Rachel Pupazzoni


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Review: Dream Lover

I’ll admit, when I first heard about ‘Dream Lover: The Bobby Darin Musical’ I thought, ‘who’s that?’.

But a quick Google and YouTube search later I realised I knew a lot of his songs.  Thanks mostly to my mum’s music taste influencing mine.  Mac The Knife, Splish Splash, Dream Lover, Things and Beyond the Sea among his some of the songs that I recognised.  So I was looking forward to seeing the show.

bobby-darin-poster

The poster.  Image from Dream Lover – Musical Facebook page.

Sadly, it’s opening number did not live up to my expectations.

The set was good.  It reminded me of an old ‘band stand’ type style.  A black stage, with podiums slowly increasing in size and musicians pride of place on top of them.  The whole lot was bordered by an arc of bright blue lights that changed colour and strobe patterns through the show.  That was cool.  I liked that the 18 piece band was such a focal point – it makes sense, after all this is a show about music.

 

stage

The stage. Image from Dream Lover – Musical Facebook page.  

 

The show opened with Mac The Knife.  Woohoo, I thought, I love this song.  But enter the first cliché of the night: David Campbell aka Bobby Darin rose up from inside the stage, dressed in a tuxedo and singing in that staccato way Mac The Knife is sung – in between the musicians.  While he was singing a great song, I could hardly hear him.  His voice was not loud enough compared to the band.

A bunch of backup dancers and singers joined him on stage in black trench coats and hats. The number definitely got better as it went along.  But I was after a bit more pizzaz to get me in the mood from the outset.

As the show went on David Campbell clearly began to feel more comfortable and get into the groove of things. His musical performances definitely got better.  Highlights for me included: Splish Splash (perhaps a better opening number with the bright bath towels, sparkly bikinis and boys in boardies); Call Me Irresponsible as Bobby Dari wooed Sandra Dee (played by Hannah Fredericksen) on the set of Come September; their duet version of Dream Lover on the couch after she opens up about her past and; the ballad version of More sung by Nina (played by Marney McQueen) and Polly (Caroline O’Connor).

A gold star to Marney McQueen whose voice blew me away.  While her speaking voice was, for me, a little exaggerated-America-musical-theatre for me, when she sang More I was blown away. In fact it was that song that made me then download the accompanying soundtrack of Dream Lover.

It’s always a treat to see Australia’s musical theatre darling Caroline O’Connor.  Her voice is like no other.  She cleverly portrayed two very different characters in this show.  If it wasn’t for her unique voice I probably wouldn’t have realised it!

One critique – the show is too long.  There are a few slow points that I’m sure could be done more succinctly (or not at all) to shave off 20-30 minutes from the show. The first half of his life is extensively covered, the downfall and latter years, not so much.  I think the creative team could do something to address that.

But for all the Bobby Darin diehards out there (looking at you mum) then this show is for you. All the classics you know, a great band, short cameos from other music greats such as Buddy Holly (Tim Madden) and Frankie Avalon (Joshua Robson) plus flashing lights, glitter, sequins and a lot of toe taping.

A special treat at the end of the opening night performance was Bobby Darin’s son Dodd taking to the stage to give his thanks and regards to the team.  It’s hard to believe this is the first musical ever produced about Bobby Darin’s life – his music repertoire could probably fill three different shows!

dodd-darin

David Campbell and Dodd Darin.  Image from Dream Lover – Musicla Facebook page.

I must give kudos to David Campbell. I’ve seen him on his usual TV gig most mornings this week.  It can’t be easy doubling up like that, from taking on Bobby Darin until the late hours, then wiping off the stage makeup to make room for the TV makeup to be himself.

 

Let me know what you think of the show!

 

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Olympics

Years ago I visited the Olympics Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It was pretty great!!

I love what the Olympic Games represents.  To me, they’re about pushing aside any political woes, the atrocities of the world – and there are many – and realising the good we humans can do.  Now of course, I am the first to say we actually need to pay much more attention to the ridiculous amount of pain and suffering in the world.  The money spent preparing athletes could be much better used sheltering the homeless, feeding the starving and allowing researchers to make new discoveries.  But I’m aiming to write a happy piece here, so I’ll leave that aside for now.  I would also say the level of competitiveness between athletes goes too far.  But if I put my blinkers on and look straight down the middle, blurry section, I see teamwork, kindness, laughter, health, learning and humanity on show.

I learnt from that visit to the Olympic Museum back in 2009 that the modern games were founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He loved the idea of the ancient Olympic Games from Olympia, Greece (they ended in 393 AD) that he thought he’d set up a modern version.  So off he went.  He created the International Olympic Committee in 1894.  His aim was ‘to help build a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport.’ (I found that line on the museum’s website olympic.org)

The first Olympic Games of the modern era took place in Athens in 1896.

 

Prior to the Rio games starting, some of my colleagues were discussing how they didn’t think it would be a good opening ceremony ‘because they didn’t know any famous Brazilians who’d be in it, unlike the Spice Girls at London’.  But that’s what I love the most.  There is so much to learn about Brazil.  I loved the opening ceremony!  I found I learnt a few things and enjoyed a great show at the same time.

So back to what I love about the games.  Here are my top 11 moments from Rio 2016.  In no particular order (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some).

