Left – Lucy Durack & Matthew Robinson. Photo – Blueprint Studios
It is productions like Opening Doors that make me want to quit my boring day job and jump back into the arts industry head on. The talent, enthusiasm and passion shown by Matthew Robinson and Lucy Durack during the opening night of the 2012 Cabaret Soiree (DownStairs at the Maj) season was dazzling.
The sold out audience were treated to 80 exceptional minutes of (primarily) original songs by Robinson, interspersed with insightful and funny snippets about the duo's respective careers and the doors that had opened for them.
DownStairs at the Maj has a special place in Robinson's and Durack's story. This is their fourth show for the venue, following their successful cabaret's Metro Street (A Sneak Preview A Narrated Concert), Immaculate Confection, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Opening Doors re-introduces songs from their previous collaborations, as well as some brand new material. Robinson tells the audience that he often finishes new material merely days prior to opening a show and this production is no exception. We are treated to a number of songs from his new (as yet unfinished) musical Atlantis. I feel privileged to be amongst the first few dozen people to hear the melodies and lyrics of what will no doubt be a ragingly successful musical in a few years time.
One of these songs, entitled 'I Will Run' is the "I want" song – that song in a musical that announces to the audience a characters inner most desires and motivations. 'I Will Run' was a soaring powerhouse ballad that just made the audience want more.
Ably accompanied by Pete Evans on drums and Joe Southwell on electric bass, Durack and Robinson are stage naturals. Robinson manages to play the piano and sing his soul out – all without sheet music. In 'Boy Band', a humorous song describing his desire to be rescued by a boy band, he manages to also rap, hip hop, beat box and insert enough boy band references to leave the audience in stitches.
'Dignity', from Robinson's 2009 musical Metro Street and sung by Durack was a personal highlight. With heartfelt lyrics including "Dignity / What do you expect of me?" and "But why not give to me / Something to believe / Walking the line works for now but in time /Is it worth what you do to stand up and pull through?", it was hard not to be effected.
Durack, who is most recognisable as Glinda the good witch from Wicked, has a presence and stillness about her performance that ensures you focus primarily on her achingly clear voice. 'Late Again', from Robinson's musical review Sing On Through Tomorrow (now available on iTunes) showcased her dramatic ability as she swung from over-excited in love, to desperate and depressed in a matter of minutes.
The duo's easy banter illustrates the years of friendship and performing together. What would have been rehearsed (I assume) takes on the feel of a casual, relaxed conversation that segues perfectly into heartfelt, thought provoking songs.
This season of Opening Doors is sold out. However, with the talents that Matthew Robinson and Lucy Durack have, keep your eyes peeled for them to pop up again somewhere sooner rather than later. Rich in substance, powerful in emotion, and overwhelming with talent, Opening Doors is an impeccable production.
DownStairs at the Maj
music & lyrics by Matthew Robinson
Venue: His Majesty's Theatre
Dates: 20 – 23 June, 2012
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing 08 9484 1133 (note: this season is sold out)