Five years ago, Kerrie Anne Greenland made her professional debut in the Australian touring production of Boublil’s and Schönberg’s iconic musical Les Misérables. A WAAPA graduate originally from Adelaide, Greenland went on to receive a Helpmann Award for her performance as Eponine. Her subsequent music theatre credits include the role of Violet Hilton in Hayes Theatre Co’s 2016 production of Side Show, and Cassandra in Paris – A Rock Odyssey, staged in Melbourne in 2017.
Last weekend, Greenland returned to the Hayes Theatre Co stage in Pictures: Songs from Movie Musicals, a cabaret based on her 2016 EP with which it shares its name. As the title suggests, this is a celebration of popular tracks to have emerged from musicals that have made their way to the big screen. Those performances are gelled together with stories from Greenland about the songs and shows that have left an indelible impress on her over time.
Accompanied by Joshua James Webb (musical director and pianist) and Conrad Hamill (celloist), Greenland’s 60 minutes on stage are devoted to some of the most revered and crowd-pleasing cuts in the canon. Among the performances, there’s a Disney medley incorporating songs from Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Mulan; there’s an appearance by Kander and Ebb’s shiniest Cabaret gem ‘Maybe this time’; and there’s also an aptly winning rendition of ABBA’s moving lament ‘The winner takes it all’.
Greenland showcases a strong soprano and reminds us precisely what made her portrayal of Eponine so memorable (and it’s not because ‘On my own’ actually features in the setlist). There are moments that foreground the power in her voice, while mellower refrains reveal her capacity to convincingly emote in song. One of the standout moments is her moving performance of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ from Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s 1945 hit, Carousel. A further highlight is another homage to the same legendary theatre writing duo – a wonderfully-delivered ‘Climb Every Mountain’ from The Sound of Music.
During a moment of banter, Greenland alludes to a recent venture – she’s begun studying for a Masters degree in Opera. It’s mentioned as a prelude to a performance of the final seconds of the title track from The Phantom of the Opera, during which time the actor playing Christine Daaé must vocally soar to dizzying heights (and Greenland proves that she’s up to the task). It will be interesting to witness her progression through these studies and the further enhancement of her already impressive vocal instrument.
The show could benefit from further development of the spoken moments and Greenland could surprise with some unexpected or unconventional interpretations, in order to contrast the popular and recognisable versions of music theatre songs. But, already for music theatre fans, Pictures: Songs from Movie Musicals offers a night of bona fide standards terrifically sung by a skilful and appealing artist.