The Dummies Guide to Opera | Charlie & FriendsI do love a good pun and “What the Fach?” serves nicely in this musical foray into the depths of Opera through the ages.

In The Dummies Guide to Opera, the cast goes about delivering the answer to this question as well anything else you want (or didn’t want) to know about the great composers of the ages. A large score board with a list of composers dominates upstage centre, and the team goes about scoring them using their unique points system to determine a winner based on their age, death, illness, sponsors and a variety of other factors. I’m just not sure what exactly they won, prestige perhaps?

Having experienced some success at last year’s Fringe Festival, this is the second time around for The Dummies Guide to Opera. The show is created by David Charles and Erin Hutchinson and they are joined by Grace Edwards and Warren Bracken in performing. All are accomplished, WAAPA trained singers with impressive biographies decorated with awards and accomplishments. They have a good relationship on stage and play up the humour and competition as much as they can. Timothy How is the Musical Director and on stage pianist. He pops up every now and then with a cynical comment, and plays the part of the disgruntled accompanist quite well.

I really feel like the show could benefit from more audience interaction. Charlie came down into the audience at the beginning of the show to chat to one person, but that was it until the end of the show, when they asked us to answer a question and join in a song. Because the convention hadn’t been safely established, we were all a little bit shy to participate in the way they wanted us to, even despite the fact that we were a friendly crowd.

Although it’s amusing to anyone, there may be a little more mirth in it for those with a classical music background, particularly the humorous references to vocal stereotypes. Having worked among opera singers in the past, I know they do tend to give each other quite a ribbing on account of them being a soprano, baritone or bass etc., so those with some experience in the field can probably have a laugh as they associate the characteristics to people they know.

The seating in Teatro 1 in the Perth Cultural Centre is terribly uncomfortable and combined with the storm that rolled in being strong enough to rattle the walls and shake the lighting bar above us, the audience seemed a little fidgety by the end of the show. Despite the distractions, the cast strutted and gloriously sung their way through the ages and the audience seemed thrilled.

The show closes on Tuesday so grab a ticket if you can.

Charlie & Friends present
The Dummies Guide to Opera

Venue: Teatro 1 – Perth Cultural Centre | Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge, WA
Dates: February 1 – 3, 2015 

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