TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland
15/03/2017 - 25/03/2017
AN ORIGINAL KIWI MUSICAL, BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
It’s been years since the high school pals ‘The Threeway’ have caught up with each other, so a reunion camping trip seems like a great idea. But after a couple of gate crashers and one car crash, their weekend away turns into life on the run.
Prepare to be schlunted.
This dark comedy contains some rude bits and words.
TAPAC, 15th-25th March,
Tickets from http://www.tapac.org.nz/events-schlunted-181
Sinead Fitzgerald – Fi
Sally Brady – Hailee
Hadley R. Taylor – Chris
Bernie Voice – Wally
Jocelyn Scott – Maddy
Fin McLaughlan – Jackson
Brady Peeti – Donny
Lighting Design – Dale Henderson
Sound Design – Sam Mence
Stage Management – Amber Molloy
Theatre , Musical , Comedy ,
Much to admire; could shine even brighter
Review by Leigh Sykes 16th Mar 2017
The original production of Schlunted was written, rehearsed and produced in 100 days, a feat which led to a successful first season of a musical that revels in its Kiwi features. Now Schlunted is back for another run.
We are told “It’s been years since high school pals ‘The Threeway’ have caught up with each other, so a reunion camping trip seems like a great idea. But after a couple of gatecrashers and one car crash, their weekend away turns into life on the run.”
The narrative plays with some well-worn tropes but takes them in fresh directions. We first meet Hailee, played with great charm by Sally Brady, celebrating the gaining of her degree and assuming that a great job is now a formality. Meanwhile Chris, the funny and engaging Hadley R Taylor, has also completed his studies and is about to take his first steps into the post-University world. It’s an intriguing place to start a musical, and the smart, funny lyrics generate plenty of laughs from the audience and give us a very good idea of the style in which this story will be told.
Persuaded to go on a camping trip by their long-neglected friend Fi, played with a tough and feisty exterior by Sinead Fitzgerald, the three set off along with Hailee’s boyfriend Wally, played with assurance and some deft comic touches by Bernie Voice. Soon after setting off, they find Hailee’s sister Maddy, a sweet Jocelyn Scott, has stowed away and the scene is set for the story to take the first of many twists and turns.
A shocking meeting with Jackson, a young traveller played with immense appeal by Fin McLachlan, sends the story in a potentially disastrous direction, and everything is now in place for this unusual tale to unravel.
There are songs a-plenty as the action jogs along at a jaunty pace, moving the narrative quickly and inventively forward. The musical responses to the potentially grave situation are upbeat in tone, and the cast’s actions follow suit. It does mean that the potential seriousness of the situation the characters find themselves in is never really explored, but this seems to be a result of the musical and stylistic landscape of the show.
As the story goes on, all of the characters reveal themselves in song, and although some songs seem less vital than others, it is no hardship to hear this talented cast sing. Their voices are uniformly great, with Jocelyn Scott’s solo numbers standing out for their power and precision. All cast members sing powerfully and engagingly alone, and when they sing together – such as the charming and poignant duets between Scott and McLachlan – it is delightful.
Just as we think we have the measure of the story and the characters, Donald, played with sass and sensational vocals by Brady Peeti, bursts onto the scene.
Now that the situation has changed, the second half of the show unfurls in some unexpected ways. With the focus now on so many different character groups, the action slows down considerably. This is not helped by the sheer number of songs. They do give every cast member the chance to shine – Peeti takes that chance gleefully in some wonderfully barn-storming performances – but they don’t move the story or the characterisation forward sufficiently to feel absolutely necessary, and so the story is stretched out to the point where I find I am aware of how long the show is, which isn’t the case in the first half.
The dialogue and lyrics are often very funny, poking fun at a variety of targets, and the music displays clever development and repetition of themes and motifs throughout the show. There is certainly much to admire here, from the uniformly engaging performances to the inventive staging, and I enjoy the performance a great deal. If some of the songs that are not absolutely necessary to the plot or the characters were trimmed, this show would shine even brighter.
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