FLAMBOYANT DREAMS OF STARDOM GET THE SOLO SPACE THEY NEED
The ImpoSTAR: Who Does He Think He Is?
Written by Jason Chasland with Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Starring Jason Chasland
at Circa One, Wellington
From 19 Oct 2013 to 9 Nov 2013
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 22 Oct 2013
originally published in The Dominion Post
Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and many others are not names you would normally associate with a cluttered attic in a farmhouse in the Wairarapa where The ImpoSTAR takes place.
But all these divas and pop stars fit neatly into the unglamorous setting if you are a lonely, bullied, rugby-playing teenager with a powerful voice who finds a more exciting existence in faraway Hollywood and Broadway which have been seen, heard, imagined and imitated from numerous LPs, TV shows, movies and videos.
The ImpoSTAR is Jason Chasland's solo autobiographical musical revue which he performs with all the necessary confidence and flamboyance of his idols of whom he gives deft impressions that slide, too infrequently, into comic caricatures rather than accurate impersonations.
Between breaks in the songs we get to know something of his family and his career from his first childhood appearance on stage, to a sixteen year-old playing Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady, to his coming out of the closet, and to a shot at stardom in London.
When he performed the show at Bats last year the production was cramped and a bit muddled. His presence in such a small space was overpowering and his amplified voice very loud. There was a lot of stage smoke.
The current version has been cleverly expanded to fill the much larger space and the autobiographical interludes have been made more personal and coherent. The costumes, wigs, videos, slides, costumes and setting are far more professional but without losing the ordinariness of the background – witness the numerous everyday objects mingled with more exotic objects suspended behind the attic and lit to make them look glamorous. There's still a lot of smoke.
It's a pity there isn't enough material here for a Forbidden Broadway-type revue. Jason Chasland would fit very neatly into one with his comical version of Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady in which he exaggerates the purity of her vowels. But he coarsens his go at Barbra Streisand with a distracting false nose. It's the voice that matters and that he has in spades.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.
See also reviews by:
Laurie Atkinson (The Dominion Post);