PLACE OF VARIETIES – Adelaide Repertory Theatre

76

Reviewed by David Smith

November 2017

Old fashioned Music Hall came back to Adelaide with flair and gusto in this highly entertaining production, devised and directed by Pam O'Grady. The action moved smoothly, included plenty of variety acts and thoroughly looked the part, splendidly costumed as it was by Helen Snoswell.
 
What was most striking about this show was the genuine and nostalgic sound of it. There was a complete absence of stage microphones. That had the cast belting out their lines in a suitably declamatory fashion, and when they sang they were able to project naturally, very sensitively supported by Sandi McMenamin on the upright piano and the subtle Rowan Dennis on percussion. Indeed, the only time a voice was amplified was when McMenamin played and sang her piano tribute. 
 
The melodrama cast was strong, led by the irrepressible Buddy Dawson as Dick Truehart and Ashley Penny as his sweetheart, Charity. Opposing them at every turn was the villain, Chadbourne, fiendishly played by David Sinclair, well supported by Matt Gohl and Laura Antoniazzi as his sidekicks.
 
The supporting solos, choruses and hilarious variety acts completed the credible re-creation of the old style music hall.
 
Central to the success of the entire performance was Penni Hamilton Smith as the MC. She was stunning in the role – loud, cheeky and brassy. She engaged the large opening night audience from the outset and had everyone willingly join the singing, sighing, booing and hissing. 
In short, it was wonderful, innocent fun, truly in the style of melodramas and variety shows of yore.
 
 
a melodramatic heroine