An improvised musical about the lost city of Atlantis, osteo-arthritis, and truck driving? That’s the sort of zaniness to expect from Jetpack’s festival of improvised musical theatre at the “new” Old505 theatre, now in Newtown (not Surry Hills). This is a great little theatre; every seat has a good view, and there is a natural acoustic to help the voices resonate. There is loads of character, too, as it’s a converted Victorian ballroom. But don’t arrive late or you may walk right onto the stage! There is a well-stocked bar (especially for Scotch lovers) and friendly bar service. It has that touch of Newtown eccentricity, but more comfort than many other inner west venues.
The opening night featured the core group of improvising actor-singers from Jetpack with two terrific guest performers. These were Melody Beck (her cabaret show about Marni Nixon won her the Cabaret Convention honours and then toured Australia) and Dean Vince, who impressed in Stalker: The Musical at Hayes Theatre, and Squabbalogic’s Sondheim on Sondheim. I would have been happy to hear even more extended singing from them, and from an often wacky, high-energy Rob Johnson (a Squabbalogic regular). Also immediately adorable and impressive was the stentorian voice and infectious humour of Robert Boddington. It was opening night and, musically, the singers were settling in – the week should develop into a feast of laughs and musical treats. Ensemble moments were highlights as the whole cast developed catchy riffs on such topics as “Nut Allergy” and being “Underwater” as a central character free-styled over the harmonies.
On keyboards and directing the musical traffic for the season is the multi-talented Bryce Halliday, and there is some excellent woodwind filling out the band. Simple but effective lighting adds drama and focus to a show that resembles Impro Australia’s popular Scared Scriptless nights at the Petersham Hotel and a Wayne Brady rhapsody from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
A small but keen crowd enjoyed the fun and mayhem of the improvised comedy, which occasionally moved into more serious subject areas such as aging, lost dreams and gambling with fate. After interval, Jetpack’s central players, led by Jim Fishwick, presented a recap of their twelve shows of 2015 (quite an output!) and launched their bold and innovative projects for 2016.
At the other four nights, guest improvisatory groups will provide the second act, so there will be plenty of entertainment for the low-ticket prices. Go along and support this exciting young company with bags of creative energy, pushing the envelope of what theatre can be – get immersed!
Wed 16th: Lady Fingers
Thurs 17th: Werewolves
Fri 18th: Bard to the Bone
Sat 19th: Impro Australia: Gorilla Theatresports
Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start – there is no late entry
Old 505 [email protected] Eliza
5 Eliza Street
Newtown, NSW 2042