October 5, 2012

Le Burlesque Au Moulin

Le Burlesque Au Moulin! is a good musical with fantastic singing, a great live band, brilliant choreography and costumes, yet if half of the acting scenes were left out, it wouldn't be any less of a show than it is.

The set up of the stage area is nice, yet small. It is taken up mostly by the presence of a live band, and I wonder where the scenes will take place, yet they fit it nicely without over crowding. There are some tables close to the front set out for the audience that fit in with the scene design, yet there is some confusion if patrons are allowed to sit there as some are reserved, some are not. They are a nice touch, but it had a "not allowed to sit here" feel.

The show kicks off with the band playing a number and the eerie narrator (Benjamin Priest) telling the story, introducing our burlesque girls. The girls are great with a good dance number that is well structured, they are very mesmerising as they should be.  The leader of the burlesque girls (Janelle Pollock), who I shall call Mistress Rouge as no one in the show had a character name, has great stage presence and a great voice. She, throughout the whole show, holds every scene.

Next up is our introduction to our main male protagonist, the Ewan McGregor character (Jesse Finn); the two guys who are just always around (Jeff Bell and Sam Benton); and the girls who will prominently be the backup singers (Kirsty Moir, Ingrid Dyer and Bonnie Riley). I found this scene very awkward to watch, it feels clunky, which isn't helped by the following scene where the group after getting drunk and singing Children of the Revolution together, head to the Moulin Rouge where a big mash up of songs and characters happens. It's over the top and a bit awkward.

The main female protagonist is introduced now - the Nicole Kidman character (Cassandra Tse). She is overshadowed big time by Mistress Rogue simply because she is so great. Our next character is shortly introduced and I discover that Mistress Rouge has some competition - Diva Nicole Kidman (Sheree Moanaroa). Sheree plays the bitch fantastically, and her voice is amazing. Her duet with Cassandra for Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend is great and I want to see more. She is over the top - but in a good way.

Three of the burlesque girls (Kirsty, Bonnie and Hannah Bain) have a song to convince Cassandra that she needs a gimmick to get through in the business of burlesque. It's a good laugh, but Bonnie could do with being less stiff - she is like this as a back up dancer too, whilst Kirsty is a little too excited in her moves (good to see, but there's no consistency between the three girls. Their singing styles really compliment each other, but their movements could be more in sync).

Jesse a.k.a Ewan McGregor, has his first one on one scene with Cassandra a.k.a Nicole Kidman. It's sweet, and it's the famous Your Song, which has a lovely opera backing voice by Master Moulin (Chris Green). Chris's voice really adds a beautiful element to it. Yet the scene is let down by the lack of chemistry. Cassandra claims she's falling in love. She's not really portraying that very well. It's the same with their other duet - Come What May - a great scene that was hindered by the lack of 'love'.

And to close off Act One, of course Lady Marmalade was performed. Great performance there - but was there a piece missing? It was noticeable. And the narrator presence was creepy.

Act Two kicks off with a good song number by Marley Araiti, good opening after the interval, yet the next few scenes lack excitement - Ingrid Dyer brings it all back with a great hit I'm a Good Girl - well sung, well acted, very funny.

While the characters worry about the state of the Moulin Rogue's finances, Master Moulin starts up with Queen's famous The Show Must Go On. I was nervous about this - anyone doing a Queen song has got to nail it. But it was wonderful. There was tension, intensity, beautiful harmonies. Wonderful.

The 'evil' character is brought on - the investor (Waylon Edwards) to save the Moulin Rogue, yet at a price. Roxanne is performed to a Tango with Stacey Neale. Brilliant Tango and brilliant tension in the scene as well. There is fear brought on by Waylon, and a slight craziness. The song is added to by Jesse, distraught his love is caught up in this. Adds very nicely to the scene.

To finish things up, Diva Nicole (Sheree) has a solo which is very strong yet reflective of her character. The show wraps up its characters paths and ends with, of course, Lady Marmalade, but on a very strong note - a note which has been the strongest the whole show; that Sheree and Janelle were the best in every scene and that this could have stood as a musical with much less of it's acting scenes, and still be fantastic. Nonetheless, it was a fun show to watch, and the singing and dancing was amazing.

A Speakeasy Theatre production.
Showing: 4-13 October, 7.30pm at the Gryphon Theatre

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