Australia’s original Elphaba (Wicked) and originating cast member of We Will Rock You brings her one woman cabaret show Up Close & Reasonably Personal to the Hayes Theatre as part of their outstanding 2015 season.
Co-written by her good friend James Millar and accompanied by well known pianist (also playing a semi-stalkerish Wicked fan) Bev Kennedy, Harrison takes us on a journey through the highs and lows of being a professional musical theatre performer and well as a wife and mother…and Target addict.
The show is, as she says ‘not about me, it’s about you, listening to me talk about me’.
Thoroughly shattering any delusions anyone may have on the glamorous life on stage, Harrison is an open book about how she had to walk away from one of the industry’s greatest roles to accomplish one simple goal – to save her voice.
The show opens with the familiar refrains from Wicked, but Harrison firmly refuses, but sometimes teases to sing anything from the show – until the end (more on that later).
Harrison mixes stories from her personal life with songs that help her tell her story. From “Sunshine and Lollipops”, “Big Time”, to “Tennessee Waltz”, “Send in the Clowns” and “Show Me Heaven” – listening to Harrison’s voice soar in the intimate theatre makes one very glad that she did make the decision to save her precious vocal chords.
It actually made me wonder….does she even need a microphone?
The confessions that Harrison shared into about life at the height of Wicked hype was really fascinating. ‘From uggies, trackies and Target by day to photos, fans and flying by night’. From not being able to communicate verbally with her young family on show days to the terror of online reviews – it truly does give you an appreciation for the dedication of any musical theatre performer.
Harrison is bluntly honest about her life now – ‘a single mother of two’ (as her husband is currently working on Matilda in Sydney whilst the family is in Melbourne), Masterchef and social media addict. Hint – if you aren’t following Harrison on Twitter (@amandaharra), these are some of the gems you are missing:
I swear to god the 90’s style hard rock soundtrack causes me anxiety. #MasterChefAU
Whenever anyone says deconstructed, I want to punch myself in the face. #MasterChefAU
For someone that looks a hell of a lot like Julia Roberts, Ashleigh sure is a downer. #MasterChefAU
Pomegranate, is not a word you can hear over and over without going a little crazy. #MasterChefAU #PomegranatePomegranatePomegranate
One fun element that Harrison worked into the show was reading out confessions from the audience whilst belting out (complete with a wind machine) the 80s classic “Nothings Going To Stop Us Now”. These confessions were collected earlier in the show by Harrison from the audience whilst Kennedy attempted to sing “Defying Gravity” – as she taunted Harrison all night with pleas to sing something from Wicked. It wasn’t quite the version of Gravity we all know and love, it was more like the mis-heard lyric version. It was very amusing, for example “My wifi is unlimited”, and a nice addition to this personable show.
There was a special guest appearance from Hilda Krinkle from Get Ace, a character who Harrison provides the voice over talent for. Hilda treated us to “Send in the Clowns”, I’m always fascinated to hear performers sing in strong character voices.
There were two real treats as part of this show – hearing Harrison sing a sublime version of “Let It Go” and the final song which had to be from Wicked. I’m not going to spoil which song it is, but let’s just say, I wanted to jump out of my seat…it was incredibly amazing to see and hear.
Up Close & Reasonably Personal is a highly entertaining hour and I thank Harrison for this glimpse into her life.