Musical fandom fun

The Drowsy Chaperone (Savoyards)

Wynnum State High School, Star Theatre

September 25 – October 9

The lonely Man in Chair (Brad Ashwood) who addresses the awaiting audience from the downed houselights start of “The Drowsy Chaperone” hates the theatre, especially long shows whose momentum is disrupted by pesky intervals and fourth wall breaks. We know this from the very first tongue-in-cheek words that come out of his mouth. Our earnest narrator of sorts, however, loves musicals, considering it a treat to disappear into them when feeling blue. This is especially the case when it comes to the decadent fictitious 1928 show “The Drowsy Chaperone”; even though he’s never seen it on stage, its rare two record cast recording is one of his favourites. It is natural, therefore, that he wants to share its joys and so as its first record crackles into an overture we find ourselves watching the show within a show unfold in the living room of the man’s dreary, accompanied by his animated commentary about its actors and characters, plot credibility and musical numbers. It’s all very meta in a marvellously exuberant and entertaining way.

The quirky Tony award winning musical’s title comes from one of cast of characters gathered for a prohibition-era wedding, introduced in the initial, rollicking number ‘Fancy Dress’. The carefree friend, confidante and chaperone (Vanessa Rainwright), whose drowsiness comes from drinking champagne, is always eager to steal spotlight from pampered Broadway starlet, Janet Van De Graff (Carly Wilson), who wants to give up showbiz to marry oil tycoon Robert Martin (Rhys Rice) at the fabulous Long Island estate of the aging and absent-minded Mrs Tottendale (Jacqui Cuny). And here-in lies the extent of the flimsy central conflict… the challenge of keeping the fiancées apart on their wedding day.

In the B plot, desperate Follies theatre producer, Feldzieg (Nathaniel Young) plots to sabotage the wedding plans through the introduction of wacky Latin lover Aldolpho (Christopher Thomas). It’s quite the line-up of two-dimensional characters brought to exaggerated life by the talented cast. There’s even an aviatrix (Vivien Wood) and jovial vaudevillian-style saboteur gangsters (Aaron Anderson and Astin Hammermeister) who double as pastry chefs in aim to ensure the wedding doesn’t occur so Follies will happen with Janet and be a financial success. Clearly anything can happen in the nonsensical storytelling of the Cole Porter sort being parodied.

Of the most over-the-top character appearances amongst the madcappery, it is Thomas who commands our attention as Aldolpho storming on stage to tango ‘I Am Aldolpho’, clearly relishing his every hammy moment as the faded Latino lover. Rice is also particularly noteworthy in his perfectly-embellished performance as the fabulously debonair bridegroom Robert, a self-confessed ‘Accident Waiting to Happen’. And Katilyn Burton brings a lot of laughs to the archetypal ditzy blonde role of useless chorus girl Kitty, who hopes to take Janet’s place in Follies, especially in Kitty’s clueless mind reading act revelation to Feldzieg as to his feelings towards her.

It is Ashwood, however, who anchors the show as the gentle, but giddily-gleeful musical aficionado Man in Chair. Never-off-stage, his reactions as he sings and dances along with the stars, don’t distract us from the musical’s action yet maintain our attention all the same as he wryly comments on the music, story and actors. And while he is at his best when on stage in choreographic participation in Janet’s ‘Bride’s Lament’, he easily transitions to engendering our empathy in later more moving scenes that highlight the regret embedded within his nostalgia, giving the show an unexpected substance below the lively, irreverent silliness of its veneer.

The production is full of memorable vocal moments too. Wilson’s tremendous voice is particularly displayed in the big production number ‘Show Off’, in which her character feigns desire to step away from the spotlight, only to dazzle the audience with costume and key changes and other impressive on-stage feats. Wainwright, meanwhile, makes her response to Janet’s doubts as to whether Robert really loves her a self-aggrandising rousing anthem to alcoholism in ‘As We Stumble Along’.

The score features a range of musical styles, with Ben Tubb-Hearne’s musical direction and an on-point orchestra, capturing the 20’s jazz era character in numbers like ‘Cold Feet’. The elaborate tap dance routine from Martin and his bumbling best man, George (Andrew King) is a real showstopper, particularly when accented by Mrs Tottendale’s loyal manservant, Underling’s (Warryn James) delivery of two glasses of water mid-song. Jazz Age musicals are also tributed throughout in choreography (Natalie Lennox – Choreographer) with catchy rhythms and up-tempo dance numbers, including the Act One (not that the 90-minute show has an interval), big ensemble dance stunner ‘Tuledo Surprise’.

