Review - Backwards Broadway: an entertaining night of musical theatre
Pictured: Kyle Armstrong as Matilda.
Created by Matt Bapty and Isabelle Quale
Directed by Pat James
Season: 19 July – 10 August, Duration two hours, including interval
As the audience took their seats in the cabaret style setting, they were treated to some amusing pre-show interactive banter which flowed seamlessly into the first number of the show - I Hope I Get It from A Chorus Line.
This set the scene for an entertaining night of musical theatre encompassing well known Broadway favourites, to numbers from relatively new musicals - a mix which worked very well in showcasing the talents of individual and ensemble performers alike.
The Backwards Broadway concept of gender swapping musical performances began in New York, with the Broadway Cares association producing the first Broadway Backwards event in 2006. It now benefits Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, and the LGBT community in NYC. The most recent event contributed over $700,000 to charity and featured performances from some of the biggest names in modern theatre and entertainment.
Co-Creators Matt Bapty and Isobelle Quale watched the 2015 Broadway Backwards and realized that nobody in Brisbane was doing this on a community theatre level, and became driven to create a similar event which could give back to the community.
They approached the newly formed Moreton Bay Theatre Company and Headspace Redcliffe with the idea, and the first Backwards Broadway was performed across 6 performances in 3 venues in October 2018. The theme for this year’s Backwards Broadway, held in the intimate Neverland Theatre space, is We Are Who We Are and has a cast of 18 performers aged 13 through to 50+.
All the Musical numbers, with one or two exceptions, were slick, entertaining and of an exceptionally high standard. Standout performances, for me, included Naughty from Matilda (performed by Kyle Armstrong), Nothing Without You from City of Angels (Sepit Toa & Natasha Moulds), I’m Breaking Down from Falsettos (Jai Jackson), This is the Moment from Jekyll & Hyde (Kayleigh Marven), When You’re an Addams from The Addams Family (All Cast with a particular nod to Daniel Radlein and his beautiful portrayal of Mortica), Cell Block Tango from Chicago (Lydon Steele, Jai Jackson, Daniel Radlein, Kyle Armstrong, William Chen & Sharyn Donoghue) and With You from Ghost (Daniel Radlein & Cassidy Prosser)
Out of the 20 numbers performed, only Meet the Plastics from Mean Girls and The World According to Chris from Carrie in Act Two, lacked the cohesion of the other performances. There were also some technical issues throughout the evening with the balance of microphone and music, which marred some performances a little, and lack of clear diction from some performers (which may have been somewhat influenced by the sound issues). However, this being said, it was opening night and I expect that these minor problems will be resolved quickly.
Director, Pat James and Moreton Bay Theatre Company are to be applauded for presenting a highly entertaining, high energy show with a purpose. Costumes, props, lighting and staging, were all very effective, and the closing number Freak Flag so appropriate to the theme of this year’s event.
What struck me most was the passion for performing, and the sense of family and belonging that this group of performers showcased to an appreciative audience.
Go and see it, soon!