice that filled every heart in the room.
The energy soon lifted and the lights glowed red as the Choir sang their tribute to Jersey Boys. The guest musicians never missed a beat, remaining poised but also bopping along, losing themselves in the music. People were getting restless in their seats, itching to get up and dance. It was Dancing Queen from Mamma Mia that saw a few audience members jump to their feet and swing their hips. A disco ball lowered from the ceiling and everyone joined in singing.
The night was a true celebration. Happy Birthday, QPAC!