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Garfield and his band of colourful friends have bounded onto the stage at Chapel off Chapel for a two-week special school holiday season, and it promises fun for the whole family!

The latest offering by StageArt, who are also currently presenting bare: the musical, is a treat for youngsters and not-so-youngsters alike. Spanning several generations as a comic, cartoon and motion picture movie, Garfield bounds onto the stage with his trusty friends Odie, Arlene, Nermel and owner Jon; singing and dancing up a one and a half hour treat.
It’s Garfield’s birthday and it appears everyone has forgotten. It’s also his least favourite day of the week: Monday. After being subjected to a tin of cat food, rather than one of the other gluttonous options he would prefer, the world’s favourite grumpy cat takes great offence and hatches a plan to run away, leaving his neglectful home behind.
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Director Luigi Lucente has found the right tone to deliver the larger-than-life piece in the intimate blackbox Chapel space. He has delivered a high energy, youthful cast who are the centrepiece of the show. Caleb Garfinkel as Musical Director has ensured the cast sing in perfect harmony and unison, while choreographer Madi Lee moves the cast playfully around the stage, with cheeky homages to Broadway dance influences.
Meredith Cooney’s costumes cleverly humanise the furry-foursome while retaining their sense of animalistic character, while Rachel McLean adds extra detail with some character makeup.
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Jason Bovaird provides a clean and understated lighting design while Marcello Lo Ricco makes sure every word and exaggerated sound effect is audible with his sound design. With no credited set designer, and borrowing from StageArt’s staging of its current main season, bare, the space was well utilised and lent itself to this production, however I’d have loved a little more colour in some of the settings for extra visual appeal.
Lachlan Graham as Garfield finds the right balance between energetic leading-mammal and lethargic anti-hero. His slapstick comedy keeps the kids (and adults) in fits of laughter throughout the show.
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Grace Browne as Arlene was a strong, sassy femme-feline. She had great moments taking the reigns of the story, but also blended well with the ensemble. Laura Greenhalgh as Nermel was the cutest kitty on the block, playing her role sweetly and sincerely.
Callum Warrender plays non-speaking dog Odie, but committed totally to the characterisation and nuances of his playful puppy. He’s the scene-stealer of the show and demonstrates a masterclass in onomatopoeia. Alec Steedman is the somewhat square cat-slave/owner, Jon. He is unaware and suitably gentle.
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Garfield runs until the end of the school holidays with prices starting at a family friendly $26.95. If you’re looking for something to do with the kids, or even if you’d just like to see a favorite comic jump into real life, check out Garfield: the musical with Cattitude before it runs out of town.
For more details and tickets: www.stageart.com.au
Photo credit: Chris Parker

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