Pictured: Brooklyn Newey as Jeune, Luke Murphy as Billy, Andrew Jackson as Jitter & Emma Young as Abbi
The Musical of Musicals (The Musical)
By Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart
Directed by Jo Finnis
A City Theatre Production
The Actor’s Pulse – New York Theatrette
103 Regent Street
Season: 13-17 November 2019. Bookings: www.citytheatre.com.au
If you can get your head past the repetition in the title, The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) is a delightful theatrical experience.
All the songs and tunes seem vaguely familiar and yet there is a refreshing originality and humour which makes the show thoroughly watchable. Even non-fans of musicals will get something out of it because of the tongue-in-cheek satirical approach it takes.
Written by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart, the storyline is focused on a villainous landlord Jitter (Andrew Jackson) who demands payment of outstanding rent from a vulnerable young woman June (Brooklyn Newey). The landlord of course, thinks of alternative ways of payment. The hero figure is Billy (Luke Murphy), keen to win June’s heart by offering to pay the rent for her. The other character is Abby (Emma Young), a matronly lady who June always turns to for advice.
There are five Acts, each one with the same storyline, however the characters are portrayed differently. This is where Rockwell and Bogart display their inventiveness as they incorporate five stage musical giants into the production.
A whiteboard centre-stage informs the audience of whose style of musical is featured in the ensuing Act. The first Act parodies the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein, followed by Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander/Ebb.
So, expect to hear tunes reminiscent (but not limited to) of musicals such as Oklahoma, Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret and Hello Dolly. Wait till you hear Billy (alias Big Willy in Act 1) perform “Oh, what beautiful corn”. It soon clears your mind of Oh, what a beautiful mornin”. Other notable songs were Follow your Dream from Abby, Sing a Song from Jitter and Daylight Savings Time from all the cast.
Under the astute directorship of Jo Finnis, it was clear that everyone involved have had fun bringing this production to stage. The cast were enthusiastic and animated, and all carried the tunes impressively. Lilli Jackson as Costume Designer brought variety and colour whilst Stephanie Goodman’s choreography was effective for the stage area available.
The other star of this show is the Musical Director Dominic Serov. Onstage with his keyboard for the whole show, he connected with the audience through his talent, innovation, narration, hats and beaming smile.
The set walls were an array of black and white music sheets, a patchwork of great songs from past epic productions. Everything in this show had exaggeration and humour, but the parody is designed as a tribute to musicals, not to ridicule.
The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) is just that. It’s a musical with foot-stompin’, send-up serenades and 1930’s speakeasy cabaret. Its good value too. You get five styles in the one show!