Twisted Broadway (2014)
I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that Twisted Broadway is absolutely, positively, a brilliant night out, for only about half the cost of a regular musical, and with all proceeds going to charity. The bad news is, you’re going to have to wait another year to see the next one. Started up by producers Daniel Benge and Kate McDonald in 2010, Twisted Broadway sees the cream of the crop of musical theatre perform numbers originally intended for the opposite sex, to raise money for Oz Showbiz Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. I was blown away by the talent when I first saw it last year and perhaps even more so this time around.
The gorgeous John O’Hara opened the show with ‘All that Jazz’ from Chicago. I’ve loved seeing O’Hara as Rum Tum Tugger in Cats, understudying Lonny in Rock of Ages, and most recently as the Witch’s Father in Wicked. He is F-L-A-W-L-E-S-S and was supported by a sizzling array of dancers performing some amazing choreography by Yvette Lee. Watching them almost made me want to start up an intense exercise regime so I too could get a bangin’ bod. Almost. But then I remembered that I hate exercise.
There were plenty of high energy dance numbers throughout the night. Nathan Pinnell tapped the shit out of ‘Anything Goes’ and I’d expect nothing less after his ‘Forget About the Boy’ from last year. I LOVE HIM SO HARD! James Millar led an entertaining ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ from Cabaret, and Matt Holly, Justin Anderson and Tom Handley killed it in ‘There’s Gotta be Something Better than This’ from Sweet Charity. The cuter-than-cute boys of The King and I performed an updated version of ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ from Annie and a chorus of awwwws from the audience accompanied them.
The male ensemble cast of Les Mis (Daniel Belle, Hugo Chiarella, Zoy Frangos, Ben Hall, Matt Heyward, Luke Joslin, Rob Mallett, Liam McIlwain, Joel Parnis, and Joshua Robson) came together to perform a medley from Dreamgirls, naturally. It was up there as one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life. I had tears streaming down my face. I’m not sure if that was because it was goddamn hilarious or because the music makes me emotional (it’s so great!) I think it was probably a combination of the two. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE someone upload a video to Youtube because I feel like I was too in awe to even fully comprehend what was going on at the time. It was simply brilliant.
JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT CAN’T GET ANY BETTER, out comes Marius (Euan Doidge) to perform the F*** out of ‘The Music and the Mirror’ from A Chorus Line. THIS. GUY. IS. INSANE. Not only is his voice A-mazing, but his MOVES! All the moves. I can’t even. He is almost wasted in Les Mis due to the lack of dance numbers involved there. And to think when he was in A Chorus Line his character only gets a MONOLOGUE. He needs to sing! He is way better than any woman I’ve seen in the role of Cassie. He is without a doubt, a triple threat. I think everyone’s jaws dropped to the floor when he was on stage. We all bow down to you, Euan.
Virginia Gay hosted the night and man is she hilarious. She is possibly one of my favourite people of all time. Follow her on twitter (@virginia_gay) – she’s a cracker. As well as doing a PHENOM hosting job she also got out the corset for a turn as Frank N. Furter, performing ‘Sweet Transvestite’ from The Rocky Horror Show. That woman has no shame and I LOVE IT.
Amanda Harrison (a.k.a. the ORIGINAL Elphaba) reminded us why she is a goddess with her rendition of ‘A Miracle Would Happen’ from The Last 5 Years which only served to remind us that THE MOVIE NEEDS TO BE FREAKIN RELEASED ALREADY! Jason Robert Brown’s score mixed with Harrison’s sensational voice equals pure happiness.
THERE WAS A SONG FROM SMASH! Although Josh Piterman started off a bit shaky, he and Tod Strike did a great job of ‘Let Me Be Your Star’. WHY DID THIS SHOW GET CANCELLED? It still upsets me. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are song writing gods. And of course, what sort of show would it be if someone didn’t sing ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen? That job went to the magnificent Bert LaBonte and props to the guys on lights who did a stellar job there (snowflakes!)
Tom Sharah, who really should have won reality TV show I Will Survive (I can’t even comprehend how anyone would not see him as the absolute far and above star of that show) sang the arse off Judy Garland’s ‘The Man That Got Away’. Sen-freakin-sational. I want more of him.
Kerrie Anne Greenland of Les Mis (a.k.a. THE rising star of the moment) and Hilary Cole sang ‘I’ll Cover You’ from Rent and man, I adore that song. It’s my fantasy walk-down-the-aisle song but unfortunately my boyfriend hates Rent (for SHAME). Kerrie, your voice is STELLAR. Hot damn.
The second act was full of many big powerhouse solo numbers, with Queenie van de Zandt singing the bejesus out of ‘Being Alive’ from Company (amazing song!) and Patrice Tipoki switching roles from Fantine to Valjean with a beautiful ‘Bring Him Home’ – you could have heard a pin drop just before the final note. There was also a rousing rendition of ‘Before the Parade Passes By’ from Hello Dolly by Martin Croft, ‘The Streets of Dublin’ from A Man of No Importance by the crazy-good Esther Hannaford, and the brilliant ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ from Sunset Boulevard by Trevor Ashley. Gosh that guy is an amazing diva – he almost reminded me of Caroline O’Connor with that growl!
Various light-hearted tunes were scattered throughout the show, with Matthew Robinson and Blake Bowden turning in a hilarious performance of ‘Marry Me’ from Guys and Dolls. Robinson is an ace writer but he needs to BE in more stuff too because he has such talent and presence. Luigi Lucente sang one of Robinson’s numbers from Metro Street, ‘The Girl Next Door’, and I can see him progressing to bigger roles in Australian theatre. He had one hell of a challenge being sandwiched between the two best performances of the night but he still impressed. Chelsea Plumley, Lisa-Marie Parker, Robyn Arthur AND Virginia Gay provided plenty of laughs with ‘Everybody Ought to Have a Maid’ from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and that song actually seems perfect for women (if you don’t pay much attention to the lyrics). To my surprise, it turns out Melissa Bergland of Winners and Losers can sing(!) and she raunched it up with a terrifying ‘Dentist’ from Little Shop of Horrors. I was genuinely scared. Kellie Rode, Sophie Wright, Sun Park, and Emily Langridge also proved that women can pull off a Jersey Boys song with an excellent rendition of ‘Walk Like a Man’.
Ed Grey, Emily Langridge, Samm Hagen, and Tobias Madden finished an amazing night with the beautiful ‘Light’ from the exquisite Next to Normal. The band was simply amazing and I’m simply in awe of the quality of this production given these performers are all donating their time outside of their current roles in Australian theatre. When this comes around next year you better hope you get yourselves a ticket stat.
5 stars (BEST thing I’ve seen all year)