Printable CopyTHE PALACE OF VARIETIES
Adelaide Repertory Theatre
The Arts Theatre
Until 25 Nov 2017

Review by Janice Bailey

Pam O’Grady’s experience and flair are evident in this thoroughly entertaining and well-executed Music Hall show. Pam has gathered a stellar cast whose obvious enjoyment in what they are presenting is thoroughly infectious. The ‘orchestra’, consisting of the very experienced and talented Miss Sandi McMenamin on piano and Rowan Dennis on drums, work extremely hard all night, ensuring that the action doesn’t falter.

Penni Hamilton-Smith is in her element in her role as Mistress of Ceremonies keeping the audience under control and having a wonderful time. Highlights of the evening would have to be ‘the world famous Balloon Dance’ impeccably executed by Miss Lindy LeCornu and Mr Christopher Evans without the flicker of an eyelash or twitch of the lips – even when things don’t quite go according to plan. Mr Aled Proeve’s ‘Hole in the Elephant’s Bottom’ is delightful. Mr Christopher Meegan has the opportunity to use his magnificent vocal chords with a ‘beautiful Irish medley’. Mr Matthew Gohl with Miss Lindy LeCornu and Miss Laura Antoniazzi keep the audience in suspense with their mind reading and sawing the lady in half!

Interspersed with all of this frivolity and fun, the audience is treated to a dramatic melodrama, “Virtue Always Triumphs or Life in the Wicked City” by Walter Boughton. It is very easy for a melodrama to recede into farce if it is not well directed and portrayed. Once again, under Pam O’Grady’s experienced direction and her obvious delight in working with such a talented cast – this never happens. Buddy Dawson, as Dick Truhart, is well-cast as the young, ingenuous hero from the ‘backwoods’ and has the opportunity to show his vocal ability. Mr David Sinclair is superb as the villain and makes the most of every opportunity to draw the required heckling from the audience. Miss Ashley Penny really shines as Charity, the damsel in distress. Miss Penney’s portrayal is an example of not allowing melodrama to revert to farce. She is shamelessly melodramatic but never is she anything but believable and sweet.

‘Lavish’ scenery constructed by Mr Stanley Tuck and designed and painted by Mr Brian Budgen provides the ambience for the Music Hall setting perfectly. ‘The lavish and authentic’ wardrobe provided by Mrs Helen Snowell, Mr Oliver Lee and the entire cast is colourful and authentic.

Adelaide Repertory Theatre have a reputation for excellence in theatre, particularly in dramatic productions. Music Hall and Melodrama are not easy to do well but with this production they have created a winner. It is a pleasure to spend an evening in the theatre and come away with a smile, without having to ponder too deeply on the message conveyed.