Posts Tagged ‘rocky horror picture show

30
Jan
18

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

 

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

Gordon Frost Organisation, GWB Entertainment and Howard Panter Ltd

QPAC Concert Hall

January 19 – February 11 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Don’t dream it, be it.

 

The message has never been clearer: you can be whatever you want to be. But somewhere along the way, has Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show taken this lesson a little too literally, and lost some sense of self?

 

It’s still a ridiculously fun, kitsch show (a ridiculous, fun, kitsch show) – it’s even retained a little bit of its naughtiness (the bed scene is still hilarious, although, thank Adam, not quite as lewd) – but it seems it’s not only the size of the production that’s been scaled back. With Craig McLachlan’s departure from this slick little mini-production from London and even less time allowed than in 2014 for the double entendres and sight gags to sink in, it’s no longer a wild and untamed thing. Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is practically PG.

 

 

In London, in 1973 the very first Rocky Horror Show genuinely shocked audiences, and with the 1975 release of the film (a dismal failure at first, and let’s not even speak of the appalling remake from 2015), based on the stage production by Richard O’Brien, this strange encounter of virgins and phantoms and aliens quickly became a cult classic. The show has played all over the world non-stop for 45 years, and in case you were unaware, an audience participation ‘script’ informs both screenings and live performances, although the Brisbane Cards 4 Sorrow crowd (if that’s who they were. Incidentally, their next floorshow is in March; check it out here) didn’t get much of a look in this time, the couple of determined callouts deflected without hesitation by Narrator, Cameron Daddo, superbly and very suavely his natural self in this coveted role). Perhaps they felt, after the initial bold outburst, that QPAC’s Concert Hall was not the place for it…

 

Tim Curry remembers the moment he realized that his performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in “The Rocky Horror Show,” the London stage precursor to the 1975 cult film, was no longer his alone.

 

David Bowie and his wife at the time, Angela, were in the audience that night in 1973. Onstage, Frank, the hypersexual alien mad scientist, was being held at ray-gunpoint by his former servants, Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn). They were about to shoot when Ms. Bowie shouted, ‘‘No, don’t do it!”

 

Indeed, the Concert Hall feels like the least likely space in which to experience Rocky Horror, but Mamma Mia! continues to claim the Lyric until February 4. According to one of the venue’s producers, we’ll likely see more of this use of the Concert Hall, which has historically been home to artists and acts of a slightly different ilk. Perhaps the precedent was set by Harvest Rain, with their full-scale musicals in this space before a move across the road, or had it been set already? It’s truly magnificent to have so much coming to Brisbane that QPAC (booked ahead for years you understand), must utilise every space, but by the same token, it’s a firm reminder that we are in desperate need of another performing arts venue in Brisbane that doesn’t also serve as a convention centre or conference location.

 

In exciting news for independent artists, presenters and producers seeking a brand new and intimate performance space, XS Entertainment is issuing an invitation to come play with us on the Sunshine Coast. 

Email xanthe@xsentertainment.com.au for available dates and details. 

 

It could be said that this version of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show continues to suffer from its smaller scale, although probably not if you’ve never seen it live on stage before…

 

 

A couple of Rocky Horror virgins joined me on opening night, and despite some confusion surrounding the story and some horror/mock horror moments – cold blooded murder and beneath-the-bed-sheet sight gags – they enjoyed the show and the performances from a cast rocked by allegations against the previous leading man, made before the Brisbane season commenced, by Christie Whelan Brown, Erika Heynatz and Angela Scundi, cast members from the 2014 production and, for the record, as far as I can see, all without reason to fabricate anything against anyone to further their careers. (Honestly. The things people say). Regardless of our understanding of the facts, the women experienced something that negatively affected them.

 

It doesn’t matter if we would not be affected in the same way. What happens to a person happens to them in a way that no one else can ever fully appreciate. It is a person’s right to feel the way they feel about a situation. 

 

The producers had told us in the early press, “this is sure to be an even wilder and sexier night out than ever before…” and perhaps it is, if you don’t get out much. The reward this time, if you’ve seen the show before, is in the night out itself, the whole event of going to the theatre with friends, a bit of fun, and also, thankfully, in solid performances across the board.

 

 

The standout, however, is Kristian Lavercombe, with more than a thousand performances to his name as Riff Raff. Again, he’s absolutely sensational, building vocally on the work we’d heard previously and deceiving us into thinking we’re witnessing Richard O’Brien’s soul take up residence in another body. Amanda Harrison holds her own as the Usherette and Magenta. (It’s a really tough gig to keep us enthralled throughout that opening number of obscure sci-fi references and plot points!)