Appropriately for a musical-inside-a-comedy, the show’s comic timing is spot on, especially as ‘on-stage’ action is undermined by Man in Chair’s playback glitches and alike. It is a hilarious musical farce, full of accessible humour of all sorts to keep the audience entertained, from pastry puns to blindfolded roller skating and dancing monkeys, but no pirates. There are multiple moments of musical comedy parodies, including mistaken identities, dream sequences, spit takes and the titular character’s Grande Dame upstaging antics.

With book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is indeed a very clever gem of a show and, as the Man in Chair himself says, it does what a musical is supposed to do. Under Robbie Parkin’s direction, Savoyards’ production is full of humour and also considerable heart in its embodiment of the joy that can be found in art. And it is easy to appreciate why it is on so many people’s list of favourites. While it is certainly unique in its ode to lightweight 1920s musicals, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a masterful meta-musical for everyone who loves them, full of high-flying fun in its flirtation around all the tropes that characterise the genre.

Photos c/o – Sharyn Hall

Top tap talents

Hot Shoe Shuffle (Savoyards)

Wynnum State High School, Star Theatre

June 19 – July 3

If The Wiggles were tap dancers they might get confused with the cast of “Hot Shoe Shuffle” as the 1992 Australian jukebox musical begins with introduction to its feature of a few more Principal players, the seven Tap brothers, dressed in bold suits of block primary colours. It’s an introduction befitting the sensibility of the light-hearted crowd pleaser and one that fits with the staging of Savoyard’s production, which sees Wynnum State High School’s Star Theatre staged with animation style set pieces, with each corner and angle outlined by a thin black line to gift the effect of being in a cartoon.

The flimsy storyline tells of dancing brothers who are all named after tap moves: Spring (Reindert Toia), Slap (Andrew King), Buck (Clay English), Wing (Stewart Matthews), Tip (Simon Battersby), Tap (Michael Effenberger) and Slide (Chris Jordan), being told that they will obtain a significant inheritance from their late and long-absent father if they can reproduce his legendary act, “The Hot Shoe Shuffle”. Trouble arises when producer of sorts Max (Rob Emblen) reveals that they must also include their long-lost and quie outgoing sister, April (Natalie Lennox) in the act.

Light-weight as its story may be, however, David Atkins’ “Hot Shoe Shuffle” is an ambitious choice of show; the fast-paced musical requires a supremely talented cast and musical band, and in this regard, the production, presented in partnership with Bloch Australia, delivers in abundance, making for a toe-tapping good time for all. It really is all about the dancing, which includes incorporation of tricks with hats and canes, occasional slapstick and always-crisp footwork, from the after-overture opening number, Duke Ellington’s ‘The Rug Cutter’, in which the brothers tap in unison atop a large lawyer’s office table. It is not all big, bold numbers, however. Light and shade are afforded through Lennox’s ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ and her charming song and dance routine with Toia in ‘Shall We Dance’. And when they are joined by Emblen in ‘Name Up In Lights’, it is a joyful prelude to the showcase numbers that follow. Indeed, the nimble Emblen is a joy to behold whenever his feet fly across the stage. Not only is an accomplished dancer, but, along with Desney Toia-Sinapati, responsible for the show’s classic, high-energy choreography.

With no dedicated music score of its own, “Hot Shoe Shuffle” draws its setlist from a variety of sources all of which serve to showcase its dancing. Familiar big band songs from the ’20s to ’40s of the ‘In The Mood’ sort feature throughout and it is wonderful to see the band showcased on stage, especially during the show-within-the-show that occupies most of the second half. The highlight comes, however, as part of Act One’s ‘Fats Waller Medley’ in which ‘This Joint is Jumpin’ is enlivened with infectious brassy New Orleans jazz sounds to accompany the brothers’ mimed instrument playing.

The melodies of group numbers are often highlighted by beautifully-blended vocals, although occasionally, the combined sounds of all brothers tapping together wash over the top of vocals. Toia’s smooth voice is appropriately showcased in jaded eldest brother Spring’s soft shoe number ‘Song and Dance Man’ and while all performers have their moments, Chris Jordan, as the good humoured Slide is particularly impressive in a spinning Act Two solo.

