Review - Downtown! The Mod Musical: a toe-tapping production
Trish Dearness (Green Girl), Louise Swainston (Yellow Girl), Elissa Holswich (Orange Girl), Sophie Price (Red Girl) and Ashley Prosser (Blue Girl)
Downtown! The Mod Musical
Directed by Jean Bowra
Musical Director - Helen Drew
Presented by Redcliffe Musical Theatre
102 Anzac Ave,
Season: April 20– 29. Bookings: www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=349836&
Redcliffe Musical Theatre is travelling back in time to bring audiences a groovy and toe-tapping production that will have them reminiscing on the “good old days”.
Downtown! The Mod Musical is a quirky and entertaining ‘juke-box’ cabaret that pays homage to the 1960s - while satirically mocking the trends of then compared to now. Flipping through the fashions, music and styles - like the pages in a magazine – Downtown explores the freedoms of the decade and follows five hip girls in their quest for love and acceptance.
In a coming of age styled show, patrons are treated with a revue of soulful pop hits and ballads, including Wishin & Hopin, Son of a Preacher Man, Shout!, These Boots were Made for Walking and of course, Downtown (just to name a few!). It’s nostalgic, enjoyable and catapults an audience into a colourful decade that would be familiar to Redcliffe’s target market.
Director, Jean Bowra, has handled this production well and seamlessly transitioned scenes around the stage. What’s remarkable about Downtown is that actors remain on stage for almost the entire performance. So, not only did they have to memorise their lines, lyrics, directions and dance moves, but they needed to know the entire score. It’s a true testament to their commitment to performing and their ability to work as a psychedelic united front.
The ensemble featured Elissa Holswich as the heartfelt and maternal Orange Girl, Louise Swainston as the American and obsessive Yellow Girl, Ashley Prosser as the posh and elegant Blue Girl, Trish Dearness as the outgoing and sexy Green Girl and Sophie Price as the nerdy and awkward Red Girl. They all committed to their portrayals, coming together like a radiant rainbow of talent.
The show was also supported by Jake Hollingsworth as the Shout Magazine Editor and Sharon O’Donoghue as columnist Gwendolyn Holmes. While the show very much centres on the colourful combination of the ladies, it wouldn’t have moved and flowed without these two particular roles. Jake navigated the audience through the decade with ease and Sharon was charismatically wonderful as the bad-advice giving, Gwendolyn. Her expressions made her performance even more hilarious.
Other stellar moments included a side-splitting group performance of Cold Finger, comical monologues about fashions of the time (one in particular that stood out was delivered by Ashley Prosser as Blue Girl and her reactions to an anti-aging face cream), Trish Dearness and her floozy ways as Green Girl and a heartfelt rendition of Those Were the Days led by the vocally powerful, Sophie Price. It quite literally had the audience singing and clapping along as they took a trip down memory lane.
Although sound levels hindered the story line in the second act and some accent work went astray, the group endeavoured on this addictive adventure.
Set construction by Jonathan Johns brought a burst of happiness, with LED lights changing the focus between story lines, and costumes by Jean Bowra were relevant to the era. Even choreographers Maureen Bowra, Jasmine Reese and Sharon O’Donoghue styled flirtatious and fun movement that twisted through the decade.
If you feel like heading ‘Downtown’ you won’t be disappointed. RMT’s latest show will have you forgetting your worries and cares in a delightful and vibrant collection of 60’s hits.