Loosely based on musician Trevor Gibson’s autobiographical book ‘Shirtless on the Green Lino’, the musical scaled_Songwriter_image_no_writingSongwriter details the story of a Perth musicians struggle to find acceptance for his art.

Scott (Emerson Brophy) hopes to emulate the success of his idol, John Lennon (Ian Griffin). After falling out with his authoritarian mother (Jane Anderson), Scott meets Jessica (Amy Glendenning) and quicker than you can say I love you, let’s move to London …. They are, well… in love and moving to London in search of the illusive dream via a hard lined music producer (Dean McAskil).

Originally a full length musical, Songwriter has been edited to a one hour piece and unfortunately the script does not complement the mostly enjoyable score. Everything falls into place far too quickly, leaving the audience without a sense of journey. There is little time for story or character development resulting in a collection of unlikely individuals. This is a reflection of an underdeveloped script than actor ability. The actors work hard though to impart some dimension and actuality into their characters.

The highlight of Songwriter is definitely the music and vocals. Trevor Gibson has written some catchy tunes and this is where his proficiencies lay. The Greek Chorus (Chelsea J Gibson; Jane Anderson; Kale Plumley, Jan Budden and Glendenning) have some fantastic 4 & 5 part harmony moments and Scott and Jessica’s songs are mostly well sung. Musical Director, the powerhouse Chelsea J Gibson, lets loose on some big notes and the beautiful vocals of Jane Anderson are always a treat. The cast are very well supported by wonderful on stage guitar playing.

FullSizeR_3As with any Fringe show you are at the mercy of your venue. While the new venue, The King’s Lair, basement at His Majesty’s Theatre, has all the quirks for a Fringe Festival, it really is suited more toward cabaret performance. The one entry point to the smallish stage, made for some awkward scene changes. With a cast of 9, keyboard centre stage, chairs, props and choreography it looked and felt cramped. A venue more suited to a chamber-esque musical would have assisted greatly with the flow of action.

With the benefit of writing and story development, Songwriter has the capacity to be a solid piece. The story is an interesting one, the score is largely enjoyable and the Perth connection a definite point of interest. I hope this first season can be re-worked, developed further and this uniquely Perth-centric story gets another chance of a matured re-mount.

 

Written by: Trevor Gibson
Adapted and directed by: Alida Chaney
Music Director: Chelsea J Gibson
Cast: Emerson Brophy; Amy Glendenning; Jane Anderson; Ian Griffin; Dean McAskil; Chelsea J Gibson; Kale Plumley; Jan Budden

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