Behind the curtain cues and clues

Curtains (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

March 9 – 24


As “Noises Off” has shown us, when it comes to theatre, what happens behind the stage curtain can be more interesting that what audiences see in front, especially when it involves murder. And thanks to a revolving stage at Beenleigh Theatre Group’s Crete Street Theatre, audiences are given ringside seats to all the machinations of the musical murder mystery “Curtains”, the last big musical created by John Kander​ and Fred Ebb of “Cabaret” and “Chicago” fame.


The whodunit of cues and clues is not only a spoof of a backstage murder mystery, but doubles as a love letter to the Broadway stage. It is not set in New York, however, but rather 1959 Boston, where, at opening night of the Broadway-bound cowboy musical “Robbin’ Hood of The Old West”, the talentless leading lady, faded film star diva Jessica Cranshaw (Madi Jennings) is murdered during the curtain call. Suspects abound and when the show is critically panned, the producers need to decide whether to proceed with a new lead or shut down. Carmen (Fiona Buchanan) and Sidney Bernstein (Jarryd Pianca) decide to forge ahead with lyricist Georgia Hendricks (Genevieve) in the lead, which results in rekindle of the faded romance between songwriters Hendricks and Aaron Fox (William Boyd). Enter theatre-obsessed but lonely, married-to-his-job Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (Tony Campbell) to investigate the by-then series of murders, solve the show’s artistic problems and be enchanted by charming ingénue Niki (Lauren-Lee Innis-Youren) who, as understudy, is eager to make her Broadway debut.

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Although the show is a lightweight romp, as a homage to the golden age of Broadway musicals, with many nods to showbiz clichés and stereotypes, “Curtains” is an ambitious choice for any company. The show requires a large cast and there is always a lot happening on stage. Generally, it works and good use is made of the limited stage area to enable a live music soundtrack. The score has the usual musical mix of comedy, ballad and soliloquy songs and from the ‘Overture’ it is evident that the band, under conductor Julie Whiting is excellent, even if its sound initially overplays the voices on stage. But nothing can detract from the disconcerting sound moments of missed cures and microphone level issues that sometimes presented on opening night.


Quality performances add much to the show’s appeal. Jim Price nails the sarcastic comedy of the bitchy director Christopher Belling with perfectly-timed pithy one-lines. And Buchanan brings a confident humour to the role of sassy producer Carmen Bernstein, with risqué double entendres aplenty regarding her philandering husband Sidney. As the replacement leading lady, Tree is vivacious and vocally very good in the big numbers. As her former husband, Boyd is also excellent in numbers like ‘Thinking of Him’, after claiming that his now ex-wife only wants to rekindle a romance with choreographer Bobby (Dylan Hodge), the actor playing Rob Hood and Georgia’s ex-boyfriend.


“Curtains” includes a number of musical highlights, including fun song and dance numbers with plenty of jokey allusions to hits like “Oklahoma!”, “Annie Get Your Gun” and alike in, for example, the up-tempo square dance number ‘Kansasland’. There is also a wonderfully nostalgic nod to Fred and Ginger greatness in both choreography and charm in the romantic ‘A Tough Act to Follow,’ sung and danced by Campbell and Innis-Youren, in which Lieutenant Cioffi lives his dream of being onstage amongst atmosphere dream-sequence-like design.

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Opening night (which perhaps would have been better as a preview) hiccups aside, “Curtains” is clearly an entertaining night out. Although the whodunnit plot is improbably complicated, its theatrical send-up is so buoyant that it is difficult not be joyously bounced along its duration, especially as a fan of musical theatre from that golden age.


All that glitters is Aladdin gold

Aladdin (Disney Theatrical Productions)

QPAC, Lyric Theatre

February 24 – June 3

Disney’s “Aladdin” is spectacular theatre with aesthetics to awe over even in repeat visit. From the moment the fantastic tale opens to the opulence of colour and movement of an Agrabar street scene, Bob Crowley’s Tony Award winning stage design impresses in its Islamic motifs and skyline of Taj domes. Divine, detailed costumes swish and swirl in abundance and luscious lighting brightens the marketplace and bejewels Princess Jasmine (Hiba Elchikhe) as a pretend-to-be-pauper disguised in escape from her palace confines.

