HIGH ENERGY AND FAST PACE IN KIWI COMEDY WITH CATCHY TUNES
CHECKOUT CHICKS THE MUSICAL
Book and lyrics by Rachel Callinan
Music and lyrics by Julia Truscott
Directed by Simon Coleman and Jason Te Mete
Next Big Thing / Auckland Theatre Company
at The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 6 Jul 2012 to 21 Jul 2012
Reviewed by Melisa Martin, 7 Jul 2012
Last night Auckland Theatre Company's youth initiative The Next Big Thing presented the world premiere (preview performance) of Checkout Chicks: The Musical by Rachel Callinan and Julia Truscott.
Having been somewhat unforgiving initially, of an inexperienced cast, I was left with a dry taste in my mouth after the final number, which ended with a few off-notes and breathlessness.
That said, I was the first to be caught singing the catchiest lines to ushers as I exited the theatre, into the foyer where hordes of young people gathered, excited, pleased and fulfilled with their evenings entertainment.
The story centres around Elizabeth aka Tashandra (Hazel Tansley-Broad), a well-loved checkout operator at the local Shop 'n' Pay, which is set for demolition after a few months of not being able to make the rent.
The Checkout Operator of the Year competition is coming up though, which gives Shop 'n' Pay one last chance to come up with the $100,000 they need to stay open; and forces Tashandra to decide once and for all between her privilege-paved life as a law student, and her life as an under-paid checkout chick.
I expected slightly more from the ATC production, after director Simon Coleman's acclaimed production of Fitz Bunny's Lust for Glory, (Young & Hungry 2010) voted one of The NZ Herald's top 5 musicals that year.
However, what the show lacked in a very simple set, and what seemed like some first-timers playing up laughs to their friends and families, was made up for with remarkably high energy and fast pace.
Rachel Callinan's repertoire of clever dialogue and easily relatable language, coupled with Julia Truscott's fine balance of show tunes crossed with almost every music genre you can imagine, is New Zealand comedy at its best.
A highlight of the show is Darryl Wrightson as the formidable Peter Frackwitt, head of the supermarket opposition. Complete with tap-dancing shoes and a sparkly jacket, he often steals the show with his delightful theme and ridiculous man-purse.
Also worth mentioning are Lane Twigden as bag boy Jah, and Crystelle L'Amie as Diane Fritata, Elizabeth's over-bearing, single mother, who both give excellent performances and stand out as ones to keep your eye on.
Checkout Chicks is a musical for people who wouldn't usually enjoy a musical, and would go down a real treat as a production for high schools.
[Note: Tusk Tusk, the other Next Big Thing show, will be reviewed tomorrow.]
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(critic uncredited) (New Zealand Herald online);