Above: The cast, all together in harmony. Below: Pia Frangiosa Over the Rainbow.
West End to Broadway –The Movie Musicals
Produced by Bruce Edwards
Musical Director and keyboard Brendan Murtagh
Spring Hill Reservoir
Season: Brisbane, February 10 – 26; Capricorn Caves Rockhampton from March 3 – 5. Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au Running time a little over two hours including interval
This was my second visit to the reservoir at Spring Hill and I have to admit that the place is addictive. The atmosphere is unique, with the vaulted ceiling and buttresses that create amazing acoustics as voices bounce around all four sections of the 120 seat auditorium.
In the centre is the small stage, in the round, or in the square to be more precise, that is big enough for the four singers to move and situated so as the make the best use of the acoustics. Top marks too for the quite brilliant lighting, sound, and video backdrops created by Chloe Dunn. They all added to the atmosphere of each of the musicals portrayed.
It was a hot night too but the aircon dropped the air coolly down over us. It was bliss.
And so were the Underground Opera cast as they sang their way through a couple of dozen great show-stopper numbers from the movie musicals.
They are so good at using the space that it was more like sitting in a family room as they entertained a cheering audience.
The cast was Dale Pengelly, Louise Dorsman, Lionel Theunissen, with debutante Pia Frangiosa. Producer Bruce Edwards was MC and kept the audience chuckling with laid back humour. The accompanist was Brendan Murtagh, who is s such a brilliant pianist he can play just about everything in any key or tempo the singers wanted. He is a true asset to the company.
A look at the program as we sat sipping on a glass of wine gave a good idea of how the night would pan out. The Movie Musicals began with tunes from oldies like Broadway Melody and Singing in the Rain, Top Hat, An American in Paris and moved into the darker worlds of Cabaret and Chicago and all shades in between.
It looked like top entertainment and it was.
The other thing that impressed was the acting ability of the singers, from the tough guy yanks of Brush up your Shakespeare (Dale Pengelly and Lionel Theunissen) to the spine tingling rendering of Somewhere Over the Rainbow from Pia Frangiosa. Then Louise Dorsman wowed everyone with When You’re Good to Mama from Chicago.
The great blending of the cast created some beautiful harmonies, particularly in the first act finale, All That Jazz. Again this was evident in the opening of the second act with Oklahoma. That was a knockout as was the finale for the evening Tomorrow from Annie.
The second act brought in some more modern melodies from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, the Last Five Years, Into the Woods and Spamalot.
From Evita Louise Dorsman got right into the heart of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. I could go on picking out individual moments, but in reality it was a night of entertainment from a group of singers who blended beautifully in duets and quartets and solos.
It is a show not to be missed.
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, (just keep an eye out for the old windmill) with $10 parking a minute walk, although we managed to find street parking quite easily.