Photo – Mark Anolak
It’s a brave director who mounts a work addressing full frontally taboo issues like teen sex, masturbation, physical and sexual abuse, homosexuality, abortion, injustice, oppression of minorities and suicide. Hayley Horton is a brave Director. It is a sensitive, imaginative and clever director who mounts such a work successfully with a youthful cast. Hayley Horton is just such a director, and she brings this award-winning, confronting musical to the Stirling Theatre stage with a talented group of young performers, in a very respectful, absolutely inoffensive, appealing yet challenging way – an altogether successful production.
This fine young cast, with two adults (Kate Anolak and Josh Barkley) playing all the adult protagonists, blends seamlessly with the excellent band directed by Mark DeLaine (in the fine new pit in this theatre).
The complexities of the plot grow out of the web of teenage angst, misinformation, parental embarrassment and conservatism, together with narrow mindedness of the society and oppression of the school environment. The music, billed as “alternative” rock, is a pleasant surprise, and along with the choreography (Thomas Phillips), provides a good vehicle for much of the frustration and anger that this breeds in the teenagers. This is particularly well conveyed by Connor Olsson-Jones as the tragic Moritz. However, while the chorus work is well conceived and presented, the words were often unclear, so that some of the impact was lost.
The entire cast is a bunch of fine voices, such that it is hard to single out individuals. However Mitchell Smith as the dashing Melchior shines, as does Millicent Sarre in the female lead role of Wendla. One other standout is Jemma Allen as Ilse, whose clear voice neatly symbolised hope in the confusion.
The set and its constant, subtle development and revelation also neatly reflects the awakening of sexuality, understanding, maturity and confusion. From its original black and grey darkness, its colour and complexity is slowly revealed, transforming the stage from a dark, almost forbidding cave of ignorance to an intricate jumble of colour and symbolism. The whole show is an awakening in many senses, and one not to be missed.
Hills Musical Company presents
book and lyrics Steven Sater | music Duncan Sheik
Director Hayley Horton
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre | Avenue Road Stirling SA
Dates: November 10 – 25, 2017
Tickets: $32 – $28