From producer/director James Terry, following his Motown Live show, came this second offering which showcases some of the best (and arguably worst) of what the Nineties had to offer musically. With a dynamic cast of six, this show had the audience dancing in their seats, singing along and cheering from start to end.
The band, led by Stephanie Lewendon Lowe, managed to recreate every iconic sound in each song brilliantly. Sound by LSS was consistently good, and only very occasionally did the vocals get muddied into the pop/rock songs. Lighting design by Terry was bold and colourful, with extra effect added via the inclusion of smoke jets.
Jacqueline Irvine and Rachel Bronca stood out with regards to vocal ability. Irvine’s Chains by Tina Arena was the absolute standout vocal number as the singer belted down the house. Bronca also managed to give a most assured Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, and effortlessly carried herself through the performance.
Alexia Brinsley offered the audience a hilarious Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time, with an infectious energy. I would, however, argue that unlike the rest of the cast, her feature moments seemed to parody the original artists rather than pay tribute.
Finn Alexander was charismatic, had a warm-toned voice, and had some great moments in numbers such as Freedom by George Michael. Nik Murillo played the Latin Lothario; his Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin was a comfortable sing and the Spanish lyric inclusion went appreciated.
Terry rounded out the show as the sixth cast member and very comfortably assumed an anchoring presence within the piece with rich baritone vocals and a charming grin.
Group numbers included numbers from the Backstreet Boys, B*Witched, N*Sync, The Spice Girls and S Club 7. All excellent choices… however at times watching only three gender appropriate cast on stage left some of the numbers feeling a little empty. I’d have loved to have seen a number from UK pop group Steps to mix up the genders a little more!
The highlight of the night was Pokemon Theme (Gotta Catch Em All). Not only was it totally unexpected, but the cast seemed to enjoy performing it the most and it was the most polished of all the musical inclusions.
At times, it was a little ironic (don’t ya think) to watch a cast who largely may have been too young to actually experience the 90s, deliver the 90s tribute. The show’s content offered me a chance to relive my childhood, but it felt a little strange having this presented by a cast that seemed up to a decade younger than I am. With most of these songs, I know every original vocal riff, can recognise original choreography to the dances, and lived through all of the nostalgia thrown at me through the night… so I may have rolled my eyes at the cast explaining to a fellow cast member what a Tamagotchi was. Ahh, kids these days!
I understand this show hopes to find future life as a corporate entertainment show, and I can no doubt see this being revived for festivals and the like. While it hit the spot for the raucous and very appreciative Midsumma crowd, I think a few simple tweaks could really give the show more bones, including easier transitions between musical numbers with some of the dialogue refined, costume changes, and a medley or two which would have allowed the cast cover more musical ground. In all reality, an hour wasn’t nearly long enough to do the decade justice in covering all of our favourite 90s hits, and just about everyone left wanting more!
Check out Spice Up Your Life next time it roller blades into town for that feel-good nostalgia fix you’ve been craving!