Buddy Dawson IS Shane Warne in Segue Productions’ dynamic Fringe offering of Shane Warne the Musical.
This could well be one of the best value offerings at this year’s Fringe – a team of nine comprising eight all rounders and an outstanding bowler backed by a twelve player musical team.
Brian Godfrey’s clever direction sets the play on an imaginary cricket oval, (but with real stumps), seating in the stands, and a token big screen. The cast entering and exiting through the many entrances to the field and intermittently interacting with the crowd along the fence strengthens this illusion.
The highs and lows of Shane’s life were played out in the media making him notorious beyond the cricketing arena so even non-cricket fans would be able to follow this musical’s storyline.
Buddy Dawson as Shane Wane is outstanding. He portrays the humour and pathos of Warnie so well through his vocals, animated characterisation and great dance moves.
The rest of the cast are equally multi talented and experienced performers, many of whom have starred in previous successful Segue productions. Most are playing a number of roles and demonstrating not only versatility but a high level of energy throughout with strong musicality both individually and as a chorus.
Some highlights for me were: Michael Butler’s sensitive portrayal of Shane’s mentor Terry Jenner in his solos Piss it all away and Pick up Shane; Shane Huang as Indian John with his powerful voice and Bollywood dancing; Blake Ascione and Nic Equid covering fifteen roles between them, and singing and dancing through all of that; Kristin Stefanoff as Simone Warne and her beautiful and poignant solos Is the Sun the Moon? and What about that Shane; Sara Jane Whiteley as Elizabeth Hurley channelling both movie star and diva in It’s Love.
The choreography is stylish, upbeat and funny. Dance and music styles are many and varied from a four person boy band/soft shoe shuffle in We never cross the line to the Bollywood spectacular of My Name is John. Congratulations to Mark Stefanoff for his initial creation and to Kelsey McCormack and Ashleigh Rathjean, who not only complete the rest of the female ensemble with their own solos, but contribute to the final choreographic performance.
Musical Director Ben Stefanoff and his Howzat Band also put in a sterling performance.
The only slight glitch was that the music was overpowering the vocals in some of the big chorus numbers in the first act but this was not as apparent in the second.
Note: this production does contain strong language and adult themes – but it is Shane Warne so you would expect that…