Review - West End to Broadway: quality voices
Getting in on the act, Eric Scott joins the fabulous Underground Opera cast of West End to Broadway. Photo Deanne Scott
West End to Broadway Volume four
Produced by Bruce Edwards
Musical Director and keyboard Brendan Murtagh
Spring Hill Reservoir
Season: August 10 – 20; Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au Running time a little over two hours including interval
This is the fourth program of show tunes from this top rate and talented little company and it was my third visit to the lovely Spring Hill reservoir venue. Also the fare on offer was just entertaining and perfectly sung as in my previous visits to the venue, which has vaulted ceiling and buttresses that created amazing acoustics as voices bounced around all four sections of the 120 seat auditorium.
It was such a pleasure to hear four quality voices singing some of the best harmonies you will ever hear as the voices soared from the stage, which is central to the seating and is big enough for the four singers to move even dance and situated so as the make the best use of the acoustics.
I loved the lighting effects too, they turned the brick walls into great backdrops for the music, and video backdrops added to the atmosphere of each of the musicals portrayed.
The cast for this performance was soprano Pia Frangiosa, mezzo Louise Dorsman, tenor John Peek and baritone Lionel Theunissen.
They were accompanied on keyboard by Brendan Murtagh, and producer Bruce Edwards was MC.
The program was as varied as you could get with music from shows as diverse as My Fair Lady, Chess, Mary Poppins, the Little Mermaid even Shrek and one I’ve never heard of - A New Brain.
Several of the songs were new to me, but it didn’t matter because they were sung beautifully and so perfectly pronounced that every word could be heard clearly and the story understood.
After some warm-up patter from Bruce Edwards the quartet was on stage to get into the swing of things with a bouncy Comedy Tonight from A funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to be followed by a couple more light numbers from City of Angels - You're Nothing Without Me as John Peek and Lionel Theunissen sang the song about the author and his character having a bit of an argument and then Pia Frangiosa and Louise Dorsman set out to tell What You Don't Know About Women. John Peek gave a nicely romantic version of On the Street Where You Live and this was followed by the highlight of the night for me Lionel Theunissen’s spine-tingling performance of I Am What I am from Cage aux Folles. It was so well sung and acted it just about stunned the audience.
After a couple of songs from Chess the quartet got together for a bit of fun with the audience with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Pia Frangiosa gave a poignant rendering of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid and then was joined on stage by Louise Dorsman who taunted her with Poor Unfortunate Souls.
A pair of songs from Miss Saigon - Sun and Moon and Bui Doi ended the first act.
Act Two opened with Heart and Music from the “medical musical” A New Brain, followed by more great work from Lionel Theunissen with Take Me as I Am from Jekyll & Hyde. Then there was Who I’d Be from Shrek, I Confess from I. The girls had a lot of fun with Musical Theatre Boys from I, a Streisand tribute with Don't Rain on My Parade and a beautiful, moving Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music and a powerful finale with A New World from Songs For a New World.
What a satisfying musical meal we had.
A few practical tips: The venue is reached by a stairway from the surface, which should not prove a problem for most people. The steps are well spaced, a comfortable height and graduated. There is a bar in the venue but the toilets are on the surface so it’s up and down the stairs again for a comfort break.
The venue is easy to find. It’s on Wickham Terrace (just keep an eye out for the old windmill) with $10 parking a minute walk away, although we managed to find street parking quite easily again.