Sunday, 12 October 2003

Road to Heaven, Young@Heart & No Theater, Oct 13, 2003

Road to Heaven  
 by Young@Heart and No Theater
Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne,  until October 13, 2003 only  

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

You will be kicking yourself for not seeing Young@Heart in Road to Heaven. All I can say is you missed something warm, funny, moving, theatrical and musically challenging.

The company, led by dynamic director, Bob Cilman,  comprises over twenty singers who are all of pensionable age - that is if America pays pensions these days. The group hails from Northampton,  Massachusetts  but has performed to great acclaim in festivals all over Europe.

These are not many professional performers or singers in the group but there are some marvellous voices and an enormous amount of energy and delight in their work.

The show, directed by Roy Faudree of No Theater,  places the chorus in a strange hospital environment like the infamous Bedlam Mental Institute. They all wear white with frills, mob caps or hospital gowns. A row of white cots lines the upstage wall.

 By playing up to prejudices about age and senility, forgetfulness and weakness, it pokes fun at us and at aging. Several of the chorus are dressed as doctors and nurses who shepherd cast members around between musical numbers. It is all tongue in cheek.

The six piece live band  is a gift. The music includes the old and new, chorus and solos, poignant and hilarious songs.

Three Elvis impersonators do Hound Dog and I'm All Shook Up, A drag queen plays Carole Channing  singing Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

The song that sounds like their anthem is Forever Young. They sing We'll Meet Again  from the 40's as well as 70's and 80's songs. They feature Devo's Whip It  Talking Heads  The Beatles' song,  She's Leaving Home  Stairway to Heaven  and disco hit, Staying Alive.

Lyrics take on new meaning when sung by ageing singers. The line, "Somebody help me" in Staying Alive and the feminist anthem I Will Survive  become funny and a little too close to home when out of the mouths of frail elderly.

Boundaries are torn down with this kind of show. Everybody, including the 16 year olds in the back row loved it.

I am now in the throes of planning to sing through my twilight years. It looks like more fun than anything younger people are doing.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment