Friday, 20 December 2002

Robyn Arthur- Taught By Experts, Dec 20, 2002

What: Taught By Experts by Robyn Arthur
Where: Chapel off Chapel 12 Little Chapel St Prahran
When: December 19 to 22
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Robyn Arthur is one of our seasoned music theatre artists. Taught by Experts, her solo show, is a simple presentational format that showcases her talent, versatility and wry demeanour.

Arthur may not be a household name to  any but the music theatre aficionados, but she has an enviable musical biography.

The evening is a virtual tour through her life in music. The show, directed slickly by Terry O'Connell, is written by Robert Hewett who has use Arthur's own stories to create a witty and economical script to link songs.

 The songs are peppered with funny and poignant snatches of stories about her family and the stage.

She boarded with an aunt in Sydney, trained as a secretary, worked in dull old Canberra and met incompetent politicians at the ABC. Then she toured and made a success in the theatre world.

The second half of the show is a musical feast. The songs are moving, the stories heartfelt and Arthur's singing impassioned. Her voice is rich and controlled.

 Her rendition of Peter Allen's Don't Cry Out Loud brought storms of applause from the crowd. They also loved Master of the House from her role as Madame Thenardier, the innkeeper's wife in Les Miserables.

She stands at the microphone with accompanist Dean Lotherington seated behind her on piano. Her manner relaxes after interval and we feel her energetic personality. She describes her musical influences and passion for music theatre.

The catalyst for a thirty-year career was when her baritone dad took her to Carousel as a child. Her big break was Harry M Miller's Jesus Christ Superstar. She played Apostle's Woman - no specific apostle apparently.

Her Catholic education prepared her for Nunsense. Then came a scruffy production of Showboat with plywood sets. Then came Evita where she learned from consummate Broadway star, Patti LuPone. Beauty and the Beast saw her playing Mrs. Potts, the teapot.

Music theatre people are troupers. Arthur toured in Annie for four years and for the same time in Les Miserables. She performed in literally thousands of each show.

Let's hope the failing music theatre scene can sustain more shows to feature her skills.

By Kate Herbert

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