  1. Witnessing Michael Phelps continue to outdo himself.  23 Olympic gold medals is one heck of a resume.
  2. That photo of the lifeguard at the pool.
  3. Usain Bolt’s triple triple.
  4. The post swim interviews by our swimmers – all the ones I saw showed each swimmer humble and proud, no matter what time and in what order they touched the end of the pool.
  5. Simone Biles.
  6. The marriage proposals.
  7. New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and American runner Abbey D’Agostino in the 5000m heat.
  8. Melissa Tapper.  After her efforts at the Olympics she’s now preparing for the table tennis tournament in the Paralympics!
  9. Colombia’s Caterine Ibargüen winning the triple jump (I have a personal link to Colombia).
  10. Chloe Esposito and my newfound love for pentathlon.
  11. Watching the Matilda’s against Brazil – although I didn’t like the result, obviously.

As I write this, the closing ceremony is just a few hours away.  It’s been a great couple of weeks Rio.  Thanks for the inspiration athletes of the world!

 

 

 


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Bangarra: A review

As if imitating, through performance, a recent tragedy for the Banagrra clan, its latest season was an evening of melancholy, considered thought, confronting imagery and a standing ovation to end.

OUR land people stories is the company’s latest triple bill of contemporary works.  It’s dedicated to David Page, the company’s music director who died suddenly in April.

The evening opened with a piece created in 2013 by choreographer Jasmin Sheppard.  Macq chronicles the impact of Governor Lachlan Macqaurie on Indigenous Australia.  The first scene; a woman wailing over a dead body.  I suddenly realised, this was not going to be the fun night I’d promised my fellow ticket-holder.

Macq was first performed in 2013 as part of Dance Clan 3.  David Page composed the music.  So no doubt for the company, this was an emotional piece to perform.  And emotional and confronting it certainly was to watch.

From the wailing woman, to the mad scene of Macquarie – this was tough viewing.  I inhaled a short, sharp breath when the lights faded up on what appeared to be three bodies hanging. As the light grew brighter, but was still dim with an eery glow, I realised the three men were being held by three other men.  But this imagery was clear, and in your face.  These men depicted the many hangings ordered by Macquarie.  As the six men moved, creating even more confronting images, I began to relax into the piece and eventually found it beautiful, as the light fell on their bodies while they created the fluid shapes.  It was the best part of the piece.

The second piece in the evening’s repertoire was new work Miyagan, created by company dancers Daniel Riley and Beau Dean Riley Smith.  They describe it as a ‘poignant dance story mapping their cultural heritage in a discovery of their family background on Wiradjuri country in New South Wales’.

The standout for me in this piece was the set.  Designed by Head of Design Jacob Nash, this set grew and improved.  It starts as a couple of huge branches hanging in the middle of the stage, with giant feathers on them.  Bathed in golden light, it was striking.  As the piece went on, more and more feathered branches  joined the original.  It was very impressive.

feathered set

The feathered set of Miyagan. Image from Bangarra Facebook page.

I liked seeing what I would describe as ‘traditional’ steps in the choreography.  As a non-Indigenous person, I won’t claim to know anything about traditional Indigenous dance steps, but I felt like I saw a lot more of it in this piece than in the first.  And I liked that.

Helpmann and ARIA award winner Paul Mac created the music for this work.  It was varied, with changes in pace throughout.  Which was good.  The dancing reflected that.  But the music/sound was way too loud.  It made watching this piece uncomfortable and it distracted me.  (Am I getting too old?)

The final piece was Artistic Director, Stephen Page’s, Nyapanyapa.  It’s based on the work and life story of the artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu from North East Arnhem Land.  Composer Steve Francis, who’s created scores for eight Bangarra productions, created the sound for this piece.

This work had what I came to see.   A story about Aboriginal life told simply and beautifully, the sounds of Indigenous voices and music, stunning costumes and lots of bodies on stage performing rich, energetic, emotional and interesting dance.  He’s been Artistic Director for 25 years, but Stephen Page has still got it.  This piece showcased what Bangarra is all about.  Sharing rich and diverse Aboriginal culture with people like me.

NYAPANYAPA

Bangarra dancers perform Stephen Page’s Nyapanyapa. Image from Bangarra Facebook page.

Again, Jacob Nash’s set was fantastic.  What better way to pay homage to an artist, than to have massive artworks on display.  Simple in their design, each piece was striking in its impact.  The traditional artworks were modernised too, with a few of them doubling up as canvases for other images to be projected on to.

The piece was emotional, but uplifting.  It was the perfect end to a night dedicated to one of the key people in the creation and significance of Bangarra.  David Page.

The audience applauded and stood with appreciation as the team involved in creating this cultural event took to the stage, including artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu.

OUR land people stories tours nationally.

It opens in Perth on July 20, Canberra on July 28, Brisbane on August 12 and Melbourne on September 1.

Macq (2013)
Choreography: Jasmin Sheppard
Music: David Page
Set Design: Jacob Nash
Costume Design: Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Design: Matt Cox
Cultural Consultant: Frances Bodkin

Miyagan (2016)
Choreography: Beau Dean Riley Smith and Daniel Riley
Music: Paul Mac
Set Design: Jacob Nash
Costume Design: Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Design: Matt Cox
Cultural Consultant: Diane McNaboe, Lynette Riley

Nyapanyapa (2016)
Choreography: Stephen Page
Music: Steve Francis
Set Design: Jacob Nash
Costume Design: Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Design: Matt Cox

More information about this performance and the company at Bangarra’s website.

*Images from Banagrra Dance Theatre Facebook page