Wednesday, 18 November 1998

Countdown the Musical Comedy, Nov 18, 1998

, by Brian Mannix
At Comedy Club Carlton from November 10, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

If you think "My Sharona" was a little-known Melbourne Cup winner and Molly Meldrum a Playschool host, do yourself a favour. Go make a cup of tea now.

Remember Marty Rhone? Mi-Sex? (It was a band if you refuse to go to the kitchen) Plastic Bertrand? Mark Holden's shmaltzy "I'm gonna make you my lady"? "Howzat?","Boney Maroney", "Denim and Lace?" If you do, are you embarrassed or slipping into your Queen T-Shirt and scouting through old vinyls for your autographed copy of Bay City Rollers?

Countdown was a hit pop music phenomenon on ABC TV from 1974 until its demise in the late 80's. Molly "mix my metaphors and forget my questions" Meldrum hosted with his infamous, hilarious tongue of clay. Countdown The Musical Comedy is the spawn of Brian Mannix, ex-lead singer of regular Countdown guests, The Uncanny X-Men.

This satirical show keeps you grooving in your seats with re-creations of faves. While 70's stars smiled seductively in their garish Glitter Rock costumes, in the 80's black was the host colour and a sexy snarl the predominant expression.

This production is entertaining but sits uncomfortably on the fence between comic satire and homage when could happily tip into well-targeted, scathing satire. It is an hour too long but the second half, more of a musical celebration with fewer Benny Hill-isms, is better paced.

Michael Veitch's consummate reincarnation of Molly is excruciatingly funny and includes his embarrassing Prince Charles interview and memorably garbled intros: "First things first... No, seriously, ...Settle down...What was I talking about...I don't know where you've been but they're gunna be huge... ".

The musical component of this production is the other star. The six singer/impersonators are fab. David Knox is wickedly funny as Plastic Bertrand, Boy George and a sleazy member of Blondie's backing band. His voice uncannily captures Shirley Strachan. Steven Judkins' vocal characterisations are impeccable

Richard Macionis, James Sherry and Maurie Annese play other characters with flair (in flares) and the few female stars of the period, Suzie Q. Debra Harry and Kim Wilde, are played by singer/dancers Wendy Mooney and Sally Bayes.

The show has no dramatic tension, no narrative, no links (apart from segues between songs), and the build to the ending – the Countdown Top Ten – is disappointing. But the show is saved by the finale: AC DC's It's A Long Way to the Top".

Do yourself a favour. See it.

Kate Herbert

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