Friday, 6 December 2013

The Musical of Musicals, Everyman, Courtyard Studio

I recently mentioned I haven't seen a lot of Canberra musicals this year, between a fair chunk of recycling shows I've seen before, me disappearing for a month, and just plain not being interested in seeing Phantom. And ... in some ways Everyman's "Musical of Musicals" is the eptitome of recycling - it's the same show, the same cast, with a few polishes here and there. 

It's effective recycling, though - I suspect the four key performers, Louiza Blomfield, Adrian Flor, Hannah Ley and Jarrad West have only got stronger as performers in the four years since they last hit the courtyard. And all the memorable moments are back, from the goofy pleasures of "Corn!" to the sleazy dive of "Speakeasy". It's still a fast and frenetic frenzy through five different musical styles, with Joanne Bogart's lyrics and Eric Rockwell's music delivered to maximum effect (though neither are mentioned at all in the program, a bit of a critical oversight...) There is a bit of satire-through-reference (just playing "oh, I spotted what they referred to" isn't the same as a joke, dammit), and some pretty cheap jokes here and there (Flor's introduction as "Big Willy" is pretty much an indication that no easy gag will go un-used), but there's a lot of wit in the performances and it's put over very stylishly. If it's still a little flat at the end of act one, it's mostly that "Dear Abby" is probably the least-funny of the five mini-musicals with not much to say about Jerry Herman beyond "he's a bit cheesy and likes divas". The rest skewer their targets in fine style, with the pianistic assistance of Nick Griffin and some clever choreography from Ley and West.

If there are any concerns, it's ... the recycling thing. Yes, I know, companies like a hit. And this plays like a hit. I just wish it was a little bit ... more. Everyman are, as I've mentioned before, one of my favourite companies. And this is them playing safe. Now that may be an economic necessity, but I hope it doesn't become a force of habit. 

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