Proving the age old saying ‘the show must go on’, Blue Saint’s acclaimed production of Songs For A New World is currently experiencing a tumultuous second Sydney season!
I was lucky enough to see the first season of this production in Melbourne with the phenomenal talents of Natalie O’Donnell, Tegan Wouters, John O’Hara and Linden Furnell. As an ensemble, they were tight and produced one of the best performances of this show I had seen.Read the original review here: http://www.theatrepeople.com.
Finding myself in Sydney for the night with nothing planned, and having loved the original season so much, I decided I’d check out the second cast for this production. Upon my arrival though, I found a sign at the Hayes announcing a different line up to what had been previously advertised.
Coming down sick earlier this week, Sophie Carter was replaced by the sublime Natalie O’Donnell who performed in Melbourne’s season. Wednesday and Thursday’s performances were cancelled in order to fly O’Donnell – who was no doubt happily enjoying the successes of husband Simon Gleeson’s current performance in Curtains by The Production Company – up from Melbourne to replace Carter in the role she played earlier this year.
As the company held tech rehearsals with O’Donnell on Thursday night, ahead of reopening on Friday, ahead of a final weekend, Tegan Wouters fell sick rendering her unable to perform. Friend of the company, Hilary Cole, who conveniently lives down the road and was available was asked to step in at the last minute, rehearsing Friday during the day ahead of an on-book performance on Friday night.
The two new additions with the two original men of the show managed to pull off a second performance at today’s matinee before Man 2, Cameron MacDonald, fell sick also rendering him unable to go on for the night’s performance. Enter co-producer Joshua Robson, who with a few hours up his sleeve was able to step into a role he hadn’t yet performed leaving Christopher Scalzo the only originally planned cast member on stage.
And what a triumph the show was! Cole and Robson managed to perform the majority of the show off-book, only turning to it during more intricate ensemble numbers – and it’s a hard score, so this is no simple feat! Both were able to give emotional and sensitive performances with Cole’s being a more innocent and softer Woman 2 and Robson managing to comfortably create resonating moments with strongly portrayed characters around an only occasionally apparent under-rehearsed performance. ‘I Give it All for You’ was particularly powerful, with the two committing to the moment, sharing a vulnerable chemistry.
Scalzo and O’Donnell also performed their respective roles beautifully, grounding the show and helping guide their new cast members throughout. Also worth noting; Scalzo showed chilling vocal maturity and brought gravity to the vocally demanding role that he was able to mould to himself physically and emotionally, while O’Donnell was ever punchy and poignant, brimming with fervour at every appropriate moment.
It was a real treat to watch this new ‘hybrid cast’ guide, trust and support each other through the show, being a clear example of true showmanship. As the final note of the show was sung, there were real connections shared between the cast and the audience. We watched on as the cast looked between themselves with an apparent sense of pride, relief and triumph.
While the producers still don’t know the official cast for tomorrow’s two performances, they do hope to see a return of the original Sydney cast line-up for the final show of the season.
To Blue Saint Productions; congratulations and kudos.
For tickets to the final show go to http://www.hayestheatre.com.au/