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Strong, independent and determined to marry for love, the Sultan’s daughter declares that she is not a prize to be won. However, the story primarily follows the familiar tale of a poor young man, Aladdin (Ainsley Melham), who is granted three wishes by a genie in a lamp (Gareth Jacobs), which he uses to woo the princess and to thwart the evil Grand Vizier, Jafar (Adam Murphy).


As the titular street rat Aladdin, Melham is as charismatically cheeky in well-balanced portrayal of the character’s innocence, mischievousness and suave confidence. Similarly, on-point in performance is Elchikhe, particularly in ‘These Palace Walls’. And in the melodic ‘A Million Miles Away’, their voices blend beautifully as they dream of a life away from their current troubles, in shared excitement despite barely knowing each other.


This is, however, the Genie’s show. And while Jacobs is no Michael James Scott (who starred in the Sydney and Melbourne run through 2016 and 2017), he is still fabulous in his embrace of the freedom that comes with the role. From his initial fourth-wall break in banter with the audience and set-up for the ‘Arabian Nights’ opening number, he is immediately engaging, and not just because of his nod to local cultural references. As Jasmine’s father, the longstanding Sultan ruler of Agraba, George Henare is a stately Senior statesman.  Adam Murphy is an appropriately panto-esque villain as Aladdin’s nemesis Jafar and Aljin Abella is excellent as his accomplice Iago, whether parroting dialogue or in his comical quips. And, in addition from the original film, Adam Jon Fiorentino, Troy Sussman, and Robert Tripolino are all delightful as Aladdin’s entourage of friends, who provide well-synchronised physical comedy, slapstick adventure and lots of fun, especially in Act Two’s ‘High Adventure’ when they storm the palace in attempt to rescue their friend.


Songs include some highly engaging comedic numbers. Indeed, every number is a delight, including those that are new to the stage-version, which feel like they have been a part of the score from the very beginning. But the most impressive musical moment is still Act One’s ‘Friend Like Me’. It’s a case of all the glitters being absolutely gold as the treasure inside of the Genie’s magic lamp is revealed in spectacular sparkle. The not-to-be-forgotten number, which beings as introduction to the Genie’s wish-granting powers, crescendos into a full-chorus, tap-dancing, pyrotechnic cavalcade of excitement and wonder so magnificent in its hybrid of styles that it is still inspires audience members to leap to their feet in mid-show applause upon its conclusion.

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“Aladdin” is a theatrical story whose energy and sense of fun make for a magical experience for all the family, with quick costume transformations, state of the art technology and prop trickery sure to impressive adults and youngsters alike, and the biggest production number you are likely to see. But there are moments of beauty too, such as in the iconic, romantic ‘A Whole New World’ musical number, in which Melham and Elchikhe’s duet while soaring high above a stage transformed into an endless diamond sky, riding on an enchanted carpet, in ‘how did they do that’ spectacle.


Every detail of this lavish show makes for a delightful experience. Indeed, “Aladdin” is quality family-friendly entertainment of the highest order, full of heart and humour. With its simple, moral storytelling, catchy tunes and comic vibrancy, it is an energetic and intoxicating experience that can only really be described as magic.

Photos – c/o Jeff Busby

Great Scott spoofing

That 80s Time Travel Movie

Brisbane Arts Theatre

February 11 – March 27


The 1980s were simultaneously awesome and awful, as those who lived through the years will know. But, with simultaneous climax of story writing and special effects, they did produce some of the best movies of all time, including the cheesy sci-fi flick “Back to the Future” and its subsequent two sequels.

If you thought that your memory of the whimsical adventure comedy film had faded, its experience is soon brought back in an opening on-screen montage that brings Marty McFly to Brisbane to the sounds of its anthemic ‘Power of Love’. And so Brisbane Arts Theatre’s musical parody “The 80s Time Travel Movie” takes audiences back to the totally rad decade that taste forgot, evident in the authentic, over-the-top costumes and hair of the mediocre McFly family

Son, Marty (Aidan Hodder), a skateboarding, guitar-playing teen, watches his dad George (William Toft) be pushed around by his boss, Biff (Tyler Stevens) while his mum Lorriane (Lara Boyle) drinks away her sorrows, so he turns to eccentric Emmett (Doc) Brown (Alex Lanham), who’s just fashioned a time machine out of a flux capacitor-equipped DeLorean which takes Marty back to 1955, the year that his parents fell in love. After he accidentally sets history upon an alternative path, he must figure out not only how to get back to future, but how to transfer his mother’s affections from himself over to his father, otherwise he and his siblings will never be born. Along the way, there are laughs aplenty in the Australian premiere of this mother-kissing adventure.