There is a clear camaraderie amongst the cast, particularly the seven brothers, which accommodates the show’s easy humour of puns and lame pick-up lines, and also musical references of the ‘One The Town’ and Cole Porter sort. Similarly, Lennox’s embrace of the difficulty of April’s initial uncoordinated dance attempts is a key component, adding much to the show’s humour. And while the brothers are ‘Putting on the Ritz’ of their Act Two show in dapper suit and tails, Kim Heslewood’s versatile costume design allows Lennox to quick change without any compromise to the razzle dazzle of the showcase.

“Hot Shoe Shuffle” is a fan-tap-stic show and it is easy to appreciate its smash hit status across Australia and on London’s West End given its escapist whimsy and enormous energy (especially in latter numbers). The fact that it does not take itself too seriously, makes for an easy watch that you don’t have to think too much about, lest you might get caught up in its plot holes. If you like tap, even just a little bit, you must join in Savoyards 60th year celebrations and see this good old fashioned musical.

Photos c/o – Sharyn Hall

You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!

Oklahoma! (Savoyards)

Iona Performing Arts Centre

June 22 – July 6

Issues of modern sensibilities aside (this is, after all, a show in which a man buys himself a wife after another sells her), the pioneering “Oklahoma!” still has much to offer audiences 75 years after famed partners Rodgers and Hammerstein reinvented the American musical with its release as their first collaboration; the current reorchestrated Tony Award winning Broadway revival is evidence of this. Rather than stripping down the show to reveal the darker psychological truths at its core, Savoyards have, however, created a more light-hearted take on the tale, with emphasis on its comedy as colourful backdrop to the high-spirited rivalry between the local cowboys and farmers in the about to be brand new US state.

There is no compromise on the sumptuous musical score either and from the show’s grand overture glide through Rodgers’s memorable melodies we are reminded of its catchy eclecticism. The sweeping orchestrations make another overture-like appearance in a later dream sequence too, because for those who don’t know, at 3+ hours duration this is a marathon of a musical.

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Like most musicals, however, the plot is more of a framework to the score, rather than the show’s driving force. We see this from the opening number, ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’’, in which cowboy Curly McLain (Joshua Thia) optimistically shares his hope that everything’s goin’ his way. Curly is one of two rival suiters, the other being sinister pest of a farmhand Jud Fry (Kyle Fenwick) attempting to court beautiful farm girl Laurey Williams (Chloe Makiol). With a secondary romance concerning cowboy Will Parker (Tristan Vanyai) and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie Carbes (Gemma Hansom), there is much complication about which to sing on this romanticised Western Frontier. There is also a beautiful extended dream ballet number (featuring Jessica Boersen and Simon Lyell) in which Laurey reflects upon her struggle with her feelings about Curly and Jud.

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A vast stage and large ensemble cast mean that energetic numbers like Act Two’s opener after ‘Entr’acte’, ‘The Farmer and the Cowman’ where the rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys over fences and water rights leads to fighting, are vibrant highlights courtesy also of Natalie Lennox’s choreography. Indeed, choreography and costuming combine to create rousing “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” type effect in songs like the male ensemble’s ‘Kansas City’ about Will Parker’s trip to the modern city and the female ensemble’s ‘Many a New Day’ in which Laurey tells her friends that she doesn’t really care about Curly. Intimate numbers are not lost though, with Curly and Laurey’s ballad ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ and its reprise representing some of the soundtrack’s most beautiful moments.

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Thia is cheekily sincere as charismatic cowboy Curly and his voice is robust, while Makiol not only has the requisite sweetness needed for Laurey, but is vocally flawless. Hansom is a total delight as the sassy Ado Annie, the fun loving farm girl who struggles with her base instincts. Her ‘I Can’t Say No’ explanation of why she has been spending so much time with Persian Peddler Alik Hakim (Warryn James) while promised to Will, is an absolute highlight. Her playful, minxy comedy is on-point in her every on-stage appearance, her voice has an appealing sweetness and her comic timing is pure perfection. James’s Hakim is also hilarious thanks to his brilliant comedy, though at times it is difficult to clearly make out some of his dialogue and lyrics. Certainly, the comedy throughout the work, whether it by Persian good-byes or Oklahoma hellos and alike, gives this Savoyards production its essential character. Even the now-tricky ‘Pore Jud is Daid’ scene, in which Curly encounters Jud in his rundown dwelling, teasingly imagining his rival’s funeral (because ‘you never know how many people like you till you’re dead’) is lightened a lot compared to its handling in other productions.

