Pictured: Shoshana Bean
Created and Hosted by Lance Horne
HOTA (Home of the Arts
35 Bundall Road
Season is over. Show seen on February 22.
Secret Broadway at HOTA (Home of the Arts) was sold on the star power of Shoshana Bean and Simon Burke and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Their vocal ability is truly amazing and with the support of local talent Mindy Kwanten, Jordan Malone, Tim Carroll and James Shaw it was a pleasure to listen to. That being said as a production it left a little to be desired.
From the outset, I got the impression that the individual artists had chosen the solos they wanted to sing with a few group numbers thrown in to open and close the acts. This meant that the show was a little stop-starty with a series of here is X to sing X song with occasional banter in between each song. The wheels really started to fall off, however, during one of the group numbers when Simon Burke couldn’t remember the lyrics. While Burke recovered well with his self deprecating banter, it only underscores how rushed and under rehearsed the show seemed at times.
The biggest problem for me however was the fact that as a show it lacked an identity. On the one had it felt like it should have been a small intimate cabaret at a jazz bar. On the other hand with Shoshana Bean as a leading lady it also felt like the one person star cabarets we often get at QPAC. This lack of clarity also meant that some singers were underused and were more like backup singers for group numbers rather than part of the whole ensemble
This lack of clarity meant the clever idea underpinning this cabaret was lost. The vision was to bring the book The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built, to the stage.
Each chapter is based around a type of musical song and Secret Broadway promised to cover the first two chapters: “the opening number” and the ‘I want’ song.
It’s a great concept with rich pickings with Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ from Oklahoma! and Wilkomen from Cabaret: opening number any musical theatre fan easily recognises.
Not sure what an “I want” song is? Maybe Wouldn’t It Be Lovely from My Fair Lady or The Wizard and I from Wicked?
Those songs made sense. Other song choices like Edelweiss from The Sound of Music and No One is Alone from Into the Woods, while beautifully sung, made less sense.
While I admit there is a large possibility that I was one of two people there tonight who have read the aforementioned book, (the other being the MC and pianist Lance Horne), it just seemed to me another way the show couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. Was it a strict adaptation or just use of the book as a loose guide to help the performers pick repertoire?
This might all sound like I didn’t enjoy Secret Broadway and that is far from the truth. The performers were all spectacular and the music choices, while odd at times, all suited the singers well. Sadly the show was a one night only event but if there is another like it, it is well worth the drive down to The Gold Coast from Brissie.
After all there’s still the Conditional Love Song, the 11 O’Clock Number, The Act One Production Number and so much more in that musical theatre bible.