Live music enhances the appeal of songs like its pre-intermission melodic title track ‘Back to the Future’, but really sight gags and dialogue provide so much of the humour that songs aren’t even that necessary. Giving even characters like Biff their own number sometimes drags an already quite long show, yet others are more than memorable such as when Marty sings of the ‘Serious Shit’ metaphysical conundrum of having a younger version of his mother attracted to him or she sings explicit share of her sexual desire for him in ‘My Calvin Cline’. The shock value of some of the lyrics not only adds to the humour but cements this as a not-for-children show.

Hodder is energetic in the demanding protagonist role, on stage almost non-stop. As his dweeby dad George, Toft is excellent in gangly geekery and over-the-top mannerisms, giving what is perhaps the best performance I’ve ever seen at the Arts Theatre, especially in the Hill Valley High school dance scene crescendo of his new found confidence asserted to anyone to dares to interrupt his time with future wife Lorraine. Boyle is of excellent voice throughout, right from her 1985 reminiscence of life in 1955 when she met George. Doc Brown is wonderfully played to madcap perfection by Lanham. Although some Marty and Doc scenes lag a little indulgently, his spot-on comic timing adds much glee to the show’s experience, often allowing the pause itself and his character reactions, to become a source of humour beyond the original joke.

Narrative exposition is sometimes deliberately clunky, but this at least adds to the frenetic, farcical feel of the spoof and topical Trump mentions feel jarringly like unnecessary easy-attempts a laughs in an already humour-filled show. Still, the loving lampoon is a totally rad and at-times random pop-culture trip down memory lane. With a dancing DoLorean and even a touch of ‘Chariots of Fire’ its sense of fun is very much like that of last year’s “Jurassic Park The Musical”, leading to the question of when is Part Two?

Over at the Frankenstein place

The Rocky Horror Show (Gordon Frost Organisation, GWB Entertainment and Howard Panter Ltd)

QPAC, Concert Hall

January 18 – February 11

Before it was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” film of 1975, “Rocky Horror Show” was already a cult classic, at once a humorous tribute to science fiction and B grade horror movies and a culturally iconic examination of empowerment and fluid-sexuality. The adults-only musical written by Richard O’Brien tells the story of newly engaged conservative couple Brad and Janet fleeing from a storm to the home of a mad transvestite scientist from transsexual Transylvania, Dr Frank-N-Furter, who is unveiling his new creation, a “Frankenstein” sort of monster in form of a fully grown, physically perfect muscle man named Rocky, complete ‘with blond hair and a tan’.

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A whirlwind Act One, where the best songs dwell, is full of introductions as the apprehensive and uneasy couple Time Warp their way into the unfamiliar world of mayhem and even murder. After intermission, things get down and dirty and very naughty as the fishnet-stocking-wearing scientist (Adam Rennie) introduces the oblivious Brad (Rob Mallett) and ever-so-sweet Janet (Michelle Smitheram) to a world of fluid sexuality and excessive indulgence, starting with a very cheeky Act Two opener bed scene.


Any Frank-N-Furter is going to suffer the burden of comparisons to Tim Curry’s career-defining role and stepping into the heels after Craig McLachlan’s exit, Rennie is no exception. Yes, he is glam-rock-star like, but he is also youthful, fun and flirty, bringing a lot of humour to the role in his energetic performance, making it very much his own in blend of menace, vulnerability, desire, scorn and impeccable comic timing. Also outstanding is Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff, reprising his 2014 role as the hunchbacked handyman and live-in butler. From the moment of his first at-window appearance in ‘There’s a Light’ his Riff Raff never wanes from high-octane, despite him having well over a thousand performances of the show across Australia, New Zealand and Asia under his belt.

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Amanda Harrison is similarly strong in the dual roles of the initial Usherette who introduces the night’ ‘film’ in ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’ tribute to and sendup of various B movies and serials parodied in the show itself, and mainly as maid Magenta. Her presence is exuberant. Also especially wonderful to watch is Rob Mallett as the mild-mannered Brad, detailed in his performance down the most minor of mannerisms. And as the show’s suave narrator, Cameron Daddo is most deserving of his applause upon entry. His interaction with the audience is terrific, especially as he digresses in response to the show’s trademark audience participation and their shout outs of the ‘say it, say it…’ sort.