Staging is effective in its relative simplicity. There are limited set changes which is appreciated during such a long show, with props to the side of stage cleverly becoming the finest carriage ‘Surrey with the Fringe on Top’ (which you may also recognise as the song Billy Crystal karaokes to Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally”) that Curly sings about in attempt to convince Laurey to go with him to the box social dance and a stunning silhouetted backdrop establishing the fields of corn ‘as high as an elephant’s eye’.

With so much on offer, “Oklahoma!” is perhaps a musical for those who don’t like musicals. In this realisation, it is its music (Musical Director Jacqueline Atherton) that really prevails thanks to the efforts of its excellent live orchestra. The celebration of its score and its distinctive Broadway sounds show that it’s still doin’ fine, for while its dark shadows and heavy fare sit somewhat uneasily in a contemporary context, its infectious music is its legacy.

All that razzle dazzle jazz

Chicago (Savoyards)

Iona Performing Arts Centre

September 29 – October 13

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Everyone knows six time Tony Award winning musical “Chicago”, if only from its 2002 movie. And it is little wonder; the Kander and Ebb classic has a score full of iconic, toe-tapping tunes in homage to the music of the 1920s. Its popularity is evident in Savoyard’s virtually sold-out season of the show prior even to its start. And after opening night, it is easy to appreciate why.

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Firstly, the company allows the show, first and foremost, to be about its music. The marvellous elevated orchestra (Musical Director Benjamin Tubb-Hearne) not only takes centre stage visually but is wonderfully showcased in both the overture and finale of the spirited show. And from the moment they lead us from overture to ‘All That Jazz’, as vaudevillian Velma Kelly (Joanna Nash) welcomes us to mid-1920s Chicago with tell of how she murdered her husband and her sister when she found them in bed together, we are well and truly in the mood, even if it is a somewhat sedate take of the seductive opener.

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It is not just the musical’s iconic status that is grand. And despite the production’s over 40 cast members, things never feel claustrophobic on stage. In fact, the ensemble numbers really shine in their razzle dazzle. And Act One’s ‘Cell Block Tango’ in which inmates describe the circumstances that led to their imprisonment, showcases Desney Toia-Sinapati’s creative choreography that allows its monologues’ punchlines to shine amongst expressive vocals without losing its Bob Fossey feel. And it is not only a choreographic style that is evident; costumes are era-evocative in their detail with art deco-esque touches to the dance attire of the Tango’s merry murderesses for example. Staging is similarly visually imaginative, especially in Act Two’s courtroom circus scenes.

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While the story is primarily of publicity-hungry murderesses, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart (Heidi Enchelmaier), in Cook County Jail competition to outwit each other and obtain more media fame, it is enhanced by its cast of supporting characters. In this instance, Danika Saal may not be all Mamma Morton sass, but she does do vocal justice to the saucy, show-stopping outline of the Matron’s mutual-aid corruption, ‘When You’re Good to Mama’. Joshua Moore makes for a youthful Billy Flynn (the very reason Hugh Jackman passed on the movie role). The masterful (but costly) lawyer seems more slick than suave in his shiny suit, but again, his vocals are excellent in unfeeling rather than charismatic croon about how all he cares about is his love of money (‘All I Care About’). Another less exuberant number comes from Roxie’s discarded, downtrodden husband Amos who laments his chronic invisibility in ‘Mr. Cellophane’. Rod Jones not only makes the solo wistful in sentiment, but manages the balance of pathos and humour required of the role.

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Ultimately, however, this is a show about celebrity criminals, Velma and Roxie. Heidi Encheimaier is excellent in conveying Roxie’s transformation from a nobody chorus girl ‘dumb mechanic’s wife’ to brassy, brazen celebrity after she murders her nightclub regular lover Fred.

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Encheimaier’s performance is not so much as a vulnerable little-girl-lost but a woman of single-minded ambition, and the result is compelling despite her character’s dislikeable self-absorption and her goofy animation as dummy atop Billy’s knee as her press conference turns into a ventriloquist act with Billy dictating her version of the truth while she mouths the words in ‘We Both Reached for the Gun’, is one of the show’s highlights. And she is superb in songs of her own voice too, especially in share of her narcissistic satisfaction with being the name on everybody’s lips in realisation of her fame fantasy, ‘Roxie’.

