Photos – Steven Potashnyk
The 1960s spawned many-a-memorable musical group which influenced a generation, among them The Mamas and the Papas, who wrote and performed such iconic songs like: I Saw Her Again, Monday Monday and of course the infamous California Dreamin.
Australia’s own, Magnormos, has created the fabulous new musical flowerchildren, a story about the incredible rise and consequent spiraling descent and break up, of the American four member group formed by, Cass Elliot (Casey Donovan), John Phillips (Matt Hetherington), Denny Doherty (Dan Humphries) and Michelle Phillips (Laura Fitzpatrick).
The show charts the journey of The Mamas and the Papas, through a chronological narrative weaved in between extended monologues, with the actors regularly addressing the audience directly for a more personal perspective, of the scenes depicted on stage.
The script is quite funny, considering it explores the not so humourous ups and downs of the group’s drug laden experience during that particular time. Casey Donovan delivered some great one-liner zingers throughout the play in her interpretation of Cass Elliot, successfully projecting Elliot’s sassy character, although at times Donovan also channeled another American icon, Mae West, with the occasional nasal lilting delivery of her lines. I expected to hear her say: “Why don’t you come up and see me some time?”
The stage was designed with a deliberate multi-use purpose, allowing for it to become a recording studio, a Caribbean beach, a cafe, Ed Sullivan’s studio and even a luxurious mansion.
Costumes were bright, colourful and very period appropriate, including the very loud floral print moomoos which Mama Cass was so fond of donning.
flowerchildren is a magnificent celebration of the music that The Mamas and Papas created during America’s cultural phenomenon (some may even say ‘revolution’), which changed music forever.
The cast must have studied a lot of Mamas/Papas YouTube videos, because they reproduced their physical mannerisms: the slouching, bopping, swaying, all done to perfection. They were quite impressive vocally as well, when performing the band’s hits; I focused on their mouths on a few occasions, certain I would detect some very good lip sinking to a playback track, their renditions were that good. Really.
Much like Jersey Boys, this fabulous piece of musical theatre is not limited by, whether or not you were around during the original radio play of the Mamas and Papas’ songs – you need only enjoy music, to appreciate the groovy trip back in time which flowerchildren so fabulously offers to its audience.
The Mamas and Papas Story
Venue: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
Dates: 18 May - 23 June 2013
Tickets: from $88