A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS
The Great Hall, The Arts Centre, Christchurch
22/01/2018 - 27/01/2018
For three years, you, our audience, have asked for his return and finally, schedules and timings have aligned. With Thanks to Strut ‘n Fret we are thrilled to welcome back Le Gateau Chocolat and introduce you to the powerhouse that is Johnny Woo!
Hilarious hijinks and shady shenanigans abound as they ‘Les Misérmassacre’ all the musicals you know and love. Jonny Woo and Le Gateau Chocolat will drag through the back catalogue of fabulous musicals for a raucous night of ballsy ballads, delightful duets and slaughtered show tunes. From Gypsy to Grease, Annie to Lion King – no show is safe!
A Night At The Musicals is a tortured love letter to the glorious genre of musical theatre. High glam-ah, intense assholism, divine costumes and raggedy choreography are guaranteed in a night you’ll never forget!
“Think R-rated Glee meets drag meets cabaret… a sensational display of glitzy self-expression with A-class wit.” In Daily
“There is something very special about cabaret. It is raw, it is immediate, and if it’s done well you are pulled into a world that knows no bounds. Le Gateau Chocolat creates such a world.” Artshub
The Great Hall at the Arts Centre
18 – 27 January 2018
Theatre , Musical ,
1 hr 5 mins
Vocally adept if otherwise vapid
Review by Tony Ryan 23rd Jan 2018
Now in day five of Christchurch’s World Buskers Festival, and having been to superb shows every night (sometimes two), tonight doesn’t seem to be quite my night at the festival. Coming from a slightly flat stand-up act to A Night at the Musicals thirty minutes later, my expectations are high and my anticipation eager. But, for me, this show also fails to hit home.
I need to say from the outset that, after taking a while to warm up, tonight’s capacity audience enjoys A Night at the Musicals immensely, and the loudly enthusiastic response during the show’s final twenty-or-so minutes and especially at the end, indicates a very well-satisfied house.
So, what’s my problem? It seems to me that A Night at the Musicals relies on two main ingredients for its effect. Firstly, the fact of its being a drag act with all the perceived absurdities and anomalies that this generates, is not, in itself, all that funny. Maybe it used to be but such acts, both on stage and on screen, are not uncommon (in global terms) and these days they need more genuinely comic material, as this one does, to put them among the best of the genre. The show is well-travelled and originates from London, where one can see such acts on a daily basis should one care to; as one can in Auckland too. But I confess to finding A Night at the Musicals little more than mildly amusing. OK, I laugh out loud here and there, but I don’t share the (sometimes isolated) hysterical moments of delight that other members of the audience clearly do.
The other factor that A Night at the Musicals relies on is ‘impact’. Of course, ALL shows aim for impact of some sort, be it comic, tragic, musical, skilful or whatever. But this one relies primarily on the impact of the relentlessly over-loud wall of amplified sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love my music loud, but as a very (and I mean VERY) regular theatre, musical and concert-goer both here and abroad, I find the impact of genuine skill, talent and creativity far more effective than being hit around the ears with a subwoofer.
I doubt that I am the only member of the audience who misses lyrics, jokes and punchlines because the sound is so overbearingly saturated. Too often I get the impression that the volume is a substitute for the lack of anything else that can make an impact.
The two performers profess to love musicals, and say their ‘deconstruction’ of some of their favourites is an acknowledgement of inherent absurdities in the genre, e.g. the overblown operatic nature of Les Mis. Le Gateau Chocolat’s remarkable vocal diversity is certainly far more suited to such deconstructions than it would be to a serious staging of any of the chosen musicals, but Jonny Woo demonstrates a genuinely accomplished vocal quality and technique that sometimes impresses for its musical attributes more than any comic intent. Woo’s lip-sync skill in two songs (from Les Mis and Cabaret) is also exceptionally adept.
Although the pre-show piped music includes extracts from A Chorus Line, Chicago, and other promising appetisers, the act’s choice of musicals, apart from Cabaret, tends towards what I call ‘pop’ musicals, especially those with an element of glitz that give them scope for bolstering the drag nature of the show. So when it comes to audience suggestions in the ‘jukebox’ segment at the end, loud calls for The Sound of Music or Guys ’n’ Dolls are ignored in favour of The Lion King and Superstar, but the grand finale of three songs from Grease certainly brings the crowd response to fever pitch, even if the obligatory audience participation ranges from reluctant compliance to enthusiastic engagement.
If my reservations, regarding the thinness of any really creative material in A Night at the Musicals, are a little negative, I’m clearly at odds with the vast majority of tonight’s audience, and anyone with a bent for entertaining and harmless, if somewhat vapid, fun is sure to enjoy this show tremendously.
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