It was always going to be an emotional evening of theatre when presenting a production so closely connected with an Australian icon. Jon English who co wrote and starred in the 2004 production was the force of nature behind Paris – A Rock Odyssey. Jon’s sudden death, just over 12 months ago, leaves behind a legion of fans and peers committed to paying tribute to the man and the show in which he loved so much.
And what a show! Talk about having the whole package: romance, betrayal, feuding warriors, gods and goddesses, history and humor. Not to mention a score worthy of any stadium. Based on the ancient Greek fable of the young Prince Paris of Troy (Mathew Manahan) who chooses devotion to the god of love Aphrodite over the God of Wisdom Athena and dooms his city to decades of war. Sent by his father to Greece to show their allegiance, Paris instead falls in love with Helen (Madeleine Featherby) who happens to be the Spartan King’s (Mark Dickinson) wife.
As Paris sees the image of Aphrodite in Helen, he swears his enduring love and the two escape back to Troy where they are met with fury at having been the catalyst for all out war between the two nations.
Presented by Music Theatre Melbourne, the company stayed true to their principles in a production that mixed the pinnacle of Australian musical royalty with recent graduates and the country’s finest up-and-coming artists. Musical Director Isaac Hayward (New Zealand Opera, Opera Australia) was as professional and accomplished as many twice his age and stayed true to the difficult score.
Featuring Aussie legends of the stage, screen and many a rock star, Paris brought together the crème de le crème of Aussie talent united by their respect and love for the man who made it all possible.
John Waters, who featured on the original recording of Paris reappears as the cunning Ulysses, outsmarting the people of Troy with the famous Wooden Trojan Horse, with the dim witted Sinon (Brian Manix) stowed inside. Manix cheekily stole the show with the number “inside, outside” as he performed the choreography in Jon’s signature style.
With killer vocals from the consistently ignored but visionary Cassandra (Kerrie Anne Greenland), warrior Achilles (Ben Mingay) and nuanced performance of Patroclus (Tod Strike) there was so much to love about this production.
Joined on stage at the Melbourne Recital Centre by Jon’s son Jonathan Sora-English on guitar there was barely a dry eye in the house as the final song was played as his father’s image was projected behind him.
The enduring theme of this production of Paris was love. “Love has power” after all and there was a lot of love in the Recital Centre, not only for the man so passionate to see this production on a professional stage, but for the musical theatre community, for producing Australian made musicals, and for embracing the wealth of talent at our very doorstep.
Music Theatre in association with Stella Entertainment Presents
Paris – A Rock Odyssey
co-written by Jon English and David Mackay
Venue: Melbourne Recital Centre
Dates: 13 – 15 July 2017
Tickets: $69 – $129
Bookings: (03) 9699 3333 | www.melbournerecital.com.au