Hands down, Dale Burridge has one of Australia's best musical theatre voices, but you'd be forgiven for not recognizing the name. Now 60, he's honed his craft for decades, but the last 20 years haven't seen him on main stages.
His heyday was not in this millennium, he tells us in At the Crossroads, his biographic show that mingles personal anecdotes with absolute rippers of vocal display. His story is tinged with incredible highs and tough lows. He doesn't reveal everything, but enough to know that, despite the bullying and stints as a builder's apprentice and rug salesman, he was undeniably put on this earth to sing.
With a career treading the boards with Australia and England's finest (Marina Prior, Anthony Warlow, to name a few), Burridge toured the world, sang his way up the theatre ranks and starred in musicals as big as Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. He got to the top of the industry, but there were spectacular falls as well.
Co-written by Martin Crewes, At the Crossroads brilliantly mixes storytelling with big musical numbers (from Phantom, Oklahoma, Chess, Man of La Mancha, Les Mis and more). Burridge nails them all; his rich voice hitting truly extraordinary notes that only a highly-practiced and developed artist can produce.
But like many mature artists, Burridge struggles with relevance as he ages. This personal show is his long-time-in-the-making proclamation that he does indeed still have something to give – his voice, his songs, his experiences.
If that sounds indulgent – it could be, but here it is not. Two 45-minute acts consisting of just Burridge and accompanists Lindsay Partridge (piano and musical arrangements) and Mark Szeto (bass) in a cabaret style formation flew by. The quality of the material and Burridge's vocal skill are so good – it felt too short.
The ageing musical theatre star/diva memoir is a familiar trope, but this production avoids sappy cliches. It's simultaneously polished and raw; bitter and hopeful; honest and illusive.
As confronting as it may have been for Burridge, it was a smooth move to put himself back out on stage, as musical theatre/cabaret audiences of all ages will love and relate to At The Crossroads.
At the Crossroads will tour in 2022.
Dale Burridge Productions presents
At The Crossroads
by Dale Burridge and Martin Crewes
Director Martin Crewes
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC
Dates: 3 – 4 December 2021