Reviewed by Dave Smith
Adelaide Youth Theatre brought high energy and a sense of fun to their interpretation of this emblematically American musical, directed by Brendan Cooney.
They made the most of the songs, lines and action in keeping the pace and purpose of the show to the fore. There were some musical high points. The choruses worked well, notably the opening number and ‘Life is Pandemonium’, while the solos by Tahlia Fantone as Olive, and Georgia Broomhall as Logainne were spell-binding.
Choreographer Ali Walsh provided tight, pertinent movement throughout the production and Ben Stefanoff’s musicians gave a sensitive and well-modulated accompaniment.
Most of the central actors were well cast. Of those playing adults, Mel George was convincing as Rona and Tom Bubner made the most of his very funny lines in a generally understated way. Buddy Dawson as Coneybear, Jamie Hornsby as Barfee and Mark Stefanoff as Chip were energetic and engaging in their different roles. Their exaggerated gestures, however, were at times more child-like than adolescent.
That, along with the under-exploitation of the potential of the invited contestants, was the only real point of concern in this otherwise lively and entertaining production.
The three girls gave consistent and balanced performances. Georgia Broomhall as Logainne was both strong and subtle, Georgia Bolton was a strikingly determined Marcy and Tahlia Fantone was charming as the insecure Olive. Importantly, she showed an understanding of how valuable stillness can be in presenting a character.
The audience thoroughly appreciated the Youth Theatre’s interpretation of this clever little musical.