“You are listening to 103.9FM, bringing you the hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today.”
Drawing inspiration from Richard Mercer’s seminal late night radio program, Love Songs and Dedications, writer and star John O’Hara (Rock of Ages, Wicked), writer Anthony Harkin (Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages), together with musical direction from Luke Hunter (The Rocky Horror Show, Jersey Boys) and choreography by Melanie Hawkins (Strictly Ballroom, King Kong) bring to the cabaret scene a new, funny & heartwarming show … Dedications.
Sparsely furnished, the Hayes Theatre stage was a blank canvas for O’Hara to paint several varied love stories as callers into “The Love God”, talking about lost loves, mistaken love, challenging love, teenage love and forever love.
This is a one man show, very ably accompanied by a pianist and cellist, but don’t think for a second it is a one dimensional show. O’Hara deftly portrays several different characters, ranging from bogan and Struggle Street contender Travis, long time listener and gentleman Frank, obsessed fan/stalker Josie, Liz “the fat lez”, a hashtag loving YOLO teenager and more.
Each persona has their own song to tell about their love and through their song dedication – sung in character – attempts to reach out to their partners over the airwaves.
Great love songs we all know have all been adapted to suit the story each character was telling. “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton becomes a call out from Travis to Shawntelle, complete with Aussie slurring. Belinda Carlisle’s 80s classic “Heaven on Earth” is a vehicle for ‘the writer’ to reach out to a lost childhood love that influenced his entire life. A married woman having a fling with a waiter brings us a rendition of Kiss’s “I Was Made For Loving You” that leaves nothing to the imagination.
“I Will Always Love You”, “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, “True Colours” and “She’s Like The Wind” also play a role in bringing the characters story to life, and as the show builds, O’Hara deftly & seamlessly switches between his creations, never missing a beat!
In his cabaret debut, O’Hara is a master of characterisation and using his voice and body to bring their stories to life. A true show of his vocal range, and comedic ability, I do have to say that I most enjoyed the numbers closest to O’Hara’s true voice, which was the character of the writer. I’ve previously seen O’Hara in two character roles (Rock of Ages and Wicked) so it was a real treat to hear his ‘real’ voice. It was in these character moments that O’Hara and the song arrangements truly soared.
The last song of the night belonged to Frank, whose conclusion gives hope to all hopeless romantics out there. As O’Hara salsa dances off stage to “The Power of Love”, he (and I) leave you with these words of wisdom… ‘Life is for living’.