CONCERT REVIEW: Twisted Broadway (2015)

Twisted Broadway (2015)

Hold onto your hats, chaps. The best show in town has returned. And this time it’s bigger and better than ever. Starting off at Red Bennies in 2010, moving onto Fed Square, and then the Playhouse Theatre, this year Twisted Broadway raised the roof at The Arts Centre’s State Theatre. For the uninitiated, Twisted Broadway brings together performers from the musical theatre industry in a one night only concert event to raise money for Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The guys sing the female numbers, the girls the male. And it’s pretty damn amazing.

Kate Ceberano opened the show with ‘Wilkommen’ (Cabaret), dazzling with her vocals and almost being outshone by the shit hot dance troupe behind her. She supposedly stuffed up some of the lyrics but hardly anyone noticed because we don’t speak a bazillion different languages.

Then out came Josh Piterman and Blake Bowden to sing the hot damn crap out of ‘In His Eyes’ (Jekyll & Hyde), with Piterman the best that I’ve ever seen him. There was no separating the two of them here though, and everyone knew we were in for a big night if even the second performance was that bloody good.

Nat Jobe, Ed Deganos and Joseph Naim busted out ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ with sharp moves to match, and Drew Weston, Ed Grey, and Alex Given delivered the laughs with ‘Make Him Mine’ (The Witches of Eastwick). John O’Hara KILLED IT as freakin usual in his performance of ‘Unusual Way’ (Nine), and Melissa Langton belted out ‘All I Care About’ (Chicago) while some ridiculously good looking dancers shimmied around her.

Some talented female ensemble members showed off their dance moves in Newsies’ ‘Seize the Day’ (Romina Villafranca, Kaylah Attard, Loren Hunter, Melanie Hawkins, Nadia Coote, Holly Sheils, Ash Bee, Jillian Green, and Kate Wilson) and their comedic prowess in West Side Story’s ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ (Sheridan Anderson, Andrea Carmody, Ella Burns, Samantha Bruzzese, Madeleine Mackenzie, Romy Vuksan, Bianca Baykara, and Brittany Page). And nailing those Fosse moves, Nicholas Eaton and Jared Bryan gave one of the best performances of the night in their rendition of ‘Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag’ (Chicago). I could honestly just sit and watch them all day.

Akina Edmonds belted out ‘Lost in the Wilderness’ (Children of Eden), and Luigi Lucente almost made me cry with his performance of ‘Breathe’ (In the Heights). LIN MANUEL MIRANDA IS EVERYTHING. It was an understated performance and he didn’t quite get the massive applause that others received, but he proved that he’s leading man material.

Then Rob Mills came out to do ‘Climbing Uphill’ from The Last Five Years and I think everyone held the breath in fear of one of their favourite musicals being crucified. But then he changed up the lyrics to take the piss out of himself, and I had to applaud the line “These are the people who cast Alan Jones in a musical” because SERIOUSLY FROST, JUST STOP! So Millsy wasn’t too bad. I guess I’m just still bitter about that time my friend and I asked him to take a photo with us and he said he was just going to get a drink and then HE NEVER RETURNED. And then I saw him at Xanadu a week later posing for a photo with a teenager. WELL SCREW YOU MILLSY. But I digress…

The first act ended with Nathan Pinnell leading a tapping bonanza to ‘I Got Rhythm’ (Crazy For You). THAT GUY IS AMAZING. Give him all the roles. Now.

Act 2 began with what sounded like the opening notes to Dreamgirls’ ‘Move’, and the guys behind me started hyperventilating and I got excited too because OH MY GOD DREAMGIRLS and last year’s medley was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. But alas, it was a false alarm. Instead we got On Broadway (which I also love) by the sexed up team of Kirsten King, Nicole Melloy, Sarah Landy, and Amy Berrisford who were pretty phenom. Unfortunately nothing had me in tears this year like that Dreamgirls medley and I AM STILL WAITING FOR THE VIDEO TO BE UPLOADED TO YOUTUBE, TWISTED BROADWAY TEAM!

Then Eddie Perfect (who co-hosted with Kate Ceberano) informed us that he had pitched some material for a Muriel’s Wedding musical, and that he hadn’t got the gig and so this would be the only time this song would ever be heard. He got Casey Bennetto to join him to perform ‘Listen to Me’, a duet between Muriel and Rhonda, and HOLY BALLS. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THIS MUSICAL HAS TO BE MADE! If it isn’t I don’t want to live in this world anymore! This was my favourite performance of the night and I hope like hell that he was just fooling us and that it gets announced next week. But it seems whoever he pitched it too may sadly just be a moron who can’t recognise talent.

Queenie Van de Zandt shined in what was probably many audience members’ performance of the night when she belted out ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’ (Stop the World I Wanna Get Off!) because holy freakin shit it was amazing. Then just when you think “shit, who’s going to be the poor soul who has to follow that?” they bring out powerhouses Judi Connelli and Suzanne Johnston to sing ‘Pretty Women’ (Sweeney Todd). Unfortunately that song just makes me think of Johnny Depp pretending to be British. In a further duet, Lucy Maunder and Lisa-Marie Parker mirrored Josh Piterman and Blake Bowden’s earlier performance with their own of ‘Lily’s Eyes’ (The Secret Garden). They are beautiful singers but I just don’t care for Lucy Simon’s scores.

Troy Sussman, David Rogers-Smith and Mark Dickinson clearly enjoyed themselves schlepping it up for ‘Gotta Get a Gimmick’ (Gypsy), though it might be one of the few numbers that didn’t translate quite as well to the opposite gender. Tom Sharah was effortless as usual in his rendition of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ (Funny Girl), while Mike Snell set half of the audience’s ovaries on fire in his sizzling hot ‘Be Italian’ (Nine). You can be whatever the hell you want, my love.

Fem Belling kicked some serious genie arse in ‘A Friend Like Me’ (Aladdin), and proved just how WAY TOO AWESOMELY GOOD our musical theatre people are for The Voice. Get a surfer haircut, lose some personality, and mangle a Taylor Swift song and then you might be in with a chance. But SCREW that.

Michael Cormick (who shall henceforth be known as THE DEVIL MAN after seeing Blood Brothers recently) sang the hell out of ‘The Winner Takes It All’ (Mamma Mia) and if they’re looking for a replacement for the indefinitely postponed Jekyll and Hyde, he’s certainly a good option. As is pretty much anyone that isn’t Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

Unfortunately, Twisted Broadway advertised Jaz Flowers and Amanda Harrison as two of their big names for the night, and they never showed (presumably both due to sickness). However, as a last minute addition Josie Lane was freakin incredible as she closed the show with ‘Goodbye’ (Catch Me If You Can). We could tell she was reading the lyrics off the floor but that’s showbiz! And she is. The biz.

It’s wonderful to see this brilliant yearly concert continue to grow from strength to strength. The band led by James Simpson were A-grade and Chris Parker’s direction was flawless. Producers Dan Benge and Kate McDonald could teach John Frost a thing or two – that is, cast people with talent and encourage originality instead of giving us the fifteen billionth Rodgers and Hammerstein’s revival. Bring on 2016!

4.5 stars

(Image by Kayzar Bhatawalla)

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