Staged in an intimate front room of the converted Victorian residence, the effervescent and kitsch A Tribute to Poppins utilises a boy’s passion for musicals as a vehicle to explore the challenges of adolescence and uncovering one’s sexuality. It is at least a semi-autobiographical cabaret style show, which is rich with honesty, and charming due to its heartfelt emotion and endearing humour.
In a highly expressive combination of song and dance, Jonathan Cook, accompanied by the two Bens (one on piano, and one engineering the lighting), tells us a story about his career as an overweight, ‘loud and proud’ Catholic musical altar boy and finding his star quality in a New South Wales country town where men were men, and not ballet dancers.
The lack of sophistication in the script is levelled by the abundance of personal detail, such as the family photographs of Jonathan dressed in a Mary Poppins outfit at age 4, and the relaying of his first kiss with a boy, and his older brother’s reaction to the same. However, the tribute to Jonathan’s grandmother sits awkwardly within the narrative scheme, and only aspects of the core themes are addressed with real depth. This makes the piece fall into the cute rather than penetrating category of theatre.
After reading an excerpt about The Sound of Music from a text on musicals entitled ‘What would Barbara do’, the climax is Jonathan’s excited rendition of Judy Garland’s ‘Be Happy’, mimicking her performance playing on a projector screen. The finale, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is also amusing and ties the show nicely together.
The concept behind this show is quirky yet full of potential.
A Tribute To Poppins
Venue: The Butterfly Club | 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Dates: Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 January
Times: 7.00 pm Thu to Sat / 6.00 pm Sunday
Duration: one hour approx
Tickets: $20 full / $15 concession and for groups of 8 or more
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