Photo by Penny Lane
This is a top notch show. It's polished and witty.
Director Michael Loney has put together a dynamic team with years of stage experience as well as formidable talent.
The show opened with a medley of Fields’ tunes played with panache by the Musical Director, Lochlan Brown. Brown is an excellent pianist and an exceptional accompanist.
While many of the Fields songs are familiar, her name is less well known than the musical composers. Much is made of her being a woman in a man’s world – show business in 1928. Cleverly, Isaak Lim and Nick Maclaine have written an informative, entertaining narrative which maintains a smart pace.
We are introduced Fields as a young lyricist, first with composer Jimmy McHugh. Her view of the partnership is more romantic than his and they part. This is the first of quite a few career and personal setbacks but the feisty Dorothy manages to win over the irascible composer Jerome Kern, (Ian Cross). Together they write hit after hit finally winning an Oscar for the catchy show tune, Exactly Like You.
Ali Bodycoat is in beautiful voice and gives a lovely, nuanced performance as Fields, showing her insecurities as well as her spirit and bravado.
Ian Cross was terrific as Jerome Kern. He has style and presence, his voice is very good and his neat dance moves added to the fun.
Isaak Lim was marvellous, taking on three different male characters in the show, with flair. He is a warm and charming performer.
This is an ensemble piece and the actors worked seamlessly together. Their comic timing was terrific and the chemistry between them marvellous. The musical arrangements were lovely as was the ensemble voice work.
Old style voice-overs were used set the scenes and events into context. The first half of the show featured numbers from her years in writing partnership with Kern until his death. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, A Fine Romance and Just The Way You Look Tonight were highlights.
In the second act a much older, retired Fields is lured back to the business by the brash, bumptious young Cy Coleman. The encounter between Fields and Coleman was very funny as they traded insults at blistering speed. Differences resolved, they went on to write the enormously popular Sweet Charity in 1972.
In the final monologue Fields reflects upon the generous friendships of her collaborators.
Bodycoat , Cross and Lim crowned the evening with a spirited rendition of If My Friends Could See Me Now.
The audience responded with cheers. The remaining shows are sold out.
Perth Theatre Trust & His Majesty’s Theatre presents
Exactly Like You: The Magic of Dorothy Fields
Director Michael Loney
Venue: DownStairs at the Maj | 825 Hay Street, Perth
Dates: 9 – 11 Oct, 2014