Linking script by Wayne Simes
Nostalgics, the sixties sit-on-a-stool comedian Shelley Berman once quipped, is one of the games you can play with yourself. It’s also a game the performers of this patchwork Arts Theatre production play with their audience. It sets out simply to entertain, and succeeds by oiling the doors of memory through the magic of music – the pop songs of the sixties (Act 1), and the seventies and eighties (Act 2).
It is easy to sympathise with director Lynne Wright who had, the program informs us, set out and then abandoned a production of A Chorus Line; flirted with Leader of the Pack-The Ellie Greenwich Musical but couldn’t secure the rights; and finally, with the enthusiastic assistance of her performing troupe of nine women and three men , hit upon the idea of hits of three earlier decades and cobbled them together with a narrative by Wayne Simes. This, for Brisbanites at least, is packed with memory-pricking nostalgics every bit as telling as the musical numbers themselves.
Clearly most of the performers are neither trained singers nor dancers, but what they lack in these departments they compensate for with infectious enjoyment of playing it out to us. On the night I attended the audience responded well, even willingly joining the group on stage to dance along.
Act 1 gives everything from “Sentimental Journey” to “Down Town” and “Aquarius” from the notorious Hair which, the narrative reminds us, was considered too risqué and immorally seductive to ever play in the backward backwoods of sixties Brisbane.
Act 2 journeys through “Celebration”, John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and the evening concludes aptly with the Ray Charles evergreen, “Hit the Road Jack”.
In accordance with the tradition of an ensemble enterprise, no individual credit identification is given in the program, but the female performers of “Me and Bobby Magee” and “Sweet Dreams” deserve special mention. Both are blessed with great voices and both know how to sell a song.
For those who were there at the time, remember the sixties and what a 45rpm looked like, this is a sentimental journey well worth the taking.
Directed by Lynne Wright
Playing until 31 December 2006: Wed – Sat at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm.
Duration : About 2 hours with a 20 min interval.