Posts Tagged ‘meg ham





Underground Productions

Schonell Theatre

1 October – 4 October 2013


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


I’d never seen a production at the Schonell theatre until Tuesday night. Yes, I’d been there years ago when I attended college and there were awards or functions involved. I’ve even sat in a lecture or two in this building where it was close to impossible not to fall asleep in those soft, comfortable chairs. But to see Neil LaBute’s Autobahn staged by Underground Productions here was an entirely different experience.


You won’t have to worry about falling asleep is those damn comfy seats because you will be lead onto the stage where a small selection of chairs has been set up. Then you should fasten your seatbelt because the ride is winding, funny, sad, and vigorous at times.




My only lament is the arrangement of the seating. If you’re not in the front row you’re not going to see the show. It reminds me of when we were small children in the car playing Corners. You leaned far left when the car swung a corner, then far right when the car turned again, your parents yelled “Stop that now, don’t make me turn this car around,” and we cried “Yes! Yes! Turn the car around again!” That’s what it’s like sitting in the rows of the audience, leaning this way and that trying to get any view at all of the actors.


But for what was seen it was certainly an entertaining show. The cast, with Director, Meg Ham, had three weeks to put this production together and you can see on their faces each one of them want to say, “Come look what we have to show you!” And it is impressive how the mood shifts from scene to scene. Each of these vignettes has a completely different aura to the last but the transition is seamless.


I’m always curious about these collaboration shows…who owns what? Is there a copyright to each line, each character’s twitch or little habit? When the cast performs the show does one of them beam inward just a little, knowing that was their line, that’s their little signature on the show? Or is it a soviet union of actors’ creations, all for one and one for all. Everyone owns a little piece of the play and everyone does a little bit of the work? You can never truly know unless you’re there, inside the messy process of creating something yourself.


Autobahn seems to be something like that, a hybrid of the two. It’s an invisible car crash of creations. It’s like looking at your side mirrors and not seeing the oncoming car, but seeing a little moment flash by.


When you spot one of these minimalist productions that try to breach a new idea don’t hesitate. Flick on your blinkers, turn into the parking lot and see the show.





Tell Me On a Sunday

Tell Me On a Sunday

Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Mina Parade Warehouse

Wednesday March 21st – Saturday March 23rd 2013


Reviewed by Michelle Bull


Tell Me On a Sunday has been performed by the likes of Sarah Brightman, Marti Webb (the original “the girl”), Bernadette PetersDenise Van Outen, and many more great performers. You can read a really interesting early history of the show over at Wiki.



Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me on a Sunday explores the story of Emma; a young English girl from Muswell Hill, tumbling headfirst into a journey towards love and heartache, and discovering self worth and more about her own identity on the way. Directed by Meg Ham, Harvest Rain have packed out the theatre with this latest production and I’m sure will have enjoyed a sold out season.


Taking the lead role of Emma is Erika Naddei, a fresh face on the musical theatre scene with a swag of successful performances already under her belt, and it is clear this is one performer to watch.


There are singers who are led by the notes on a page, who rely on the ‘money-notes’ to sell a song and equate feeling with nothing other than a good old ‘belt’… and then there are singers who are led by subtleties of text, an honesty of sound and the story they are telling; in Harvest Rain’s production, hot talent Erika Naddei definitely falls into the latter category.


With a clear light soprano, Naddei delivers this 50min 1 woman song cycle with vocal finesse and poise, no mean feat seeing as for the majority of the show the character remains in a state of serious lovelorn angst.


The opening of the show was played at a highly charged emotional level, and this I felt was a challenging place to begin for the audience. We were given little to no time to get to know ‘Emma’ before watching her unravel, this made it harder to develop empathy for her and restricted the characters growth as the production progressed. I also felt this in evidently caused the journey to plateau in a pretty raw emotional place. This was somewhat alienating, however the demands of this choice were managed well by Naddei whose energy and commitment to character remained strong throughout.


I did however find myself wishing for a greater degree of subtlety overall so that the characters journey could be explored with more honesty.


Naddei displayed a wonderful ability to engage with the text, skillfully uncovering layers of her character through a delicate and balanced vocal delivery. I really wanted this ‘less is more’ approach taken in the transitions between songs, where the characters ongoing torment/indecision/reflection lacked the integrity of the musical moments. Here I found the delivery to be rather one dimensional, a stark contrast to the honesty present in the songs. The production moved with a steady momentum however, and this made these slightly awkward moments quickly forgiven as Naddei’s vocal continuously brought us back to a sense of truth. Favorites were the beautiful Unexpected Song and the rousing Take That Look off Your Face.


The warehouse is such a great space and the theatre had a great sense of intimacy. Set to a backdrop of handwritten letters, packing boxes and a stately staircase alluding to a ‘half empty’ apartment, David Lawrence’s design echoed the sense of transition we see the character living through. Some elements lacked finesse, (hand painted props bug me every time!) Although the ‘wall of letters’ was a great contemporary aesthetic that could have easy been a medium with which the character could engage. An opportunity missed perhaps?


Tell Me on a Sunday is a legitimate offering of a classic and widely known work that offers all your favorites packaged just the way you like them. I didn’t feel overly challenged by this production and feel that while seamless, it remained in a nice but very ‘safe’ place. Given the talent of its lead and jam-packed libretto; a smidgeon of grit in the delivery and direction could have taken this production beyond the traditional ‘music theatre mold’ and into something more engaging on a different level. It occasionally falls victim to excess at the price of integrity, but offers up this wholeheartedly and with just enough musical truth to be forgiven.


The biggest discovery of the night was the beautiful voice of Erika Naddei and her moments of great musical honesty make me sure of this young performers undoubted future success within the Industry.