Musically, ‘Time Warp’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’ are expected highlights. Smitheram and Mallett are both excellent in their solo numbers ‘Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me’ and ‘Once in a While’, but it is Rennie’s swan song ‘I’m Going Home’ that resonates the most as, in contrast to the spirited strutting of his earlier songs, he sings with soulful and haunting poignancy in attempt to explain his actions.


Really, “Rocky Horror Show” is bigger than any one performer, which is affirmed by the excellence of this ensemble who seem to be having a great time together on stage. Their animated synchronised choreography, in ‘Eddie’, for example, is all kinds of camp fun. Indeed, this show has naughtiness and adult amusement in abundance. Its strange and pleasurable journey is fast-paced and faithful to the original, making for a highly-entertaining night of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery, only not for all the family.

Here we go again

Mamma Mia (Michael Coppel, Louise Withers and Linda Bewick)

QPAC, Lyric Theatre

December 26 2017 – February 4 2018

“Mamma Mia” opening night means a wash of blue hues … from transformation of the usually red carpet of media wall arrivals to Linda Pewick’s on-stage setting of a postcard perfect Greek tavern. It’s a far from melancholy feel though; the light-hearted musical comedy is as fabulously fun as ever in its celebration of love, laughter and friendship.


‘Buildings are like children; you always recognise your own’ architect Sam Carmichael (Ian Stenlake) coincidentally comments when he arrives to the tavern on the idly Mediterranean island of Kalokairi. Along with Harry Bright (Phillip Lowe) and Bill Austen (Josef Ber), he has been invited to the wedding of free-spirited Sophie Sheridan (Brisbane’s own Sarah Morrison) and her fiancé Sky (Stephen Mahy) by the bride-to-be, who wants her father to walk her down the aisle. The problem is, even after reading her mother’s diary, she has no idea which of the three men he might be. Writer Catherine Johnson’s storyline is simple enough, but of course things don’t go exactly to plan as the men are reunited with Sophie’s single-mother Donna (Natalie O’Donnell), two decades after last visiting the island.


“Mamma Mia” is not just one of the first jukebox musicals, but a global phenomenon thanks to its soundtrack of ABBA hits. Dialogue segues naturally into the songs and only minor lyric changes are needed to integrate them into the narrative. (Although the stylised Act Two opening ‘Under Attack’, which sees Sophie having a nightmare, involving her three possible fathers all fighting for the right to walk her down the aisle, although excellent, jars with the feel of the rest of the show).

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A brilliant band under musical director Michael Azzopardi brings vitality to the ABBA tunes. Although slower songs like Donna and Harry’s nostalgic ‘Our Last Summer’ reminiscence about their long-ago fling are beautiful, it is the upbeat numbers that serve as crowd favourites, with audience members clapping along as Donna’s carefree friend Rosie (Alicia Gardiner) cheekily implores Bill to ‘Take a Chance on Me’ and bopping in-seat during a fun and flirty ‘Does Your Mother Know’, during which Donna’s other visiting best friend, the thrice divorced and now affluent Tanya rebuffs the advances of  the much younger tavern worker Pepper (Sam Hooper). And Act One’s closing disco-esque dance number ‘Voulez Vous’ is a sensational showcase of the ensemble’s energy. Under Gary Young’s smooth direction, new and fun choreography ensures that that even those who have seen the show in its previous manifestations, will be satisfied with its fresh and joyful energy.


What is particularly wonderful is the manner in which the show celebrates the talent of its trio of older actresses, Natalie O’Donnell, Alicia Gardiner and Jayde Westaby. The former Donna and the Dynamos girl group of long-term best friends enliven every scene in which they appear together. Tanya and Rosie’s ‘Chiquitita’ ask of what’s wrong and attempt to cheer up a crying Donna is absolutely hilarious, with Gardiner (best known to Australian audiences for her role as nurse Kim Akerholt in the award-winning series “Offspring”) bringing plenty of personality to the sassy role. And when they try and convince Donna that she can still be the girl she once was in ‘Dancing Queen’ the result is absolutely delightful.

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O’Donnell, who herself played the role of Sophie in the first Australian touring production in 2001, brings some bitterness but also hearty determination to the stoic single mother Donna. Her ‘The Winner Takes It All’ is outstanding, not just vocally but in the emotion that is brought to its narrative significance of her admission to Sam that he broke her heart. Morrison is marvellous as the young, optimistic Sophie, sharing a convincing chemistry with on-stage mother O’Donnell, as evidenced particularly in their affection during ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ where Donna sings to Sophie about her regret at how quickly her daughter is growing up,, as she dresses Sophie for her wedding. And as the unsuspecting fathers, Carmichael, Lowe and Ber are all also superb.


