Tuesday, 19 April 2016

CROSSxROADS, April 16, 2016 ***1/2

Music & lyrics by Anthony Costanzo, book by Peter Fitzpatrick 
Chapel off Chapel, until April 30, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 16, 2016
Stars: ***1/2

This review also online in Herald Sun on Tues April 19, 2016 and later in print. KH

Alinta Chidzey Stephen Mahy – pic James Terry
There is much to like in CROSSxROADS, a romantic comedy that is one of those rare beasts – a new, Australian musical.

With music and lyrics by Anthony Costanzo and book by Peter Fitzpatrick, CROSSxROADS boasts a small but exceptionally talented cast, featuring three favourite, local musical theatre performers: Stephen Mahy, Alinta Chidzey and Fem Belling.

The story focuses on the evolution of Rick (Mahy) and Amy’s (Chidzey) on-and-off relationship that begins on their 1999 university Graduation Day but, over the next ten years, suffers interruptions, miscommunication, pig-headedness and the tyranny of distance when they live in different countries.

Fitzpatrick’s book cunningly employs the ‘sliding doors’ narrative device that depicts crucial moments in Rick and Amy’s lives when they could have taken alternative pathways that could have led them to different relationship destinations.

Costanzo’s complex lyrics cleverly illuminate characters, develop relationships and advance the story in a repertoire of songs ranging from bold choruses to power ballads, anthems and poignant love duets.

Mahy is magnetic as Rick, allowing his character to grow, albeit slowly, from the brazen, irresponsible and boyish 21-year old, to a driven company executive then to the mature man who wants love in his life.

Mahy’s voice is thrilling when he sings Rick’s impassioned lament about his chequered life journey, Yellow Brick Road, and he provides captivating lead vocals in the chorus numbers.

Chidzey, with her clear, bright but powerful voice, is charming and engaging as the bookish, conservative Amy and her version of Amy’s Moving On is touching.

Mahy and Chidzey are entertaining in the playful duet, That’s My Shit, and their voices blend effectively in the rich and emotional tune, I Don’t Know You.

Belling’s enormous, powerhouse voice is a feature in the show and she plays Hannah, Amy’s eccentric best friend, with a sassy, audacious edginess.

Joe Kosky creates a sympathetic and funny character playing Rick’s best mate, Barrel, a boyish, boozing, good-natured boofhead.

The ensemble relishes the comedy in the satirical tune, The Difference Between, provides swelling vocals and exhilarating harmonies in Paint The Town Green and in the rousing finale, Epilogue/I Don’t Know You.

Tyran Parke’s direction keeps the staging simple and the action moving swiftly while the five-piece band is tight and tuneful under the musical direction of David Wisken.

Th songs may not all be memorable, but the quality of this production, with its fine cast, suggests that CROSSxROADS could be the new, Australian musical to watch.

By Kate Herbert
Alinta Chidzey -pic James Terry

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