The Hopgood Theatre was almost full with a highly expectant crowd of grey-heads, the best audience to perform to, I think. These are folk who generally have loved theatre for years and, whatever else age determines has to be put aside like skiing and surfing for instance, the theatre goes on for them. They are generally appreciative and warm but, at the same time, they are experienced in the joy of being out front and know good from bad. They know that the matinee they saw today Make Mama Proud is good and, by golly, they enjoyed it. Mind you, it is right up their musical street and, asked to join in, they did with gusto and most pleasantly. They knew too that they were watching a quality performance by a young woman, Aurora MacKrill, who puts energy and style into her portrayal of Liza Minnelli whose Mama of the title was Judy Garland.
Aurora is accompanied by a pianist who also lends his voice when needed and plays a piece (and sings doo-dee-doo, doo-dee-doos) à la Dudley Moore its composer, while Aurora is offstage baring her good looking legs. Dudley and Liza were very good friends.
This show is part of the Country Arts programme which has just played Port Pirie and will next go to Mt. Gambier. The Hopgood Theatre at Noarlunga is a friendly and pleasing theatre, comfortable for the audience and it is in a place where free parking nearby is at least possible. Most theatres have no or inadequate parking, making a trip to see a production either much more expensive than it already is when a big parking fee has to be paid or it means a long walk. So three cheers to Country Arts for choosing a theatre which is part of a big shopping centre.
Aurora sparkles, not only because she looks terrific, her costumes are brilliant and colourful with sequins picking up the light, but because of her vivacious and outgoing personality. It would have to be, since she is currently portraying some wonderful stage and film personalities in her career, and if they are all as good as she gives us about the life (still continuing apace) of Liza Minnelli, then the audience are right in so vociferously asking her to come back. It helps that she looks somewhat like Liza but it’s the powerful and good voice, the dancing and the style that is so winning.
Early on, she makes it clear how to pronounce her name so that we never again might make a mistake. It’s Liza. Pronounced Lyza. Obviously the star herself got so sick of being called Lisa (Leesa) she sang a song about it. That’s when she makes her first real audience contact at the Hopgood and from then on she has us in her hands. She sings “Love and marriage” and Liza tells us of the four tries she had at that institution, including one to Australian, Peter Allan. She said, “You know what happened to that.” I wondered if everyone did. Refer to The Boy from Oz if you don’t. With a sequinned top hat Liza changed style with “And all that jazz” – great song, very well sung.
She tells us that living under the shadow of a legend – her mother – wasn’t easy and she lived with the “of course syndrome.” Such as – “can she sing, dance, act?” “Well, of course – she’s Judy Garland’s daughter.” When she was given the leading role of Sally Bowles in the film Cabaret, Liza found financial independence and Aurora gives us a beautifully clear, touching and amusing performance of the title song and a delightfully snappy performance of Bye ‘bye mein liebe Herr from that excellent show.
On with a black bowler hat and white gloves Aurora continues to draw the house to her by urging them to join her singing Al Jolson’s Mammy and when, sadly, the show comes to an end and she comes back for an encore, she is asked to sing “New York, New York”, the song written for her for the film but commandeered by The Chairman of the Board and other star of the film, Frank Sinatra.
Given the title of this show, I expected to hear more, much more, about Liza’s relationship with her so famous mother and think the content would be enhanced by giving us more insight into that. Aurora MacKrill is a talented performer and the hope of that happy audience is that we will see much more of her in days to come.
Country Arts SA presents
Make Mama Proud
Venue: Hopgood Theatre | Noarlunga SA
Dates: 10 April 2018
Tickets: $20 – $22
Bookings: (08) 7009 4400