Thursday, 29 January 2004
Paris, by Jon English & David Mackay, Jan 29, 2004
by Jon English & David Mackay
National Theatre, St. Kilda, Jan 29 to Feb 7; Frankston Arts Centre Feb 11 to 1, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 2, 2004
Published in Herald Sun 2/2/2004
Jon English and David Mackay's musical, Paris, is not about the romantic city but about Paris, the young Trojan who abducted Helen from Greece and transported her over the Aegean Sea to Troy.
Thus began the ten year Trojan War. Blind, selfish love sent a betrayed King Menelaus, Helen's husband, to seek revenge.
It all ends in tears when the Greeks, at the gates of Troy, feign defeat and leave a huge wooden horse at the gate as a tribute.
When Troy takes it inside it walls, Greek soldiers pour out, destroying Troy.
English and Mackay wrote this classic Rock Opera, twenty years ago but this amateur production is its premiere.
It is a lively score comprising ballads, comic ditties and driving rock numbers.
The eight-piece band, directed by Andrew Patterson, is a great asset with its tight arrangements and skilful musicians.
Peter Fitzpatrick directs over twenty principals plus ensemble and dancers. It is a youthful group with a few more experienced artists.
The sheer number makes staging a little awkward at times.
Jessica Enes plays the Prophetess, Cassandra, sister to Paris. Her voice is rich and her presence compelling. Her opening song, Head Without a Heart (OK) and, later, Oh, Paris, (OK) were thrilling.
Angela Scudi, playing Helen, is a year twelve student with a powerful voice beyond her years. Her performance is passionate although the character could benefit from a broader emotional range.
As Paris, Ben Spaull has moments when his vocal quality is evident but he is straining in the upper register.
Amongst the men are several fine performances. Tony Appleby plays Ulysses with great composure and a fine theatrical presence.
Peter Dennis is a wonderfully villainous Agamemnon, and Phil Haby brings weight and dignity to King Menelaus.
David Bramble is a feisty Hector and Norm Smart effective as Priam of Troy. Aaron Hughes is very funny as the plump drunk, Thersites.
Paris is an energetic and ambitious epic. English and Mackay engender a sense of love and danger on stage with both musical arrangements and lyrics. This new amateur company gives it a commendable first production.
By Kate Herbert