Friday, 17 March 2006

Hello Again, March 17, 2006

 Hello Again 
Words and Music by Michael John LaChiusa by Halogen Productions
 Chapel off Chapel, Prahran, March 17 to April 1, 2006
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Hello Again, by American, Michael John laChiusa, is an exciting new musical with much to recommend it.

The concept and structure, comprising ten playlets, are based on Arthur Schnitzler’s groundbreaking 1900 play, Reigen, also called La Ronde. The same play served as a foundation for David Hare’s successful play, The Blue Room.

The show is designed like a circle dance in which ten characters meet as pairs in ten scenes about ten diverse sexual encounters. Each character plays one scene then moves on to a new partner.

Like Schnitzler and Hare’s plays, the focus is on sexual relationships between two people: seduction, passion, infidelity and unrequited love.

In Hello Again, unlike Hare and Schnitzler, the characters change decades as they change scenes so that all appear as two different versions of themselves in an anachronistic collision of realities. This change in era is initially confusing.

Everyone is seen in two relationships. Characters shift status, their power and sexuality taking on a different dynamic as they assume a new mask with another partner, in another reality, in another decade.

Shaun Kingma’s direction is intelligent and deceptively simple. A series of sheer white curtains create the changing architecture of each location. The presence and voices of other singers set up atmosphere and context in the background.

The ensemble is talented and each voice has a distinctive quality. A particular highlight was Monique Chanel Pitsikas as The Young Wife. She has a bright voice and compelling presence as she shifts from humour singing the hilarious duet, Some Other Life, with The College Boy (Chris Purcell) to poignancy when she languishes with her emotionally remote Husband (Barry Mitchell).

Jodie Harris is another rivetting performer playing the Nurse as both a naïve virgin and a deliciously sexy siren singing, In Some Other Life, with The College Boy.

David Spencer brings great dignity and regretfulness to The Senator singing, The Bed Was Not My Own, and Sophie Carter is suitably provocative and warm as The Whore.

The band, conducted by Greg Smith and hidden in the mezzanine above the stage, plays superbly ranging in style from sultry ballads through taut tango and raunchy jazz numbers amongst numerous other styles.

Hello Again is a delightful new musical.

By Kate Herbert

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