Reviewed by Allison Thomas
Set in USA in 1950s, based on Elvis going into the army, I found this musical show seemed a bit dated. At the beginning it was hard to relate to the stark stage set, mournful music and drab clothing. I think that probably reflected the gloomy war spectre of the time, but I, and perhaps many of the younger audience, struggled to associate with the setting at first. However when the girls came out in their colourful rock and roll skirts and started singing and dancing, the mood picked up and we “Put on a Happy Face”.
The American patriotism was also lost on the Australian crowd. I felt there were times when we should have laughed and we didn’t know the context or the references to famous Americans.
Paul Rodda was superbly professional in voice and actions as Albert Peterson, teamed well in love lost and won again with Celeste Barone as Rosie Deleon. Her “Spanish Rose” and table dance were wonderfully flirtatious.
Jenny Bowen was well cast as the manipulating Mama Mae Peterson had a strong clear singing and speaking voice. I loved the silent, super-cool presence of Matthew Pugsley as Conrad Birdie – until he opened his mouth to sing – what a crooner! He had some good body moves too! Matthew and Kim (played by Guilia-Giorgina Condoluci) had some great chemistry singing “A Whole lot of Livin’ to do” in Act II. I also enjoyed the barbershop quartet harmonies in “Baby Talk to me”.
I enjoyed watching the fantastic rock ‘n’ roll choreography by Carmel Vistoli. The costumes were superb – co-ordinated by Leonie Osborn and Carmel Vistoli – lovely work done by the busy dressmakers Carmel, Lina Centrone, and Iolee Mann.
The 50s music came to life under Paul Sinkinson’s Musical Direction, and it was all tied together by Director Gordon Combes. My friends and I enjoyed the performance.
Matthew Pugsley as Birdie