Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
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.