First and foremost, it must be said. Bad sound will kill a great show. From the very opening number, solo vocalists were extremely difficult to hear over the ensemble, dialogue sounded very muffled, sound effects were often too loud and the vocals for the most part sound thin and flat.
I am consistently amazed with how well the set designers of Fab Nobs negotiate the limited stage space of the theatre space. For this production, director/set designer Kim Edwards has utilised large walls of box-shelves on both sides of the stage allowing for very clever and subtle transitions of scenes.
Heading the cast are three dynamic women. As the straight-down-the-line Violet and nervous broken-hearted Judy, Lizzie Matjacic and Alison Coffa give strong performances both vocally and dramatically. However the standout of the show is the stunning Rachel Tigel as the Dolly-esque Doralee Rhodes. Tigel is sharp, funny, witty and has a knock-out voice to boot. A scene early in Act One between Dora and Franklin Hart (Ash Cooper) was a particular highlight – as was her vocal performance in the powerhouse number ‘Change It’.
Other highlight performances include Ash Cooper as Hart, Tom Fitzgerald as Dwayne and Maeghan McKenzie as Kathy. Cooper’s beautiful baritone voice and great flair for comedy shaped the character wonderfully. Fitzgerald acted as one half of a beautiful pairing between Dwayne and Doralee – a beautiful stage presence and great vocals.
Maeghan McKenzie is the perfect example of the phrase “there are no small parts, just small actors”. McKenzie absolutely shines as part of the office ensemble without pulling focus. Her role may have been small, but her performance was nothing short of dynamic.
Vocal attention to detail within the ensemble must be commended. The vocals were tight and dynamically diverse. Compliments to musical director Sally Mackenzie for giving focus to something that is all-too-often overlooked on the amateur circuit.
Choreography by Karen Ingwersen is well structured but was slightly affected by what appeared to be some un-rehearsed actors. Choreographically, the highlight was the sharp and sassy “Heart to Hart”.
Lighting Design by Michael Brasser suffers from a severe lack of front light. Actors were often left to sing in near-darkness, total darkness or in a dim hazy yellow light, whilst the back of the stage was lit up like an overzealous Christmas tree.
If you’re looking for a fun and light-hearted night out at the theatre, this is the show for you. If the technical issues can be fixed/overhauled, this show will easily be one of the best things you see this year.