In a show as unique as the venue in which today’s performance took place, the Brisbane theatre goers are being treated to the talent that the Underground Opera Company has compiled for the small cast of their latest show West End to Broadway… in the Reservoir- The Movie Musicals. 

The mood for the show is set as soon as the door is opened and you walk down the metal staircases and travel underground into what were once the Spring Hill Reservoirs or simply the underground water storage facilities and supplier of what is now the city of Brisbane until 1962.

underground-opera

The voices of Louise Dorsman (Opera QLD, Victorian Opera)Pia Frangiosa (Carrie)Dale Pengelly (Boy From Oz, Singin’ in the Rain) and Lionel Theunissen (Opera QLD, Jesus Christ Superstar) together with acclaimed pianist Brendan Murtagh (Les Miserables, Sound of Music, Jersey Boys) flowed through the wide range of repertoire with songs from 1929’s Broadway Melody composed by Brown and Freed to Murtagh’s 2017 arrangement of Tomorrow.

The emcee for the evening Bruce Edwards introduced each song set with a style of background stories fused with quick wit which made for an educational addition to the show.

Highlights of the first act included Dorsman’s version of ‘Anything Goes’ complete with modernised choreography during the dance break but it was Chicago’s ‘When You’re Good to Mama’ which showcased her already powerful voice which together by the use of a simple feather boa and walking through the audience made it an audience favourite, Frangiosa’s soft and emotional ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, Pengelly’s rendition of Singin’ in the Rain’s title tune which allowed the former Australian and QLD Ballet dancer to inject smooth movement, fancy footwork and turns into the polished performance and Theunissen’s ‘Mister Cellophane’ from Chicago; the facial expressions, hand gestures and vocal changes really made us believe what he was singing.

The second act of the show transitioned from ‘Diamond’s are a Girl’s Best Friend’ to selections of Disney’s passionate love songs. The group number of South Pacific’s ‘Nothing like a Dame’ allowed the audience to experience the five performers on stage together in this delightful and funny tune. At times however as was the case with a few of the songs, Frangiosa’s soft tones were drowned out by the stronger voices. The sound was also momentarily lost with some of the turning movements.

Highlights here were Dorsman’s ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from Evita, Frangiosa and Pengelly’s ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin, Theunissen’s ‘If I Can’t Love Her’ from Beauty and the Beast and the group piece ‘Children Will Listen’ from Into the Woods. The surprise for me this half was ‘Tomorrow’ from the hit musical Annie, a well known and loved tune so when it was announced by Edwards that Murtagh had arranged a version for the show I was very hesitant, but very pleased to be proved wrong, when the four cast members began to sing harmoniously and apart in what was my overall favourite song of the afternoon. As previously mentioned, there was a simple, but effective, use of props such as a boa and a stool though the projected images of scenes of Paris for An American in Paris to Chicago’s Jail Cells served well in creating the imagery and mood to teleport us to each place.

Overall it was a lovely afternoon and I would highly recommend attending West End to Broadway which runs through to Sunday, February 26th. For further information head to: http://www.undergroundopera.com.au/our-concerts/west-end-broadway-reservoir/

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