Amour Fantastique – The Musical
Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland
18/02/2010 - 21/02/2010
Composer: Patrick Geus
Lyrics and dialogue: Patrick Geus and Franziska Geus
Produced by Franziska Geus
Feel yourself transported … to PARIS, with a glittering variety of quality music pieces. Teeming with bright experienced performers, keen to launch this original musical work by Auckland based French composer Patrick Geus. This musical is a breath of fresh air – “If you love music, this is an absolute jewel!” February 18th – 21st.
Cast members performed in leading roles, including London West End theatre, such as “Les Miserables”, “Grease”, “Cats”. Director John Fausett is known from his work on Les Misérables – Fiddler on the Roof – West Side Story – Cabaret – Evita – Chess … and lots more.
Here powerful classical meets lively modern music styles, at the banks of the romantic river Seine… Enjoy the variety of drama and tongue-in-cheek scenes – altogether engaging and compelling.
Come and be drawn into the intriguing tale; meet Hector, a Parisian musician, and share his struggle between his passion for music and his love for the beautiful Aurelie; feel her anguish of having to choose between two lovers. People from all walks of life can identify with balancing the pursuit of passion!
The work is inspired by the illustrious “Symphonie Fantastique” which the French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz wrote to win the love of a woman. The story takes us from Paris to New York, from classical music through ballad, rock, Latin and more. Meet the cool “God-of-Rock-n-Roll” and the jovial French accordion player “Chopin”.
And who will win in the triangle of Love, Music, or Money? But hey, you have to come to see the show to find out! To quote from one of the songs: “We’ll take you on a journey, where no one else has gone…”
The Raye Freedman Arts Centre
adjacent to Epsom Girls Grammar School
Cnr Gillies Avenue and Silver Road
Thursday 18 February, 7:30pm – $40
Friday 19 February, 7:30pm – $40
Saturday 20 February, 7:30pm – $40
Sunday 21 February, 4:00pm – $40
Book now at www.iTicket.co.nz or Phone 09 3611000
Enjoy a sneak preview of songs on our website: http://www.amourfan.com
Opera , Musical ,
Ambitious opus needs more joie de vivre
Review by Nik Smythe 19th Feb 2010
Epsom’s Raye Freedman Arts Centre is a suitable venue for this world premier musical effort; a modestly sized auditorium with fully equipped proscenium arch stage. French Composer Patrick Geus has embarked on a highly ambitious project with this work. He arranged the musical numbers and co-wrote the lyrics and intermittent dialogue with producer Franziska Geus.
The story seeks to engage the timeless themes of passion, romance and betrayal. Hector (David Goldthorpe) is an impassioned frustrated classical music student in Paris. He meets Street musician Chopin (Moses Mackay) who introduces him to his scene, in particular Aurelie (Rebecca Wright on opening night*).
They fall in love, but that’s a problem since Aurelie is receiving favours from her rich producer lover Jean-Sebastian (Bevan Williams), a flash car and major recording deal for instance. Torn between love and ambition, Aurelie chooses Hector but struggles to cope with having to compete with his obsession with music.
Jean-Sebastian doesn’t give up so easily either. The various stages of the tumultuous triangle culminate in is ostensibly driven to a head and the idealistic resolution is a bit too easily achieved, lacking somewhat in visceral impact.
The actual script, both dialogue and lyrics, seem to be very much in the first draft stage, offering an altogether pedestrian verbal account. John Fausett’s lucid direction is wholly diagrammatic; what is happening and how the characters feel is made quite clear through the often clichéd dialogue, with little real sense of atmosphere or emotion offered up.
The music is entirely recorded, even for scenes where the characters play instruments on stage. In this respect the quality of miming is quite good, however it’s a little distracting when Hector plays Aurelie the song he wrote for her on the grand piano but the sounds that emanate are classical guitar and a bowstring section.
The wholly safe performances of the leads are more ciphers than believable characters we can care about. There is little or no palpable chemistry between Aurelie and Hector, and even less between her and Jean-Sebastian. Chopin’s role is obviously intended as comic relief, but his routine wisecracks fail to really ignite.
The most compelling turn, and ironically seeming to have more depth of character than the rest, is the self-choreographed silent ballerina ‘Musica’ (Claire Foster). Responding in dance to the music and action with graceful aplomb, her presence isn’t explained; nor does it need to be – she’s the embodiment of the spirit underlying the music.
