Friday, February 12, 2010

The Perfect Circle

by Stephenie Cahalan

Studio Theatre, Mt Nelson

On the whole musicals are not sexy. Not exactly ‘now’ multi-media, not classical, yet not avant garde. Often, the lure of a musical lies in its rehashing of a favorite story, a stellar cast or phenomenal staging and effects accommodated by a monster budget.

And so, it is a tribute to the talent and determination of contemporary artists that they choose to work with a medium that does not always loom as the first choice of theatre- goers. The Perfect Circle – A New Musical is directed by Nicholas King, Charlea Edwards and Craig M Wood, who has also directed the music. As with all musicals, it manages to take the full spectrum of emotions and give them a place on the stage in a fashion that is so clearly not reality in its method (how many of us break into song mid-conversation?), but so evocative of the reality of life, love, loss… the whole deal.

Comprising four stories told in episodes throughout the production, the strongest stories were those the average audience could relate to: love. Unrequited love, grief and losing a loved one, the death of a love affair… love is a recurring theme, but this will come as no surprise given that opera, theatre, drama and film have stuck to this theme for millennia. And while Keating, The Musical made a hit out of politics and The Eighth Wonder made architecture into opera, love still makes truly compelling viewing.

The most moving element of the sequences was the departure of the father and I know that I was not the only member of the audience stifling a sniffle. Scott Farrow injected an enormous amount of emotion into his performance. However, ‘Her real Name’ presented the weakest element of the storyline, probably as it was the least plausible scenario in a production whose strength lies in its everyday relevance to many people. Any future production of this play would do well to work on this chapter, both in its dialogue and the pace at which its story unfolds.

The score, acting and vocals of all actors were excellent… really top notch on all accounts, and the finale that included a chorus of the entire cast was very emotional. And while, at times some of the lines delivered may have been a bit twee, there is a some license granted to musicals that other forms would not get away with. The rhythm of the story line was well measured and the humour hit the mark in most places. The accompaniment by Andrew Morrisby was highly proficient, yet the combination of the poor acoustics of the theatre, the unmic’ed voices and the big sound produced by the grand piano meant that the music too often smothered the lyrics, a problem in a show that is as much about the narrative as the melody.

This production deserves more development and another outing in Hobart, not least so that more people can get a chance to appreciate what wonderfully talented singers, musicians and actors live amongst us. It deserves to be staged in a better venue, to be given a chance to tighten the storyline and resolve the problem of the music dwarfing the voices.

Cast: Craig M Wood, Lauren O’Keefe, Nicholas King, Nicole Simms, Charlea Edwards, Chris Hamley, Scott Farrow, Sara Jones, Colin Dean
Directed by: Nicholas King , Craig M Wood, Charlea Edwards. Musical direction: Craig M Wood

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