Songs for Nobodies
Directed by Ross Gumbley
19th August 2017
Prepare yourself for an adjective heavy review! Showing restraint with words and enthusiasm will be impossible. Johanna Murray-Smith’s Songs for Nobodies starring Ali Harper leaves an impression on the soul. It is not challenging, in your face, or fast-paced, but peaceful, delightful, intimate, nurturing, funny, genuine, delicate, melancholy, and real. It’s an experience that must be felt to understand, and although we sat as a captive audience I suggest each and every one of us felt that we had Ali Harper's undivided attention. Her gentle eyes reached inside me and said ‘relax’, I trusted her as if she’d held my hand and taken me on a remarkable journey through the lives of five remarkable, as well as five unremarkable, women.
I am truly almost lost for words that could do justice to such an experience. In arts of subtlety, the crew behind this production are clearly experts. Disguised behind plain screens, a trio of musicians led by talented musical director Richard Marrett, supported Ali Harper’s incredible vocals which perfectly evoked the character she represented. Clever but understated lighting seemed to imbue the souls of past legends into Ali’s performance. Embodying such a vast range of characters Ali’s accents built the individuality of every persona and was (what’s a word with more impact than ‘impressive’) awe-inspiring.
I am so full of admiration for this woman’s performance I could actually weep, as it was, my fellow theatre-goer did wipe away a few tears of respect and admiration. The moment Ali Harper strolled on stage in a brown dress and wig and gently looked the audience in the eye was magnetic, maybe she hypnotised us... How such a drab costume and nothing more than a chair on the stage could be transcended and given so much life is a mystery.
This performance ticked all the boxes, with music, lighting, sound, and acting, so beautifully and seamlessly polished as to produce a life of its own. Such a stunning performance here in Palmerston North is a treat of immeasurable proportions. Hats off to Centrepoint for securing such a high quality performance that would be received anywhere in the world (surely) with great delight.
I’m not usually a second time viewer of anything – books, movies, shows, but I can feel Ali Harper calling me back to this unique show. Songs for Nobodies is a show that nobody should miss. It’s a full-bodied, almost spiritual experience. Thank you, Ali Harper and crew, I am full of admiration.
The Full Monty
Abbey Musical Theatre
Director Steve Jenkins
13th August 2017
The Full Monty, a full-bodied version, oh boy! The cast of Abbey Musical Theatre’s latest offering really let it all hang out as they seek to recreate the theatre version of this award winning show. More than simply gratuitous nudity though, these down on their luck, blue collar workers expose more than just a bit of flesh. As an audience we’re there for the story – isn’t that how it goes (wink, wink)...
It’s true to say that you will see the ‘full moon’ maybe sooner than expected but let me assure you that there is a storyline – one you may know of if you’ve seen the original movie or another version of the theatre show.
An industrial themed set nicely evoked the factory workers Sheffield location and sat comfortably on the stage. Gritty, grey and full of action the stage was brought to life by a talented cast complete with some tragic fashion, horrible hairdos and cringe-worthy Yorkshire accents. It all works nicely to deliver a punchy and realistic story-line with some great acting and clever, well delivered comedy.
Sam Gordon and Nick Ross bounced off each other with vigour as best mates Jerry and Dave, displaying masculine bravado as well as sharing some more tender moments. Nick Ross’s portrayal of big softie, slightly stupid, Dave was exceptional and his comedic timing always expertly delivered. Dave’s relationship with wife Georgie, was honest and tenderly played out. Katie Monaghan’s role as Georgie a brash but lovable outspoken woman brought a high energy, very enjoyable character to life. Playing the son Nathan torn between his mum Pam (Sarah Donnelly) and Dad- Jerry’s- financial and custody dispute, Isaac Gregory performed an excellent role. He was both believable and endearing, and a salve to soften the edges of some tough issues. Sarah Donnelly’s portrayal of the protective parent, ex-wife role was well delivered and carefully balanced. Jessie Feyen (as Vicki) brought some real sparkle to the scene and was a heartily enjoyable character to watch along with her husband Harold (Ben Pryor). The cast really worked so well together that it is hard to separate them from the story; they performed seamlessly and cohesively, pulling together a great show.
Insecurities, financial hardship, body issues, and stripping delivered in a high energy, high comedy format made this version of ‘The Full Monty’ really enjoyable show to watch. Director Steve Jenkins produced a risqué comedy that had the audience laughing out loud. It was a great way to spend a cold evening, and the nudity was...revealing.
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