“High Fidelity” by the Hills Musical Company is a knockout! If audience reaction throughout is anything to go by (and it always is!) everybody in the Stirling Theatre, both on stage and off, has a bloody good time. Director Hayley Horton, together with her superb production team has harnessed a talented cast and created a musical blast! It’s not that the music as written is all that memorable, it resonates because its delivery on every level is so expert, hypnotic and energetic. And the lyrics provide great audience reaction. MD Ben Stefanoff has his band of talented musos producing just the right level of backing for the full-throated vocals from everybody on stage. Well played, well timed, beautifully modulated and with flawless cues throughout. The other standout star of show is the smart, appropriate and altogether slick choreography directed by Vanessa Redmond. It doesn’t miss a beat. Both music delivery and movement blend so well here in a most satisfying marriage.
The word “marriage” is certainly not listed in the top 5 of record store owner Rob’s vernacular! Rob, expertly realised by Michael Butler is a music driven arachnid living his rather shallow life within the confining web if his music store. Life and people come to him. He doesn’t feel the need to make much of an emotional investment in people so he doesn’t. He’s not at all an intrinsically bad person but in olde British parlance he is a bit of a cad! Current girlfriend Laura played with finely finessed conviction by Kristin Stefanoff is about to leave him. And rightly so. She joins a veritable chorus line of ex-lovers all mishandled one way or another by the self-absorbed Rob. All of them long gone in their manner of thinking but all within Rob’s defining top 5 universe.
He has two loyal employees who may or may not be paid on a regular basis. Barry (Omkar Nagesh) is a brash overbearing like-minded music enthusiast and Dick (Lindsay Prodea, liltingly smooth of voice) breaks ranks and falls for Anna (Kodi Jackson) who is an enthusiastic popular mainstream music fan. Heaven forbid! Then there’s Liz (Jen McKinnon) who serves as Rob’s sounding board and, in a way, a conscience which he entirely lacks. She always tells it like it is. Ian upstairs, a pseudo mystic guru (Jay Mancuso) seeks to prey on Rob’s female “leftovers” and makes a hefty play for recently rejected Laura. All in all “High Fidelity” is a little cautionary tale of rampant self-absorption and its inevitable consequences.
The cast as a whole is simply sensational. Chorus and backing work, smooth interfacing between scenes, movement throughout and the sublime combination of music with vocals all interlock with professional ease. The “playback” scene in the second act dealing with the various imagined scenarios of confrontations between rivals Rob and Ian is cleverly executed and hilarious. The audience loves it. Especially they enjoy the entrances and exits, played forward then backwards, of Adam Goodburn’s character TMPMITW, The Most Pathetic Man in the World!
Simply put, “High Fidelity” is definitely in my top 5. I loved it. I loved it a lot!