 

 

It seems appropriate to note that one of the best ever in this dual role, Jayde Westaby, can be seen across the hall until February 4 as Tanya in Mamma Mia!

 

 

Brendan Irving is, once again, just beautiful as the all-singing, all-posing, all-glittering and glistening Rocky, bringing to life a scene that threatens to slow the bull-in-a-china-shop pace if it were not for his impressive posturing. The hand mic, used inexplicably by both Rocky and Frank-N-Furter for this scene and the following, loses its potency after about three seconds, becoming a distraction. I’ve never understood its inclusion. Also, Irving’s an aerialist and I’m still confounded as to why his considerable skill in the air hasn’t been incorporated by Director, Christopher Luscombe. The bizarre interruption of Eddie (James Bryers) also lightens the mood before it turns gruesome, with Frank’s response to the appearance of this unwelcome guest. Unfortunately, Hot Patootie is turned into an untidy non-event rather than featuring as the fully choreographed showstopper it might be (and wasn’t it, in 1992?). This time the morbid game of chainsaw cat and mouse played out across the stage is chaotic, but doesn’t add to the excitement of the show. This oddity, common in blockbuster smash hits demanding more of the marketing and publicity teams than of the touring company, occurs across the entirety of the show, with the exception of Lavercombe’s Riff Raff and Rob Mallet’s (adorable) Brad. The ensemble is rounded out by Michelle Smitheram as Janet, Nadia Komazec as Columbia and Phantoms, Bianca Baykara, Ross Chisari, Hayley Martin and Stephen McDowell. The on-stage band is ably led to light speed by MD Dave Skelton.

 

As for Australia’s newest superstar, Adam Rennie turns the role on its head to become the sweetest transvestite we’ve ever seen. It’s true, he’s missing some specificity and physical extravagance (Tim Curry speaks about creating the character here), at least on opening night, although he may have spiced things up and nailed more precise movement (and electrifying stillness) towards the end of the season, but he’s gorgeous and he makes it his own. His is a thoroughly entertaining performance, marked especially by sensational singing and his unique sweet and cheeky take on the role. In fact, whether or not he means to, Rennie comes across as just about the antithesis of McLachlan’s leering hyper sexual alien scientist. And despite being at odds with the character’s placement and purpose in the story, it’s refreshing, perfectly non-threatening, and perfect for this (political climate) light, fun, smash-hit re-staging, which really does appear to assume we’ve seen it all before, and also, that its audiences will continue to get younger and younger… (The film retained its R-Rating in some countries for the single silhouetted sex scene). QPAC advises: This show has rude parts…parental guidance recommended.

 

Why go back again and again to Rocky Horror? It makes little to no sense, neither its costumes (Sue Blane) nor its fluid sexuality are particularly shocking anymore, and we can watch the original film, which is arguably the best version anyway, whenever we like. But there’s something irresistible, isn’t there, about the electric energy of a live glam rock infused performance, and the permission to relinquish judgment and inhibitions, as well as the fleeting connection with strangers in a dark space, lost in time, and lost in space. And meaning.

 

 

Enjoy the ride and take what you will, again, from Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show.

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15
Jan
14

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

 

The Rock n Roll Musical

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

Ambassador Theatre Group & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

January 10 – February 9 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

#openingnightstyle

LBD from The Vault, Levante fishnets, Siren stilettos and Salita Matthews Annapurna necklace

 

“It’s a party!” Tim Maddren

 

“You could not fit another punter in with a tub of vaseline and a shoe horn.” Craig McLachlan

 

“You can feel it in the audience…They just go apeshit!” Richard O’Brien

 

Rocky Horror Show. Image by Jeff Busby.

 

Christopher Luscombe’s 40th Anniversary production of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is a good deal more conservative than expected but this doesn’t make it any less naughty, or any less fun!

 

If you need to read this review go ahead, but if you trust me, and a six-minute full house standing ovation cum moshpit on opening night, you’ll follow this link and book now for the Rocky Horror Show, running for just 5 weeks at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre. Whether or not you love this show (it’s crazy, ridiculously so, without much of a plot and really, it’s pretty clunky), you have to admire the savvy confidence of producers, John Frost and Howard Panter, and of its star for the second time ’round, Craig McLachlan. You might have seen him get his strut on 22 years ago…you might have had your doubts about how he’d go this time…well, you might be surprised!

 

Craig McLachlan NAILS IT!

 

As the master of the house and creator of the creature, McLachlan sets the pace, drives the show and needs the rest of the company to step up and match his energy, his sass and his blatant tongue-in-cheek performance. And I’m sure they will. Perhaps they already have. McLachlan’s is a level of confidence that set him apart on opening night, but once everybody relaxes and remembers that it’s okay to have as much fun as the audience is having, this production will prove it’s more than a just a trip down memory lane for loyal fans, and an extraordinary introduction to a cult classic for newcomers.

 

Christie Whelan Browne, Tim Maddren & Craig McLachlan

 

In case you’ve actually been living on another planet since 1975 or you’re a legit naive newbie and didn’t do your research (shame on you!), here are the key plot points. Don’t worry about transitions or linking devices. There aren’t any.

 

The Usherette (the gorgeous Erika Heynatz), clad in cotton candy pink, welcomes us with the contextualising song Science Fiction

 

Brad and Janet (Tim Maddren and Christie Whelan Browne) attend a friend’s wedding, Brad asks Janet to marry him, she accepts, and they drive out to find the guy who began it, when they met in his science “examit”, Dr Scott (a miscast Nicholas Christo).

 

Due to a flat tire, on the dark, rainy night in the middle of nowhere, Brad and Janet discover a castle (a beautiful rendition from the company of Over At The Frankenstein House), and they are welcomed by Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe is fantastic), Magenta (Erika Heynatz again, with a little less sass and grit in this role than I’d anticipated), Columbia (a smiling, sparkling Ashlea Pyke) and a budget conscious, conservatively clothed four Phantoms (Vincent Hooper, Luigi Lucente, Megan O’Shea and Angela Scundi).

 

The Time Warp. Image by Jeff Busby.

 

They do The Time Warp and strip the bewildered Brad and Janet down to their underwear. As you do.

 

The Master, Frank-N-Furter, appears and wows them and us with the showstopper, Sweet Transvestite, in case we weren’t sure about his orientation or intentions…

 

Frank-N-Furter takes Brad and Janet to his lab, where they meet The Creature, Rocky (Brendan Irving and his abs) and Eddie (much more comfortable in this role is Nicholas Christo. Just to clarify, Christo is gorgeous and super talented and, well, let’s welcome him back to cabaret real soon!).

 

What follows is a night of debauchery and the deflowering of both Brad and Janet – though not together – and Brad sings the sweet ballad Once In A While, which was in the original stage show and cut from the film, but probably should not have been. Richard O’Brien notes (hilariously, I think!),“One of the things about the show is that it needed cuts, but I think now that was possibly because of the fact they didn’t understand it.” Ha! Luckily for us, we have the good natured and disarmingly charming Narrator, Tony Farrell, to help us follow (and I use the word cautiously) the narrative.

 

The residents reveal themselves to be aliens, and anybody still living performs in a flashy, suitably tacky floorshow with Frank-N-Furter before his grisly demise.

 

Finally, inextricably, Riff Raff and Magenta return home to their beloved Transylvania in outer space, leaving Brad and Janet to ponder their strange night of sex with aliens. AS YOU DO.

 

Highlights? Richard O’Brien, the original creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its original Riff Raff, on stage in flesh-coloured leggings, boots and his trademark leopard print, to lead the company (and the audience) in yet another encore of The Time Warp. Oh, and catching up with the man himself after the show, although, tragically, he didn’t remember me. I sat with him to see a tech run of the show (starring Marcus Graham) in 1996. (There’s not a lot online about this production but this hater certainly thought very little of it! I loved it, but then I saw more of it than most!). O’Brien was the strangest, most fascinating man I’d ever met. Clearly, I didn’t leave much of an impression on him.

 

With Richard O'Brien The Rocky Horror Show

Too bad Richard O’Brien didn’t remember me. Of course I looked much younger then whereas he looked, incredibly, pretty much the same as he does now.

 

Oh, you meant highlights from the show? Right. Well, Christie Whelan Browne sings absolutely perfectly. She and Maddren are ideal for these simplistic roles, in fact they’re almost too good, and they can both get down and dirty a little more methinks (they might as well do, there’s so little for them to play with within the roles themselves!), but even so, their performances will earn both artists an entirely new fan base, as well as cementing their spots at the top of the musical theatre tree.