Adroitly conceived and skilfully rendered, the music overall is eclectic to a fault and unfortunately lacks the requisite lustre in its execution. There’s no discernable reason for the chorus of gratuitous Jamaican Rasta stereotypes warning us (and Hector) ‘Don’t Fall In Love With Love’, or the kaftan-clad afro-headed gospel chorus who are required to accompany the would-be rousing anthem ‘Let’s Talk About Life’.
If such showpieces packed more punch in the rendition it would help a little more to justify their nonsensical presence. The hard rock number ‘God of Rock ’n’ Roll’ by amusing cockney stadium-rock giant Amadeus (Carl Hoggen) also promises more than it delivers, and the bicycle song is just rather silly. The more successful musical pieces are the less complicated ones, indicating a probable time constraint in the ensemble’s rehearsal time.
Whilst a few of the larger ensemble numbers are a little on the messy side, the production on the whole is quite neatly assembled. Clearly in this blueprint they’ve concentrated mainly on the music – the other elements seem more cursory; sketched in to be fleshed up later.
Trish Dennis’ perfunctory wardrobe design offers a few smiles, nothing outrageous. Presumably there were budget constraints – no production company or sponsors to be seen in the credits – given which, Director Fausett’s set and lighting design is quite well done overall; making the most of fairly limited resources.
The rear cyclorama puts the most effort into evoking the Parisian setting of most of the play. Numerous striking original Impressionist-style paintings of the famous art and romance capital of the world by Daniel Wall are accompanied by photographs of same.
With a radical rewrite of the story, dialogue and lyrics, a real choreographer and an injection of genuine European joie de vivre in the direction and performance – not to mention a rich producer – Amour Fantastique might come nearer to the works it would appear to be aspiring to, like Chess.
– – – – – –
* Alternating with Heather Warne
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Graham April 1st, 2010
What I saw
The lighting was dim. I could see an apparition with what looked like wings pointing high overhead. As the light was gradually turned up the silhouette turned out to be a stony angel. It could have been any one of the golden angels cemented forever atop the Palais Garnier or any one of the many angelic statuary found in France. A large portrait of the composer Hector Berlioz appears to be gazing intensely down on this particular statue as though communicating with it when, quite suddenly, it moved. Wow. And so, seemingly at the beheit of Berlioz this enigmatic spirit descends heaven and flies on her mysterious way.
Its not long before she spies a quarry and then remains close by him, always invisible.
He, meanwhile, appears clumsy and awkward although it soon becomes apparent that he has a deep appreciation for the music of Berlioz. And so the purpose of our white guardian, dressed in feathery textures, is revealed. She is nearby as he works studiously writing his music. She watches his dalliances unfold. She follows him around the globe, she observes his highs and is happy for him. She feels his lows and shows an angelic petulance. Twice she enthusiastically takes on human form. The first time as a backup dancer where her movements are deep and true, unlike her mortal partners whose dance steps appear sloppy and out of step. Brilliant. She is a supernatural being after all and a perfect one at that. When I spoke to the shows' director about this he replied, "Well, she is a dancer after all". Doh!
We meanwhile, are taken on a musical tour and bear witness to many different types of music; learner, classical, pop, flamenco, jazz, gospel, reggae, rock and even busking. Again brilliant. Even better is when our heroine finds herself alone and, through her, Berlioz makes a ghostly appearance. He glides behind the piano and jams his spirited heart out. Wow, wow.
I saw the show twice cos I loved it. On opening night it was a long jam, and with my heightened imagination, I appreciated every moment of it. At Saturdays' show the jam seemed to have been shortened. A talk with the shows' composer revealed critics had got to his ear and had suggested that the ethereal performance was too long!!!?
Our leading man, meanwhile, is overwhelmed by his dalliance. But his show must go on. His music is written, his orchestra and audience waits. So, with heavy heart, he readies himself for his grand appearance. Here our darlin' angel assists him when she takes on the role of a mirror while he preens himself. She gives her approval of his looks with an omnipotent smile. Then came the climax of the show when she takes on the role of rostrum where, head bowed, she passes on the proverbial baton as if Berlioz gives his eternal blessing. Wow, wow, wow. Heavy.
As I watched our protagonist conducting I couldn't help but notice how stoic he was looking. I was happy for him but at the same time sad. How is that possible?
It is made possible through brilliant writing and thats what I saw. If this is the first draft then I don't need to see the final but I will, over and over again.