Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 22 June 2014
Amanda Harrison, June 20, 2014 ****
Close and Reasonably Personal, written by James Millar Melbourne Cabaret Festival Chapel off Chapel, Prahran, June 20
& 21, 2014 only Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **** Review also published in Herald Sun on line on Mon 23 June, 2014 and later in print. KH
The timbre and tone of Amanda
Harrison’s voice is thrilling and spending a night Up Close and Reasonably Personal with her is to be treasured.
anyone else, like me, been
holding her breath waiting for Harrison to reappear on a Melbourne stage?
With her flashing dark eyes, sassy presence and
remarkable, soaring top register, Harrison is the ultimate musical theatre diva
that Australia adored as Elphaba, the green witch in Wicked.
In this playfully confessional cabaret, she shares
the cruel truth that a music theatre star’s life is far from glamorous and that
she is pitied by loved ones for her poverty and frequent joblessness.
Witty, revelatory banter, written by James Millar,
links Harrison’s repertoire of songs that ranges from cheerful to challenging,
all accompanied by her inimitable musical director, Bev Kennedy, on piano.
Harrison reveals that, despite her apparent diva
status, she shops at Target, wears tracky pants when at home with her children,
and barely hides a seething resentment for the industry that chewed up her life,
and for Wicked, the show that nearly ruined her voice.
Her vocal folds were not steel and she had to leave
Wicked to save them.
Harrison opens with the cheery Ding Dong the Witch
is Dead, then moves on to tunes that chart her story, including I’m Gonna Make
you A Star, Let It Go and It’s Got To Be Perfect.
Kennedy intermittently interrupts Harrison, urging
her to do something from Wicked, so she finally sings The Wizard and I in a
phenomenal performance of character and song that marks Harrison as a star.
Harrison cunningly incorporates into another tune
the final high notes of Elphaba’s glorious song, Defying Gravity, sending the
crowd into paroxysms of joyful cheering, but it is pianist, Kennedy, who performs
the ensuing, riotous musical parody of Defying Gravity.
As her cartoon alter ego, Hilda Krinkle, Harrison
performs a delightfully mischievous version of Send in The Clowns, a vignette
that highlights her ability to create and inhabit a character.
It’s time to see more of Amanda Harrison in
Melbourne in intimate cabaret, musical theatre or perhaps somebody should cast
her in a non-musical show? She can do anything.