 

McLachlan throwing in the additional lyric, “Cards 4 Sorrow” at the end of the show, giving those from the Brisbane floor show, who’d dressed especially, quite a thrill! (And if you’re THAT big a fan, of course I don;t need to tell you; you will have already downloaded the Callback Companion app).

 

The lively four-piece band, comprising Carlo Barbaro (saxophone), Glenn Moorehouse (guitar), Brett Canning (bass) and Mark Charters (drums), and MD Dave Skelton rock! They produce a surprisingly full sound, which serves this rock n roll musical production very well.

 

Costumes designed by Sue Blane (including a change especially for the final reprise of The Time Warp), the designer credited over and above Vivienne Westwood by O’Brien and Patricia Quinn (Magenta in the movie), for having created punk, giving us instantly recognisable characters, and a simple and serviceable old-school set, designed by Hugh Durrant. I loved the celluloid strip, a brilliant touch.

 

And before re-stating the obvious, it must be said out loud in print online here that in 1973 on stage and in 1975 on screen, Rocky Horror was indeed, rather risqué. But this production plays it very safe, and I was looking forward to a degree of updated shock factor, as well as the nostalgia and the slight nod to all things sexy and naughty. Despite their terrific vocal work, I feel the Phantoms are wasted (either feature them or don’t!), and most of the characters can do with a little more grunt and pelvic thrust! Literally! Columbia is gorgeous but Pyke underplays her (it might actually be impossible to better Little Nell’s performance), and as sexy as she is, instead of leaping through it, when Magenta gets a window she barely nudges it open with her big toe. Dr Scott has no significant trait other than his containment in a wheelchair, and Eddie’s number, Hot Patootie, which is historically one of the musical highlights of the show, is reminiscent of a runner-up-in-the-ratings-race TV talent show.

 

It’s a fine line and this company is good enough to walk it in stilettos, if only Luscombe had let them explore a little more, rather than respecting so highly the tried and true two dimensional original characters. Having said that, from all YouTube evidence, and judging by the pace and the the superb staging of this production, I’d say Luscombe has out-directed even the Broadway revival production.

 

I’d love to see this Rocky Horror Show again by the end of the season to see if those energy levels have gone through the roof, and to see if the “good-humoured naughtiness” has reached an all-time cheeky low. I respect that McLachlan has had 22 years to re-locate that perverted place, but let’s see if the rest of the company can find it!

 

 

And so, as you were warned, to re-state the obvious, McLachlan.

 

 

Craig McLachlan is THE highlight of this production and I don’t care if you never want to see Rocky Horror again, you MUST go see it because McLachlan’s is an exceptional performance, exquisitely crafted, with a nod to just about every famous Frank-N-Furter we’ve ever seen, and a long, loud, deliberate peal of laughter in the face of everything that’s ever been referred to as “risqué”. Go on, give yourself over; even if you hate it, you’ll love it!

 

 

 

10
Jan
14

The Rocky Horror Show Opens Tonight!

Get ready to do The Time Warp again!

The Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Jeff Busby.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW OPENS IN BRISBANE TONIGHT

 

The 2014 Australian tour of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show kicks off tonight at a Gala Premiere at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane attended by the writer and composer Richard O’Brien.

 

The Brisbane season will be followed by seasons at the Crown Theatre Perth in February, the Festival Theatre Adelaide in March, and the Comedy Theatre Melbourne in April.

 

The talented and extraordinary cast is led by television and theatre star Craig McLachlan in the coveted role of Frank N Furter, alongside musical theatre favourites Christie Whelan Browne as Janet, Tim Maddren as Brad, Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff and Erika Heynatz as Magenta. Ashlea Pyke plays Columbia, Eddie and Dr Scott are played by Nicholas Christo, Rocky is Brendan Irving and the Narrator is played by Tony Farrell. Completing the cast are Vincent HooperLuigi LucenteJames Maxfield, Meghan O’Shea and Angela Scundi.

 

Cast-of-The-Rocky-Horror-Show-with-Richard-OBrien-c-Shane-OConnor

 

“We are thrilled to have found the perfect cast for the 40th Anniversary Australian tour of this much loved iconic musical,” said producers Howard Panter and John Frost. “We thought audiences would love to do the Time Warp again with these wonderful performers, and with ticket sales going through the roof in every city, we’ve been proved right. Previews have been sold out, and the audiences have given themselves over to absolute pleasure. If you have voyeuristic intentions, you know what to do – buy a ticket before it’s sold out, and before madness takes its toll.”

