30 November 2008

Spontaneous Broadway

Spontaneous Broadway
November 8 2008
The Speigeltent

The original Spontaneous Broadway premiered in New York in 1995. The Australian version has been around since 2000 and I’ve yet to see anything as consistently hilarious.

If you like your musical theatre original, controversial and topical, you could become a Spontaneous Broadway addict. There’s no Vietnamese-US angst or French class wars in these shows. Instead there’s the topical anger of a hopeless, privatised train provider that strands thousands of drunk bogans in their fascinators and tuxedo t-shirts, and the inner-city despair of a compromised couple whose relationship might not survive, “Inappropriate carpet burns”

If you feel the urge to release your inner-Sondheim or closeted-Lloyd-Webber, grab a ticket - because your work could be discovered, published, produced and performed at Spontaneous Broadway. The catch is - it’s a once only thrill, as every show is improvised.

Audience members place their song and musical suggestions into the ‘Bucket of Dreams’. As host-extraordinaire Russell Fletcher introduces the show, the cast select their finds. It’s then time for the wonderful Dame Helen Highwater (Genevieve Morris), Chad Bradley (Geoff Paine), Sally-Anne DeFinklestien (Julia Zemiro) and Gordon Supwell (Ross Daniels) to share their improvised numbers, accompanied by the musical genius of John Thorn.

Everyone is as-close-to-perfect-as-you-can-be-when-you’re-making-it-up-on-the-spot, but Thorn’s flawless creations never cease to astound. Zemiro asked for a dramatic, German, dark cabaret number and they created the never-to-be-forgotten “Vomit over my love”, followed by the cast’s rendition of the sing-a-long-in-the-car-until someone-pukes “Are we there yet, Mum” – which I’m still singing at inappropriate moments.

After the tease numbers, the ever-reliable audience clapometer selects the final, mini-musical. One has to wonder why anyone bothers to rehearse when shows this good can be made up in an instant. This week, Flemington was rejected for The Sneeze that Kills. Seeing train-provider Connex pummelled in song was tempting, but the visceral lyrics of “Spitting in the moat” refused to be resisted. And Daniels must be awarded the Rhyme of the Year award for survivor/saliva.

If you managed to miss Spontaneous Broadway at the Melbourne Fringe, don’t despair because there are still a handful of Saturday afternoon performances at The Speigeltent. Just get in early, because, when it’s this good - once is never enough.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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