Tuesday, 4 August 1998

Combo Fiasco, Aug 4, 1998

Combo Fiasco, at Capers Restaurant until August 22, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
REvie Aug 4 1998

"Hey! Let's do a show!" said three musical escapees from Phantom of the Opera. And so was born Combo Fiasco., a cabaret trio which has been wowing 'em in New York recently at the 88's Club.

If you like to hum along to a show tune, toe-tap to a Bacharach or Fats Waller medley or croon the odd Sinatra number, this is the perfect night out. It is a snazzy, colourful, low-budget music theatre show with good a la carte food.

Sharon Millerchip, who was a very fine Beauty in our Beauty and the Beast, teams with singer-pianist Shaun Murphy and musical director-accompanist to the stars, Tony McGill.

 The program is broad and lively. The harmonies are sweet and tight, the musical arrangements novel, satirical lyrics are clever, the choreography perky. The vocal arrangement on Rhythm of Life was spectacular.

All three have a warm presence and perform like show ponies.  They swap evening wear for lounge outfits after interval, lean over the baby grand as McGill tinkles the ivories and goof about with silly dance steps.

Millerchip's bright, versatile soprano is the vocal feature and is well supported by the two tenors. She is magnetic with has real star quality. If someone doesn't grab her for a major role when they return to New York for the Cabaret Convention, we'll be surprised.

Poignant ballads and bluesy numbers are peppered with funky show tunes and jokey songs. Bacharach's melodic Walk on By is teased into a choreographic satire. They relish the wickedness of Stephen Lutwich's song Beware of Soft-Spoken Men.

Phantom, which they all persevered in for two and a half years, takes a musical beating in their eight-minute parody. Millerchip is hilarious as a squeaky, tone-deaf version of ingenue, Christine from the hit show. Earlier, her rendition of I Wanna Be Rich, Famous and Powerful, was raucously funny..

The more serious songs include the tragic Games I Play (from Falsettos) and a cleverly combined version of Sondheim's salutary lesson for parents, Children Will Listen (from Into the Woods) and the 70's social commentary, One Tin Soldier.

This is a slick show with bright talented performers. Their patter is charming and effortless, their manner warm and natural with the audience and the segues between songs are smooth.

by Kate Herbert

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