Australia’s rich musical theatre scene is blessed with award – winning names like Matthew Frank & Dean Bryant, and Matthew Robinson.
Frank & Bryant were responsible for constructing such powerful shows as Prodigal, Once We Lived Here, and Gaybies. Together, the pair has seen their works produced both locally, Off – Broadway and in London.
Robinson, a composer, lyricist and book – writer, created Metro Street and has two new projects, Happy People and Atlantis, both currently in development.
Making their debut at Melbourne’s Butterfly Club, Andrew Strano and Lochlan Mackenzie – Spencer are two new rising talents to remember.
Hot on the heels of the recent Melbourne Cabaret Festival, ‘Nailed it!’ is 60 minutes of original songs, off – the – wall humour, soulful reflection, and quirky anecdotes about the many ups and downs of life, love and human relationships.
Each artist’s list of credentials is impressive.
Responsible for their show’s music, Mackenzie – Spencer is a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor. He is a winner of the Betty Amsden Award for Orchestral Composition, and is the associate musical director for the new national touring production of Wicked.
Strano, a trained actor, cabaret performer and comedian, wrote the lyrics and music. Part of The Bad Boys of Music Theatre, and The Improv Conspiracy, he has taken an S + S cabaret award for best writing.
The team are also joint winners of the 10th annual Australian Cabaret showcase.
If the enthusiastic crowd at Wednesday night’s preview could be used as a measuring stick, Strano and Mackenzie – Spencer have come up with an absolute winner. ‘Nailed it!’ was the perfect viewing experience.
Without giving too much away, their half dozen songs and stories appeared to draw upon the stylings of Stephen Sondheim, Tom Lehrer, Comden & Green, Nichols and May, Jason Robert Brown, or Jeffrey Marx & Robert Lopez, to name a few.
In Mackenzie – Spencer, Strano has found the ideal collaborative partner. With each piece, there was a deceptively innocent musical foundation upon which Strano placed his hilariously twisted rhyming observations.
Themes ranged from disastrous weekend getaways, the science of love, things that ‘couples’ have in common, break – ups, and preferring the company of your friends’ kids to grown-ups. The ingenious incorporation of Melbourne landmarks, brands and Australian cultural references, give ‘Nailed it!’ a distinctly local flavour that audiences can immediately relate too as well.
Acting as front man, Strano hosted proceedings. With a cheeky knowing similar to Will Anderson or Shaun Micallef, Strano has terrific timing, and a strong, clear singing voice. Both are a bonus, because one is able to appreciate the rock solid confidence he has in their material, in – jokes, tales of woe and wordplay to maximum effect.
Unfortunately due to his duties with Wicked, Mackenzie – Spencer was unable to accompany Wednesday’s show. It should be noted however, that Robyn Womersley stepped in to play piano and did a sparkling job. Womersley also shared several priceless moments of unscripted hilarity with Strano when the chair he was using fell apart.
Directed by Casey Gould, this is a vehicle that would be a welcome addition to any cabaret or comedy festival calendar.
Not only is ‘Nailed it!’ a great night out for theatre buffs looking for something fresh, fun and accessible, this is a great promotional tool for the artists and one would think, a sign of more excitement to come.
Don’t miss their brilliant new review playing until Sunday July 13 at The Butterfly Club in Carson Place.