Saturday, 18 January 2003

Combo Fiasco in Illegal Harmonies , Jan 18, 2003

Combo Fiasco  in Illegal Harmonies  
Chapel off Chapel
 Jan 18, 19, 25, 26, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Combo Fiasco is always a treat to hear. This trio of musical theatre artists met on a production of The Secret Garden.  Now, they sing show tunes together and quip their way through cabaret venues.

Sean Murphy, Tony McGill  and Charmaine Clements  are a charming, talented ensemble with a blend of delightful voices that tickle your musical nerve endings.

They have inventive arrangements of some well-known songs as well as some original numbers that are sometimes hilarious and at others moving. They open with a zippy version of Sentimental Journey  and follow it with a fine, jazzy arrangement of Sweet Georgia Brown.

This new show, Illegal Harmonies, is a deviation from the norm for them. Because it is part of the Gay and Lesbian Midsumma Festival , they have integrated plenty of camp humour for their audience.

"Are there any self-confessed heterosexuals in the audience?" quips Murphy. "Don't they blend in?"

They alter lyrics of famous songs to incorporate the comic gay references. If There Is a God He's a Queen was a hit. Lyrics from These Are a Few of My Favourite Things  are converted to " I simply remember the gays that I know and then I don't feel so bad."

There is nothing offensive only a few cheeky and often hilarious changes, puns and detours.
Even the blatantly sexual Como Ti Gusta Mi Pinga  has all the naughty bits in Spanish.

The high point of this truly entertaining show is Clements singing the raucously funny song Diva.  It is a parody of television actors who get themselves a musical role despite their lack of vocal talent.

"I can't carry a tune in a bucket," She sings. "But still I'm on the stage." It is an inspired indictment of casting for fame not talent.

Phil Scott  makes a special appearance to sing with the trio, What Did We Do Before Starbucks?  which he wrote with Tony Sheldon.  This a wonderfully acerbic parody of our new obsession with American coffee that tastes like everything but coffee.

The poignant Sweet Dreams  is superbly sung by Murphy. He also delivers with gusto the passionate and sad song from Falsettos,  The Games That I Play.  

Back on Base  is a sexy jazz number with only double bass accompaniment. And they do a soaring a cappella  version of Over the Rainbow. Don't be deterred by the festival's name. This is a great musical show.

By Kate Herbert

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