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While Roxie is trying to get to vaudeville, vampy Velma Kelly has already been a star there. And Joanna Nash is dynamic in her vibrant stage presence as the slinky vixen, both vocally and physically. Her singing voice is era-appropriately smoky but strong, and she moves about the stage with an infectious, lithe energy. This is especially evident in her desperate musical attempt to entice Roxie to refashion the sister act, ‘I Can’t Do It Alone’, in which she acrobatically recreates both parts of the dance duet, along with improvised musical accompaniment of saxophones and alike.

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“Chicago” is a solid-hit Broadway musical of the old-school sort, not just in its 1920s setting, but its sensibility of razzle dazzle jazz hands song and dance, even if its purpose is to satirise American values, corruption and cult of the celebrity criminal. While opening night of Savoyards “Chicago” suffers from some sound issues, these are minor and don’t spoil what is an entertaining evening for all, especially given its additional humour, such as is courtroom re-enactments of Roxie’s crime. Indeed, in its tribute to its music and libretto, under Sherryl-Lee Secomb’s direction, this “Chicago” is an over-the-top and whole-lot-of-fun night out in affection of the art of murder.

Photos – c/o Chris Thomas

Celebrating the mating game

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Savoyards)

The Star Theatre

March 17 – 24

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The musical comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is the second-longest running Off Broadway musical and a popular choice for companies worldwide, so audience familiarity with its storyline is an easy assumption., Storyline is perhaps the wrong descriptor though as rather than having a singular narrative, the show uses loosely-related vignettes (mostly, but not all, featuring songs) in follow of the mating game course of love.

Act One explores the journey from dating to love and marriage, while Act Two reveals the after, all with short and to-the-point scenes, showcasing the customary broad mix of talent you’d expect in an amateur community theatre company production. Immediately, however, from when the cast members morph from a Greek Chorus robed ‘Prologue’ into ‘Cantata for the First Date’, during which they transition into preparing for a date, Mufaro Maringe establishes a strong presence with versatile vocals traversing the styles of ensemble numbers and duos with ease, and making us wish for a solo number. Kate Doohan is similarly vocally excellent throughout, but especially in ‘Tear Jerk’, in which her character chooses the movie to watch with her date, to unexpected comic effect.

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Act One’s ‘A Stud and a Babe’ cements the work’s comic tone in its physical show of two equally-insecure people trying to make conversation on a first date and singing about how easy it would be if they were different. However, some of the funniest scenes are those without songs. And all of the ensemble members shine in comic moments. Drawing on his “The Producers” characterisation, Joshua Thia makes for a very funny attorney in ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’, an infomercial like sequence that considers what it would be like if you could sue somebody for not sexually satisfying you. And Maringe is magnificent as convicted mass murderer Trentell who shares his sad story to 30+ singles as part of a Scared Straight to the Altar Program.

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The 20 scene range of story snippets means share of a variety of accents, which are initially jarring, particularly in scenes already showcasing caricatures and if intention was to represent a variety of settings, this wasn’t achieved given its overall impression of being (as overheard in audience discussion) ‘so American’.  Good use is made of the Star Theatre’s wide stage, but the raised band, although excellent, is initially at least, distracting to those further back in the audience at its sight line.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, No Change” has something for everyone, perfectly captured in Act One’s ‘Men Who Talk and the Women Who Pretend They’re Listening’ during which women sing about the lack of single men in ‘Single Men Drought’ before men sing their own praises in ‘’Cause I’m a Guy’. It is lighthearded and its stereotypes serve to offer easy entertainment, but mostly it is funny, even if its comedy comes mostly through the obscure rhymes of its lyrics, such as in ‘Always a Bridesmaid’ (“Once my gown was velourish, made me look kind of whorish”) and ‘The Marriage Tango’ (“I put away each smurf and the footballs made of nerf”).

Beneath their humour, the songs aren’t particularly memorable and with so many in often such quick-changing scenes, recalling them post-show is difficult. Still, while they aren’t showstoppers, they’re quite clever in their comedy. It is unfortunate that there are only a couple of touching numbers, especially given that Act Two’s heartfelt and honest ‘Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You’, during which a man expresses his love for his partner as the two engage in their shared coffee routine, is the show’s biggest standout.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, No Change” straddles the line between trivialising and celebrating romance-related social rituals; although it is tongue-in-cheek throughout, at its core is a clear message of the timeless universality of love which is its ultimate appeal, homogeneous as its presentation may be. Its sometimes dated ideas make for comfortable comedy and it is easy to see what has made the show such a hit because while some of its moments are formulaic, its subject matter lends itself to clichés, so this can be forgiven.