 

The Rocky Horror Show is a true classic and one of theatre’s most endearing and outrageously fun shows. It opened at London’s Royal Court Theatre on June 19, 1973, quickly developing a cult following, and was adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has the longest-running release in film history. This iconic brand holds a unique place in theatre history, a show which has defied the decades and continued to grow in popularity. In 2010 the music of Rocky Horror was showcased in the smash hit TV show Glee, seen by over 20 million people worldwide. Rocky Horror even has its own postage stamp.

 

The Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Jeff Busby.

 

Millions of people all over the world have seen and continue to see  productions of The Rocky Horror Show, and sung along to classics like Sweet Transvestite, Dammit Janet, I Can Make You A Man, Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, Over At The Frankenstein Place and of course The Time Warp.

 

LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!

 

 

 

17
Jun
13

It’s Raining Me & Julie, Madly, Deeply – Tom Sharah and Sarah-Louise Young shine at The Noosa Long Weekend Festival!

It’s Raining Me & Julie, Madly, Deeply

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

The J Theatre

Sunday 16th June 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

This was the most extraordinary double bill! And it worked!

 

As I’d said to Festival Director, Ian Mackellar, after the show, I’d been wondering how a Julie Andrews tribute show (it’s so much more than that!), could follow up a spunky original cabaret. As it turned out, the programming was perfect for a number of reasons.

 

We’ve seen some cautious programming over the years, and on the strength of some of his previous cautious gambles paying off – for example, our Erotique, which enjoyed an extended season at Noosa Arts Theatre in 2012 – our Festival Director is able to make increasingly bolder decisions. And audiences love it!

 

It’s Raining Me

Tom Sharah

 

2013 Noosa Long Weekend Festival MACQUARIE © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

The first act belonged to relative newcomer to the cabaret scene, Tom Sharah, who you might recognise from his debut at The Noosa Long Weekend in 2010 (Que Sera, Sharah), or from his stint on Ten’s brilliantly conceived but strangely unpopular Priscilla, Queen of the Desert inspired reality television talent show I Will Survive, which serves as the fodder for this show, based on his experiences over three and a half months spent in the Australian outback, with the other contestants – “the boys” – on the silver bus. Sharah didn’t win, he was runner-up, and like so many second place getters, he’s mapped out a path that will take him ahead of the rest.

 

Suffice to say; when I use the term, “relative newcomer”, I use it loosely. Sharah won the Sydney Cabaret Showcase in 2009 (see last year’s winner of the Australian Cabaret Showcase, Bradley McCaw, on Sunday night at berardo’s), and premiered his one-man show Que Sera, Sharah at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which led to engagements at Sydney Mardi Gras, Melbourneʼs Midsumma Festival and the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, as well as three sell-out Sydney seasons.

 

Sharah regales us with many amusing anecdotes during the show, including a hilarious chicken run tale — picture the lovely looking Sharah in heels and a wig chasing and diving for chickens in a coop – surprisingly (or not) the segment didn’t air. The personal stories help to contextualise the song choices and demonstrate Sharah’s ability to connect with his audience. It’s quite an intimate atmosphere, despite the generous space in The J, because Sharah invites us in and chats effortlessly with us, as if we were sitting at his breakfast table.

 

2013 Noosa Long Weekend Festival MACQUARIE © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

I loved so many of the songs but my favourite number, and the real start to the show (the third song in) was Let Me Be Your Star from SMASH! The lyric seemed to sum up everything he’d told us in the opening patter and poignantly reminded us that those with the drive and passion in this industry will usually get what they want! In case we missed that message, Sharah belted us over the head with it in an absolutely spectacular rendition of Here I Stand, from the film Camp. The audience adored The Facebook Song and a sassy mash-up of Sweet Transvestite and Natural Woman.

 

I have to mention that Sharah has a younger brother, Oscar, who is also stupidly talented and cute to boot! A beautiful arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours indicated that Sharah may need to quit inviting his brother to join him onstage, as the audience responded very generously to his singing and guitar playing! (The response is also an indication of Noosa Long Weekend audiences, expecting a top night of entertainment and getting it in abundance!).

