Amanda Harrison – Up Close and Reasonably Personal
Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre
With a stage bathed in green, hopes were high that Amanda Harrison would be Defying Gravity during her show “Up Close and Reasonably Personable” until things kicked off with Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead! Finally, after ongoing comic coaxing from pianist Bev Kennedy (who even gives the song a try herself), Harrison’s Elphaba does appear in closing, to belt out a wicked ‘The Wizard and I’.
Harrison is easily one of the most talented leading ladies in Australian musical theatre, best known, of course, for her impressive performance as the original Elphaba in the Australian production of “Wicked”, (which earned her Green Room, Helpmann and Sydney Theatre Award nominations for Best Leading Actress in a Musical). Indeed, Elphaba features frequently in the night’s proceedings, as Amanda reflects on the size and energy of the role, the experience of balancing responsibilities as witch, wife and mother and her ultimate decision to hang up her witch’s hat for the sake of her voice.
And what a voice it is! The intimate (‘within reason’) show features a diverse selection of songs, all of which are clearly of personal significance. Selections range from the perkiness of ‘Sunshine and Lollypops’ to a touching rendition of ‘Tennessee Waltz’, a ‘80s rock chick delivery of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ and the inspiring ‘Let It Go’, from the movie “Frozen”, which Harrison performed at last month’s Carols in the Domain. In true cabaret style, these are intermingled with observations and comic confessions including of her Target fetish and Facebook addiction. The audience, too is encouraged to anonymously share their secrets on slips of paper which are included in the second act, to hilarious effect.
This is a light-hearted cabaret about its star, the delivery of which is, accordingly, friendly and engaging in tone. Unfortunately, a large venue such as the Powerhouse Theatre, is far from the intimate atmosphere that characterises the shared experience of a cabaret. At its core, however, cabaret is about the music and in this area, Harrison excels, showcasing her big voice and impressive ability to hold a note… to sing it high, sing it low and let them know.