Show Stoppers review by Bronwyn Cook

 ***** stars

Billed as “all the show stopping, heart racing, life changing musical theatre hits in one night”, the first Show Stoppers event, held at the historic Bank on Collins, certainly lived up to expectations.

The brainchild of founder and producer Jackie Scott, hosted and co-produced by Mike Snell (Legally Blonde, Wicked, Aladdin) featured some of Australia’s favourite and well known musical theatre darlings as well as up-and-coming stars.

What I especially enjoy about industry events like this is that it gives the performers a chance to sing songs they would normally not get a chance to sing to the paying public. Songs that are from their dream role, songs that are from shows they know they may not ever get cast in or songs that they just simply love.

Expertly accompanied by pianist Kohan Van Sambeeck, over three acts we were treated to songs from some of the biggest musicals in the world right now such as “Hamilton” and “Waitress”, to much loved classics like “Phantom of the Opera”, “Oliver” and “West Side Story”.

Performers on the night were Snell, Rob Mills (Wicked, Ghost the Musical, Grease), Stephen Mahy (Miss Saigon, Jersey Boys, The Rocky Horror Show), Martin Croft (Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera), Ruva Ngwenya (The Lion King, We Will Rock You, Beautiful), Imogen Moore (Muriel’s Wedding, Anything Goes, Hello Dolly!), Jayme-Lee Hanekom (The Lion King, The Colour Purple, In the Heights) and rising star Oliver Thomson (‘The Man. The Music. The Show’ with Hugh Jackman).

All performances on the night were exceptional, Scott and Snell did an absolutely incredible job to gather such amazing talent together for one night, but there were a few personal standouts.

Hanekom, who I’ve not had the pleasure in seeing in an onstage role, was a revelation. Her three songs – “I’m Here” from The Colour Purple, “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress and “I am Changing” from Dream Girls – shows a depth and maturity far beyond her years and I will be tracking this talented young lady’s career with excitement. She deserved all the applause and standing ovations received.

If you follow Snell on social media, you would have seen that he was very nervous leading up to this event, as he had chosen to sing songs that were pushing him out of his comfort zone. Mike, if you are reading this, please continue to push yourself as your song choices were outstanding and your performance even more so. From “Sunset Boulevard” to your two duets – “Lily’s Eyes” from the Secret Garden with Stephen Mahy and the delightfully comedic “Agony” from Into the Woods with Rob Mills and lastly (but by no means least) “I Need to Know” from Jekyll and Hyde, you were simply a joy to watch!

Still too often slotted into the “reality TV star” category, Mills showed on the night why he is solidifying his place in the upper echelons of musical theatre stardom in Australia. Especially with his performance of “Moving Too Fast” from The Last 5 Years and “You’ll be Back” from Hamilton.

As a huge fan of the TV show Smash, I was delighted to see that Ngwenya would be performing “They Just Keep Moving The Line” and I wasn’t disappointed. She also performed a Hamilton number, “Satisfied” and shared that unfortunately her Hamilton audition was not successful. After hearing her sing that number, the entire audience was left wondering why!

This first event is promised to be the first of many, and I certainly hope it is. With the Rob Guest Endowment Award now no longer a major showcase ticketed event, there are fewer opportunities to see the incredible array of musical theatre talent Australia has at nights like this.

Bravo to Jackie Scott, Mike Snell and the entire team for a show stopping night.

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