 

From the eccentric child who used a cricket bat given to him by his father as a microphone, to the eccentric adult, who can think of nothing better than landing the role of Frank N Furter in John Frost’s upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (“It’s on my bucket list!”), It’s Raining Me is a fabulously funny and entertaining show. Sharah has a way to go in terms of total confidence, but the stage persona is larger than life and the voice is superior.  He’s a born entertainer.

 

 

2013 Noosa Long Weekend Festival MACQUARIE © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGESAND YOU CAN TAKE HIM HOME

 

 


Remember to pick up the EP after the show, have Sharah sign it and get your photos for social media.

 

 

With an extensive, easy vocal range, and a flamboyant style all his own, Sharah will do much more than survive; he’s a star on the rise. Look out for this show and go see him shine when you get the chance.

 

Julie, Madly, Deeply

Sarah-Louise Young

International cabaret artist Sarah-Louise Young has been named one of Time Out Londonʼs Top 10 Cabaret Acts. She performed extensively in London and New York, and sold out her critically acclaimed solo shows at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Noosa Long Weekend Festival (do you remember? She played seven characters!), as well as in Sydney and Melbourne. Widely known in the UK, her original songs and unique character comedy have earned her awards and critical acclaim from Edinburgh to Berlin.

 

In 2011 Sarah-Louise joined the legendary Fascinating Aida, making her debut with them at the Edinburgh Fringe and touring nationally before a West End run. She is also a member of the award winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, appearing with them in Edinburgh and the West End and on BBC Radio. All this is in addition to extensive UK television credits, and theatre work that includes plays at the Royal Exchange and National Theatre, as well as national and international tours.

 

2013 Noosa Long Weekend Festival MACQUARIE © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGESJulie, Madly, Deeply showcases her diverse range of skills and challenges audiences to look at Julie Andrews in a different light.

 

I only knew Sarah’s stellar cabaret performances from the YouTube footage recorded at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, but her new show demonstrates an uncanny ability to put a string of brilliant ideas together in an entertaining, and moving way to create a show unlike any other.

 

Loved and adored by millions around the globe, Dame Julie Andrews is a genuine legend of entertainment. But does Mary Poppins ever long to let her hair down at the end of a hard day? Does Maria Von Trapp ever wish she was called sexy instead of saccharine? In this loving and affectionate pastiche, Miss Squeaky-Clean finally comes clean.

 

Everybody’s favourite Julie Andrews songs are seamlessly intertwined with stories and anecdotes from Andrewsʼ own life, as well as a selection of witty and insightful elaborations. What emerges is a delightful and mischievous love letter to a true show business survivor.

 

From wrangling child actors in Salzburg, to going topless on film; from seeing Audrey Hepburn steal her role in My Fair Lady, to hearing Christopher Plummer say that working with her was “like being hit over the head with a Hallmark Card” – Julie Madly Deeply gives audiences the chance to hear ʻJulieʼ explain how she copes with the constant pressure of having to be practically perfect in every way.

 

2013 Noosa Long Weekend Festival MACQUARIE © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

The mimicry is delightful and the comedy razor-sharp. Self-confidence and improvisational skills are put to the test when the various characters along the way start to select their own accents… Sarah-Louise laughs and tells us gleefully (something like), “Before the show I put all the accents in a bag and told the characters to GRAB ONE!” What might be perceived in anyone else’s performance as a careless or under-rehearsed slip-up comes across convincingly as an endearing tactic to get past a slightly awkward moment. And a couple of quick, sweet jibes at the audience, including, “You didn’t get the Marni Nixon reference so you won’t get this one” only serve to bring us closer to the artist and the character. A less accomplished performer would have made a right, royal mess of anything of the sort. Clever girl.

 

Most impressive is the way Sarah-Louise manages to manipulate us, at first wooing us and gently gaining our trust, before pushing us over the edge and beyond an emotional response at which we were teetering…it’s delicious. It’s the kind of theatricality that makes Sam and I turn to each other and go, “Phoar!”. The dark moments come as complete surprises – just a couple, perfectly placed and timed – because we already felt like we knew Julie. And now we’re not so sure. But we still LOVE Julie. Even though we now feel the need to take a step back. Just as when a star throws a phone at the Concierge wall, or lashes out at the paps… The momentary shock is perhaps replaced by a deeper understanding of anyone who seems destined to live out his or her life in the spotlight.

 

This performance, for The Noosa Long Weekend Festival, was Sarah-Louise Young’s WORLD PREMIERE, the slickest world premiere I’ve ever seen. This is a show – and a stunning performer – ready for the world stage.

 




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