Thursday, 4 October 2012

Promises, Promises, Oct 3, 2012 ****1/2

Book by Neil Simon, Lyrics by Hal David, Music by Burt Bacharach
Based on the screenplay The Apartment by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, by The Production Company
Where and When: State Theatre Oct 3 to 7, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Wed Oct 3,2012
Stars: **** ½
 It’s hard to find a better recipe for a musical comedy than Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s songs with a Neil Simon script, and Promises Promises combines the musical format with formidable 1960s pop song style to fulfil all its promises.

Add Australian musical theatre stars, Matt Hetherington and Marina Prior, and Nadia Tass as director, and we have a relentlessly funny, deliciously romantic, mischievous show.

In this playful, impertinent story, based on Billy Wilder’s movie, The Apartment, Hetherington is adorable and cheeky as Chuck Baxter, the naïve, young accounts manager who is manipulated by his company’s executives to provide his apartment to accommodate their secret, sexual dalliances.

Chuck’s heart is broken when he discovers that his love interest, Fran (Marina Prior), visits his apartment for secret seductions with his boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Tony Cogin).

Hetherington charms the audience from start to finish, making us complicit in Chuck’s dilemma as he addresses us directly with a wry tone and twinkle in the eye.

He delivers Simon’s gags with impeccable comic timing and channels Dick Van Dyke, Jack Lemmon and a bit of Jerry Lewis in outrageous slapstick and verbal gags.
His voice has an attractive vibrato and he balances warmth with the callowness of youth when he sings Half As Big As Life and Upstairs.

Prior plays Fran with a poignant blend of hope and despair as she struggles to discover that her boss is using her and that Chuck is her saviour.

She sings with heart the classic pop tune, I Say A Little Prayer For You, illuminating Fran’s story through the lyrics.

Her duet with Hetherington, singing Bacharach and David’s hit song, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, is romantic, compelling and beautifully sung.

Almost stealing the show with exceptional verbal and sight gags, is Chelsea Plumley as Marge, the jaded, bar-crawling lush who hilariously staggers and stumbles her drunken way around a shoddy and unforgettable seduction of the equally sozzled Chuck.

Tass’s direction is smart, funny and slick, Tanya Mitford’s choreography is perky and sassy, while Isaac Lummis’ costumes are a perfect replica of ‘60s style.

The supporting cast provides plenty of comic characters, with Robert Grubb as laconic Dr. Dreyfuss, Cogin as Sheldrake, the oily executive, Philip Gould, Barry Mitchell, Mark Dickinson and Anton Berezin as the sleazy executives, and Hester Van Der Vyver as the delectably cool, jilted Miss Olson.

Orchestra Victoria, conducted by Guy Simpson, does justice to Bacharach’s music with terrific brass, strings and percussion, and a chorus of four female voices provides the perfect Bacharach-David backing vocals.

This is the show to catch if you love Bacharach’s music and a good laugh at Neil Simon’s gags.

By Kate Herbert

 Cat includes: Matt Hetherington, Marina Prior, Tony Cogin, Robert Grubb, Chelsea Plumley
 Creative Team includes: Director, Nadia Tass; Musical Director, Guy Simpson; Choreographer, Tanya Mitford; Costumes, Isaac Lummis.

No comments:

Post a Comment