“Mamma Mia” shows that not everything has to be of “Wicked” scale to be wonderful. Indeed, what this show is most about is its music and what makes this production so successful is its celebration of not just this, but all things ABBA in a performance that warns of its ‘strobe lighting, theatrical haze, spandex and loud music’. The result is a fabulous night out for audiences of all ages. And when ‘Super Trouper’ costumes are revisited in the curtain call with full company renditions of ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Waterloo’, and you get the chance to jump up, it will not just be in ovation but in the mood for dance and celebration of having the time of your life.

Wonderful wizardry

The Wizard of Oz (John Frost and Suzanne Jones by arrangement with The Production Company)

QPAC, Lyric Theatre

November 4 – December 3

dorothy.jpgAs exciting as modern jukebox type musicals may be, there is something comforting about seeing traditional stories being retold on stage. In its Australian premiere, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of “The Wizard of Oz” combines the best of these two takes, giving audiences an exciting spectacle that enhances previous experience of the perennially popular film and/or American fairytale story by Frank Baum.


The same but better story tells of Dorothy Gale who lives on a farm in Kansas until a tornado arrives and picks her, her house, and her dog up and deposits them in the strange land of Oz. Dorothy who just wants to get back home, follows the instruction of the Good Witch of the North to head towards the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. En route she meets a Scarecrow in need of a brain, a Tin Man missing a heart and a Lion who longs for courage and discovers that no matter how yellow its bricks, the road is not always smooth travelling.


The London Palladium Production offers a new and fresh take on a story that is still full of the songs audiences know and love. Dorothy’s ‘Over the Rainbow’ ballad muse to little dog Toto that there must be a place where there isn’t any trouble is initially rushed but still absolutely beautiful in its magical fusion of music, lyric, situation and singer. The Munchkinland Sequence of ‘Come Out, Come Out’, ‘Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead’ and ‘We Welcome You to  Munchkinland’ with Glinda, Dorothy and the Munchkins is simply joyous and you will find ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard” in your head for days (#inagoodway).


There are five new songs too, with additional music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and additional lyrics by Tim Rice, which like the originals, advance the story and allow the witches to have voice in song through ‘Already Home’ sung to Dorothy by Glinda with beautiful message about having everything she needs already at home and ‘Red Shoe Blues’ in which the Wicked Witch plots “she’s pretty and clueless and I want her shoeless” as she sends her flying monkeys to capture Dorothy and Toto and bring them to her castle. Of course, the musical extravaganza would be nowhere without the orchestration, which is superb.


Performances are appropriately pantomimic to a point, but full of heart. Remarkable and talented favourites Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix rejoin to weave their magic together on stage again, having previously portrayed Glinda and Elphaba respectively in the Australian production of “Wicked”. In an enlarged blue-rinsed good witch Glinda role, Durack is shrill in cutting comments, delivered with perfect comic timing. And Rix is nothing short of a deliciously evil green Wicked Witch of the West, cackling her threats and demands to have Dorothy’s magic ruby slippers.


Anthony Warlow, makes for a wonderful, Wizard of Oz, revealing humanity behind the pretenced narcissism of the venerated ruler behind the curtain, but is best as Professor Marvel who woos runaway Dorothy with a new patter song, ‘Wonders of the World’ (and in cameo as the Oz doorman). Last seen on stage in Brisbane in 2012’s “Annie”, he is an absolute hoot in the charismatic character role.


Samantha Dodemaide is similarly charming as the plucky Dorothy. And her beautiful voice is showcased in the iconic principal song, one of the most enduring standards of the 20th Century (#nopressure), soaring audiences along in melancholic memory of why only bluebirds fly over the rainbow.


Dorothy’s improbable yellow brick road travelling companions are delightful too in share of much of the show’s punny humour. As the gelatinous scarecrow, Eli Cooper is nuanced in his every action, reaction and inflection. The cheeky cowardly lion, John Xintavelonis is an audience favourite and Alex Rathgeber gives a memorable tap number as the Tin Man.

