Left - Compere Nancye Hayes. Cover - Judi Connelli
Nothing shines quite like a Diva. The diamonds, the dresses. Oh. The dresses. What I wouldn’t give for Rhonda Burchmore’s stylist. (Or even a quarter of her leg length for that matter – and those who know me will realise how very serious I am right now.) Seven honest-to-God divas came together in full voice at the Concert Hall over the weekend and razzled and dazzled their way into the hearts of an appreciative Perth crowd.
WASO, split into two by the obligatory steps from which any self respecting diva must descend, delivered that authentic Broadway sound with rich aplomb, and I can’t imagine any leading lady wanting more from her musicians.
Nancye Hayes provided both sass and ceremony as compere for the evening, dishing up some history along with some highbrow humour for each number. She introduced Rachel Beck’s stunning version of The Sound of Music by suggesting “what a very good place to start” it would be.
To have Sharon Millerchip, Geraldine Turner, Judi Connelli, Anne Wood, Rachel Beck and Rhonda Burchmore all belting out One, from A Chorus Line, and Broadway Baby from Follies, is a musical theatre devotee’s idea of heaven, I’m sure. Diamonds and dresses aside, these ladies know how to sing.
Each of the highly experienced and acclaimed leading ladies (with three Order of Australia medals between them) performed a variety of their favourite and often award-winning numbers. While it seems a daunting task to pick a favourite, Rachel Beck’s breathtaking voice gave my heart-strings quite the tug in her flawless and powerful renditions of The Sound of Music and Cabaret. Sharon Millerchip’s feisty version of If My Friends Could See Me Now was pure, toe-tapping entertainment, as was Nancye Hayes’ wonderfully nasal delivery of Adelaide’s Lament (from Guys and Dolls). I’m pretty sure I heard a few appreciate sighs and sniffles with a decidedly feminine cadence during Geraldine Turner’s melancholy As Long As He Needs Me (Oliver!). The stand-out number for me was Movie in My Mind (Miss Saigon), performed with haunting depth and great technical skill by Rachel Beck and Anne Wood.
The night wasn’t all sequins and glamour; there were some technical difficulties with the spot light at several points. Of course, a true diva can take any hitch in her seductive stride, Burchmore and Wood proving this with some wonderful ad-libbing while completely in the dark: “I can barely see you in this light, darling, what colour is that dress, dark brown?”
There was no lack of colour in the fabulous encore number There’s No Business Like Show Business (Annie Get Your Gun), which saw all seven ladies on stage in eye-popping gowns, the audience enthusiastically clapping along. I did find myself wishing that there had been more numbers with all of the gals together (there were five, including the encore) because the sound they produced as an ensemble was really quite something to behold, and provided some of the most enjoyable moments of a fine evening.
Australia's Leading Ladies
Venue: Perth Concert Hall
Dates/Times: 8pm, Friday 17 & Saturday 18 October
Tickets: $70.00 - $85.00
Bookings: WASO on 9326 0000 or www.waso.com.au