Reviewed by David Smith
Innovative director and producer David Gauci has brought the premiere of this intriguing and earnest musical to Adelaide. Gauci, well supported by MD Peter Johns and choreographer Kerry-Lynn Hauber, has entertainingly interpreted the play’s generally serious themes.
Largely set in on a bus trip through rural USA in the 1960s, the musical takes us on Violet’s physical and metaphorical journey as she confronts her severe facial disfigurement and its consequences.
As Violet, Casmira Hambledon was compelling. She struck an impressive balance of emotions and attitudes, from vulnerability and anguish to warmth and confidence – underpinned by an appealing back-woodsy brashness. She sang, too, with feeling and style. Through the device of frequent, often overlapping flashbacks, Boise Q Valentine was convincing as young Violet as was the experienced Adam Goodburn as her enigmatic father.
Fahad Farooque as African American soldier Flick, used his mellow voice to good effect especially in the more reflective songs. Farooque, together with Hambledon and the other member of the love triangle, Monty played by Mitchell Smith, made a tight and effective ensemble.
Andrew Crispe put his experience, fine voice and great energy into the role of the televangelist. Assisted by Lisa Simonetti, he led the well-balanced chorus in hot gospel numbers that truly raised the rafters.
The orchestra kept the songs and action going with sensitivity and class, and the simple stage sets and props were well coordinated with the production’s dramatic needs.
Together, it was a successful interpretation of this new musical, providing both confronting and uplifting moments.
Mitchell Smith in a scene from Violet