Broadway business

The Producers (Savoyards)

Iona Performing Arts Centre

September 23 – October 7

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Sometimes the business of Broadway is that you do can do everything right but still go wrong. Sometimes, the opposite can occur too…. Such is the story behind Mel Brooks’ movie and subsequent musical, “The Producers”. Failed Producer Max Bialystock used to be the king of old Broadway, with the biggest hits. Now, he has lost his touch so makes his money by seduction of elderly women as investors. ….until he stumbles upon a seemingly failsafe scheme to profit from a flop. He partners with timid accountant Leo Bloom to produce what they hope will be the biggest failure in the history of commercial theatre (whose shares they can oversell), the offensive “Springtime for Hitler” gay romp about Adolf and Eva in Berchtesgaden, aka the worst musical ever written, helmed by the worst director in New York City and with the worst actors occupying all of its roles.

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And so the chaos begins and in Savoyard Musical Comedy Society’s production of what Mel Brooks himself describes as ‘an evening of insanity and pleasure’, the chaos is quite delicious. The show starts strongly with the two leads, Gary Rose as the very Jewish and over-the-top Bialystock and Joshua Thia as the anxious and unsure-of-himself Bloom, sharing an immediate on-stage chemistry. The production has everything a good old fashioned musical needs, particularly its tried and tested, sometimes politically incorrect, humour. Indeed, it is irreverently self-aware in its offer of something for everyone comedy-wise; there is bawdy, one-liner humour that completely works alongside wittier, more intellectual allusions and puns.

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Musical numbers are quite magnificent in both their eclecticism and their production values. ‘I Want to Be a Producer’ serves as an Act One highlight, as Bloom sings of his secret desire to leave the drudgery of accounting to have his heart set afire by seeing his name in lights, complete with a chorus of supporting showgirls and an entertaining tap dance sequence. ‘Springtime for Hitler’ is another, later, example of the show’s unified choreography, staging, costumes and impressive live music soundtrack under Mark Beilby’s direction.

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To be a genuine success, however, the show needs to nail it with the two leads and in this regard, Savoyards’ production excels. Rose is a perfectly devious but twinkle-eyed Bialystock, while triple threat, Thia is outstanding, from the anxious and awkward Bloom of Act One through to his increasingly excitable sensibility in later sections. His embrace of every opportunity within the role’s physicality, with hilarious facial expressions and exciting physical comedy, make him enormously fun to watch.

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Walter Lago is a riot as Franz Liebkind, the ex-Nazi writer of the musical within a musical, at times conveying a John-Cleese-like sensibility in his normalised absurdity. Grace Glarke is appropriately faux-Swedish as Ulla, the jiggly dancer/receptionist at the newly amalgamated Bialystock and Bloom, David Morris brings immense energy and interest to the role of Director Roger Debris when stepped into the musical’s lead role and Scott Edwards is a scene-stealing Carmen Ghia, his flamboyant common law assistant.

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“The Producers” was a smash hit on Broadway, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards, so any intended production is going to be an ambitious undertaking, especially for an independent theatre company. This is musical theatre on the grandest of scales with a long running time and cast of over two dozen. Under Gabriella Flowers’ Artistic Direction, Savoyards have produced a polished and professional show. Hannah Crowther’s tight choreography and Sherrly-Lee Secomb’s clever set design work well to establish and quickly transition between scenes while maintaining the show’s essential energy and feel-good factor. Unfortunately, this could not distract from the ongoing sound issues on Opening Night.

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“The Producers” puts the comedy back in musical comedy, with Mel Brooks evident in its every aspect. The show went on to become one of the biggest hits in modern Broadway memory and this production loses none of what made the original such an enormous success. Savoyards’ highly entertaining and thoroughly recommended share of the classic Broadway story is appropriately full of colour and movement, frivolity and funny, funny moments… including a pigeon named Adolf who almost steals the show. As a musically and visually stunning reminder that there is no business like show business, this is one of the best amateur productions around and, as such, should be seen by all who, like Ulla, think if you got it, flaunt it!

Photos c/o – Christopher Thomas