Photos – Grant Leslie
It is ten years since Casey Bennetto first wrote Keating! Since its humble beginnings it has grown to become a crowd favourite and is still winning over new audiences today. The story line is self-proclaimed ‘ridiculously pro-Keating’ and it follows a simplified version of Keating’s time as Prime Minister.
The players in Keating! are all political figures of the time. Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia between 1991 and 1996. Before him was Bob Hawke and after was John Howard. With these three prominent public figures as leads you can’t really go wrong. Throw in Alexander Downer and you have the perfect personalities for successful show.
Birdie Productions have done a fantastic job on Keating! and the casting is perfect. Andy Leonard who plays Keating is outstanding. His performance of ‘On the Floor/I Want to do you Slowly’ had the audience in stiches. Leonard performed a range of musical genres. He won a rap battle and did it with power in his voice, he danced up a storm in ‘Ma(m)bo’ and also made us feel for him as his time as Prime Minister came to an end. He did all genres with equal panache and it was a joy to watch him perform.
Doron Chester was fantastic as both Bob Hawke and John Howard. He has a physical presence which fills a stage. The show opens with Chester as Hawke and he sets the standard from the first spotlight. His facial expressions, voice and interaction with the audience build a strong platform for the rest of the show.
Jonathon Holmes as Alexander Downer was clearly a favourite. Dressed in a shirt, fishnet stockings, garter and heels Holmes performed ‘Freaky’, a tribute to Downer's controversial cross dressing stunt at a charity event. Holmes was fabulous as he performed moves that most would only do in sneakers or at least ballet flats. He made us feel wonderfully uncomfortable as he danced both on the stage and through the crowd. He was relentless in his energy and the crowd loved it.
Throughout the performance the stage remained quite bare, with very little staging at all. Most of the scene changes were achieved with lighting effects. This minimal approach to staging worked well as both the actors and the characters they were playing had such big personalities they were able to fill the space themselves.
This dynamic cast were brilliant and their abilities as both singers and actors were perfectly suited to this production.
Birdie Productions presents
KEATING! THE MUSICAL
music and lyrics by Casey Bennetto
Director Jordy Shea
Venue: Bryan Brown Theatre, 80 Rickard Road, Bankstown
Dates: 15 – 19 July 2015
Bookings: www.birdieproductions.com.au | 9731 1620