REVIEWER RATING: ★★★★
Sydney audiences were bowled over last year, when Elenoa Rokobaro took the stage in Hayes Theatre Co’s production of Caroline, or Change. Hers was an outstanding and captivating portrayal of the title character that ultimately saw her take home Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical at the Sydney Theatre Awards.
Today, Rokobaro returned to the stage, this time with At Last, her own 65-minute concert streamed live from Sydney’s Old Fitz Theatre. To say the concert is welcome respite from the current COVID-19-forced theatre drought is an understatement.
Fittingly kicking off proceedings with Etta James’s iconic signature track, Rokobaro sails through ‘At Last’, treating us to a rich and soulful vocal delivery. Accompanied by musical director Andrew Worboys, there’s no better way the singer could have set the tone for the show. We’ve waited a long time to experience live theatre again, and this powerful performance reminds us precisely why it is we relish the live theatre experience.
Rokobaro follows her stirring opening with a complete change of pace in the form of Jill Scott’s upbeat 2004 single ‘Golden’, with the talents of guitarist Glenn Moorhouse and special guest vocalist Nana Matapule now on show.
The varied 15-song setlist makes for great entertainment, including India Arie’s catchy R&B cut ‘Video’, a trio of Beyoncé tracks (as well a take on The Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’, inspired by Beyoncé’s 2011 Glastonbury festival performance), a Jazmine Sullivan number, a gospel number, as well as a brief encounter with the musical theatre world, in the form of the epic ‘I’m here’ from The Colour Purple.
In addition to the stellar support offered by Matapule throughout the concert, Paulini Curuenavuli joins Rokobaro for two numbers, including Brandy’s 1999 chart-topper ‘Have you ever’. The melding of Rokobaro’s, Matapule’s and Curuenavuli’s vocals is but one highlight in a show in which Rokobaro consistently showcases strong, emotional and skilful vocals. She is restrained and then proceeds to attack a song with gusto when the moment demands it.
As well as an excellent vocal performance, Rokobaro’s warmth is on show throughout, and her rapport with her fellow musicians and vocalists is natural.
Red Line Productions deserves recognition for pulling off a first-class streamed production, shot in the Old Fitz Theatre with nine cameras. Both the sound mix and sound quality were terrific, and the broadcast moved along without technical hitches.
As Rokobaro concludes the concert with a nod to the clarion call for change around the world, she reminds us of the potent role the arts can play in effecting progress. Coupled with the immense display of vocal talent, At Last reinforces how much we need the theatre back in our lives.
AT LAST: ELENOA ROKOBARO LIVE IN CONCERT – STREAMING TIME
Watch at EITHER:
Sydney, Australia – Wed, 24 June 2020 at 7:30pm AEST
London, UK – Wed, 24 June 2020 at 10:30am BST
*Please adjust times for other countries/regions*