Arts Centre Melbourne, Adelaide Cabaret Festival
20 June 2013
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 21 June
Oh Eddie Perfect! You gorgeous, sexy, magnificent beast. You're as hot as King Kong and if you had a fraction of the resources that developed the magnificent monkey, Shane Warne The Musical could tour Australia for ever – or until Warnie does something else that begged for a new song.
The original 2008 version of Shane Warne the Musical (review) made me kind of love our Shane. He's our ultimate anti-hero who finally realises that acting like a dick leaves you looking like a dick.
The concert version has cut some of the old to make room for the introduction of Liz Hurley – I remember when the tweets started and I didn't believe that Liz Hurley would ever date Warnie – and the new stuff's as great as the old.
The new concert version (only seen at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and here in Melbourne for two nights) clearly lacks the spectacle of full staging, but continues to prove that this show isn't dependent on anything but its music and writing.
It's hilarious and smart and so full of heart and sass that the only disappointment is its two-night run.
I haven't followed cricket since Kim Hughes was captain, but I know what Warnie gets up to. He's a brilliant choice for a musical hero, and Eddie Perfect wrote (and stars in) a show that celebrates the spin bowler who changed cricket, without denying that he's been a bit of a douche along the way; all the while laughing and totally loving everything about the public and media's obsession with his celebrity.
And having what may be the most gorgeous mass of talent ever is just a bonus. There's Perfect, Shane Jacobson (Kenny), Verity Hunt-Ballard (Mary Poppins), Christie Whelan Browne (A Funny Thing happened...), Rohan Nicol, Mike McLeish (Keating), Jolyon James (Moonshadow), Amy Lehpamer (Margaret Fulton), Andy Conaghan and Lisa McCune (easier to list what she hasn't been in). Throw in tight direction from Simon Phillips and music direction from Iain Grandage (whose conducting leads the enthusiasm and joy) and it's hard to get a better night in a concert hall.
As the last week has been filled with ridiculous fighting over the value of King Kong, Shane Warne, the Musical is an apt reminder that there are you-bloody-beauty musicals made in Australia about Australians and Australia (Keating, Margaret Fulton) that don't need squillions to be created.
And let's not forget the absolute gorgeousness of Flowerchildren by Melbourne's Magnormos that finishes on Sunday! (I don't understand how everyone who sees this show falls in utter love with it, but it's not getting the sold out signs that it so deserves.)
But tonight's all about Warnie. If you missed it in 2008, you have to see it to get what the raves were about, and if you loved it then, you'll love it again.
I'd love to see this show out of expensive velvet concert halls and into town halls and local theatres all over the country. It's an awesome work for us theatre snobs, but it reaches way beyond us. This is a show that blokes come to and get up during the show to get another beer. It happened in 2008 and happened in Hamer Hall last night. Dudes got up during the show and came back with beers to watch their Warnie. I scowled at their lack of theatre etiquette, but I fucking love the intent. Yep, this is a show that can be watched while drinking beer and I now wish that I'd asked them to get me one.
Photos by Meredith O'Shea