Left - Poppy Cherry
Should one make concessions for acting skills when performers are baring almost all? Maybe, but there can’t be concessions on basics like making sure the plot is interesting and the sound mix is right. Stage Fright! is touted as a “rollicking night of theatre, comedy, burlesque, song, dance, murder, mystery and madness”. It isn’t (rollicking, mysterious, and mad, that is). Sure, there are songs (two) and there is burlesque (thank God), but the theatre inbetween is sadly limp.
Stage Fright! does have the bare bones of something good, but it needs a lot more polish. Even having Victoria’s newly crowned Miss Burlesque Victoria (Kelly Ann Doll) in the show doesn’t save it from its own mediocrity. The murder mystery, though purposefully clichéd as all good 1920s murder mysteries should be, is wrapped up rather too tritely at the end and the onstage murders really need to be in a proper blackout or else occur offstage for there to be a skerrick of mystery involved.
That said, the performers, as a whole, are good. Poppy Cherry is a true delight on the eyes, and while her acting skills aren’t perfect, they are adequate for this style of show. She brings a gorgeous, cheeky energy to the entire production and is a highly enjoyable burlesque dancer. The standout performance of the evening comes from singer Sarahlouise Younger. Unfortunately the sound mixing for her first song on Sunday night meant that we couldn’t actually hear her, but her second song about being Mrs. Claus (yes, as in Santa’s wife – please don’t ask me why this had anything to do with a 1920s murder mystery burlesque show) was the highlight of the evening. Younger is one talented young woman. Her performance skills, combined with an incredibly powerful and beautifully controlled singing voice and stunning looks, make for a killer combination. Mark Casamento as Alexander Tournier, our MC for the night, is a hoot and has impeccable comedic timing. Burlesque dancer Honey B. Goode provides a cracker, and very memorable, performance to ‘Loving You’ (Minnie Riperton).
Stage Fright! needs to have more consistency within its material. If the show is going to be a whodunnit, as the flyer loudly proclaims in big letters, the songs and dance routines need to fit into the overall theme of the show. There is a very fine line between hamming it up to suit a theatrical style and not bringing enough commitment to what you’re doing. Unfortunately Stage Fright! falls on the wrong side of this line. Still, although the sum of its parts isn’t quite enough, there are some highly entertaining components to this show. Younger’s Santa Claus song has got to be worth the ticket price alone.
Poppy Cherry presents
Written and Directed by Dominic Deacon
Venue: The Order of Melbourne | Level 2, 401 Swanston St, Melbourne
Dates: 8, 15 & 22 May 2011
Times: Doors at 6pm, show starts 8pm
Bookings: www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX (438 849) and all moshtix outlets, including Polyester Records