05 March 2010

Review: Another Opening, Another Show

Another Opening, Another Show
Manilla Street Productions
4 March 2010
Chapel Off Chapel

Sometimes we complain because Australia doesn’t have local productions of all the big Broadway shows. I think we should be very grateful of this. For all the money and talent and eager audiences out there, no one deserves to sit through Carrie or Dance of the Vampires.

Another Opening, Another Show celebrates those shows that should never have made it to Broadway and flopped spectacularly.

The idea of a selection of crap numbers from crap shows is quite terrifying, but Manilla Street Productions have created a surprising compelling hit from these rejects.

Developed with a delicate balance of humour, love and understanding, Another Opening, Another Show presents some of the worst musical theatre in the best possible way.

Simon Gleeson (WAAPA graduate becoming a well known face on UK TV and stage), Rosemarie Harris (WAAPA graduate who I loved in Shane Warne: The Musical), Danielle Matthews (recent VCA graduate and winner of the inaugural Rob Guest Endowment scholarship) and James Millar (WAAPA graduate who wrote the book and lyrics for The Hatpin) share stories and sing songs from the great flops.

Some numbers prove why the shows failed, but (we hope) there are no real Bialystock and Blooms out there. All duds were created because enough people thought that they were wonderful shows (after all Andrew Lloyd Webber made us love trains, roller skates and spandex - well I enjoyed Starlight Express) or they believed that masterpieces can be re-created (it’s no wonder that Boubil and Schonberg were allowed The Pirate Queen).

Another Opening, Another Show works so well because, after the fun of the introductions, the numbers are presented without satire and with the passion and emotion that the writers and composers intended. Great performers can make plastic shine like a diamond. Harris transforms the atrocious lyrics of “Diary of a Homecoming Queen” (from Is There Life After High School?) into a heart-breaking torch song and the quartet made me almost believe that Assassins deserves another go. (No it doesn’t. Sondheim, I love you like I love Shakespeare, but what were you thinking?)

There is plenty of time to laugh though, and musical director and accompanist-extraordinaire Vicky Jacobs almost steals the show with her selection of the worst of the worst. May I never hear another syllable from Annie Warbucks. Yes, there was a sequel to Annie and we can thank discerning audeinces that we never had to see it.

Another Opening, Another Show only has five performances at Chapel Off Chapel, so you have until Sunday to see it. It’s the sort of work that will come back, but this cast are wonderful and if it doesn’t make it to Broadway, you can boast that you were among the hundreds who saw it.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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