Guy/Doll, the second in the DownStairs at the Maj Cabaret Soiree season, highlighted the good and bad in cabaret collaboration. There were some brilliant "mashups" – the joining of two or more songs to form one cohesive soul, and several of the duets were well matched and connected.
What Guy/Doll lacked was a strong line tying it together (other than the original premise), and consistency. The disjointed nature of the show made it evident that many hands had created it (Izaak Lim, Nick Maclaine, Andrew Williams) and directed it (Maclaine and Williams with Jangoo Chapkhana as Musical Director) and whilst many hands may make light work, it does not a cohesive show make.
Based around the "gender bending" principle that the men perform songs normally tackled by females and vise versa, the two hour (plus interval) show contained an eclectic mix of pop and musical numbers, performed by four singers (David Bowyer, Julia Jenkins, Corinne Cowling, Will O'Mahony). The male / female swap was for the most part successful, creating some unusual and inspirational alterations on well known songs (I Feel Pretty, I Kissed a Girl, My Girl, and My Guy).
Guy/Doll provided the audience with many amusing moments, primarily by Bowyer whose elastic face and rich, fulsome voice was a highlight. A 2010 WAAPA Musical Theatre graduate, Bowyer is currently studying classical voice (also at WAAPA), the training of which was evident in his delivery and tone.
Newcomer Cowling, also majoring in classical voice at WAAPA, is one to watch. Her rendition of Maria (West Side Story) was superb, soaring and emotive. Throughout the show Cowling interacted and connected expertly with the other performers, a trait the others failed to do consistently.
O'Mahony was the weakest performer, although sung duets satisfactorily with both Cowling (Serious – Legally Blonde the Musical), and Bowyer (Popular – Wicked). His adaptation of Defying Gravity (Wicked), whilst melodically "correct", lacked the power and depth (both of emotion and voice) that would have made the song truly memorable.
Cabaret regular Jenkins was in first-rate powerhouse form. Even microphone problems, unfortunately during an otherwise faultless rendition of My Fair Lady's On The Street Where You Live, couldn't dent her robust voice and stage presence.
The four performers were skillfully accompanied by musical director Chapkhana, who is also responsible for the majority of the musical arrangements. The style of piano arrangement wasn't exactly to my taste (too flowery at risk of overpowering the singers), but there is no doubting Chapkhana's talent at creating interesting and workable "mashups".
Guy/Doll is an enjoyable show, uneven at times, but with enough good qualities to allow you have a pleasant night out.
devised by Izaak Lim, Nick Maclaine & Andrew Williams
Directed by Nick Maclaine & Andrew Williams
Venue: DownStairs at the Maj | 825 Hay St, Perth
Dates: Wed 27 – Fri 29 Jun @ 7.30pm, Sat 30 Jun @ 6.30pm
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing 9484 1133 | bocsticketing.com.au