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The same creative team from the Palladium original repeat their work and, accordingly, staging is quite spectacular, starting with a sepia-washed Kansas (like the movie’s initial scenes) in contrast to later under a rainbow reveal of vibrant technicolour. And, in Act Two when the narrative darkens, lighting creates a richly-red gothic aesthetic within the shadowy lair of the Wicked Witch and her winged monkeys. The most spectacular set, however, is that of an Art Deco Emerald City, reaching to the rafters.


Computer generated graphics transition scenes, including showing the twister that transports Dorothy from Kansas to the Land of Oz to begin her colourful journey home. And the visual styling of the inhabitants of the Emerald City is magnificently detailed, evident especially in Glinda’s sparkling gown.


Clearly, this “The Wizard of Oz” is much anticipated for a reason. It is an energetic, glittering wonder, full of humour and marvel alike to enthral all ages, in show of why the classic story is so universally loved. Those who cherish the film should expect faithful adaptation and more. Those unfamiliar with the source material (if there is anyone), will want to embrace the world’s favourite musical all the same.

Photos – c/o Jeff Busby


Rom com rock

What Rhymes With Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company, Brisbane Powerhouse)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

October 25 – November 4


“What Rhymes with Cars and Girls” is the timeless first solo album by You Am I guitarist, singer and songwriter Tim Rogers, the only release featuring the backing band The Twin Set. It tells of moving out and moving on, prompted by the ruin of Rogers’ own long-term relationship and relocation to Melbourne. And 18 years after its release, its songs’ lyrical richness still packs an emotional punch, transformed as it is, into an entirely new work of the same name, the musical rom-com “What Rhymes with Cars and Girls”.


It begins with introduction to working-class drifter Johnno (Johnny Carr). His song, he tells us, is tuneless and repetitive, living with his terminally-ill father under the flight path on the western side of Sydney. This is until he delivers a pizza to Tash (Sophie Ross), a force-of-nature, free- spirited daughter of privilege, private school educated North Shore lawyer slumming it in the backwaters of rock and roll as lead singer in an indie band. Love just happens as they swap stories and sing, however, as time rockets to inseparability and a summer wedding, tensions flare in response to their individual fears and their clash of backgrounds and ideologies in classic Ford vs Holden style.


Carr and Ross are not only strong vocalists, but are absolutely authentic as the both 28 year old Sydneysiders, capturing the small, idiosyncratic moments of a relationship as they narrate, act and sing about their seemingly ill-fated union, directly to the audience. The most noteworthy character, however, is the music, which sits in the background in the hands of the on-stage three-piece band (including Rogers himself), making for easy transition from monologue and dialogue into song. Almost-acoustic in approach, in contrast to the rock sounds of You Am I, it is an almost hybrid of styles from the rockabilityesque ‘You Just Don’t Do It for Me Friend’ and country (without its misery) ‘Arse Kickin’ Lady From The Northwest’, to the folksy feel of ‘You’ve Been So Good to Me So Far’ and the yearning ballad about the reality of reminiscence, ‘I Left My Heart All Over The Place’.


Just as the band members Ben Franz, Xani Kolac and Rogers are full of personality themselves, so too do they inject character to make each number unique, such as in the animated violin sounds of “Happy Anniversary” as the couple trade metaphors about their simultaneous love and hate for each other six months in from the initial fateful pizza delivery. Musical Director Rogers is a charmingly roguish band leader. Ever-present musically, he also adds backing vocals, harmonies and occasional reaction to centre-stage goings-on, without detracting from the story’s focus.


In conjunction with its soundtrack, production design facilitates audience imagination as we follow the players around the detailed space of a subtly-lit recording studio, creating a playground of sorts in which a balcony becomes a pier and a couch becomes a big old tree from which take-away is shared. And as the story unfolds, the themes and lyrics of Rogers’ album fill the spaces of the story, itself rich with wit and colloquial imagery thanks to memorably lyrical lines.


Similar to the musical “Once”, (particularly with its mentions of falling as a motif of love) this intimate story of two lovers thrown together by circumstance is a humble, beautiful piece of theatre, thanks to the way all of its components combine. “What Rhymes with Cars and Girls” may be Playwright/Director Aidan Fennessy’s homage to Rogers’ album, but it is also so much more than this, giving audiences a great gig in conjunction with an unassuming, simple and simply lovely show. Like its highlight song, ‘Happy Anniversary’, it is at-once heartbreaking, funny and appealing in its charming sentiment, made all the more extraordinary by Rogers’ on-stage participation in creation of its magic.