[COMEDY/Musical Theatre ~ SA PREMIERE ~ VIC]
Rhino Room, Mar 15 Feb.
Every year The Fringe is jam-packed full of shows big and small vying for your attention and ticket money. Some of those shows are massive productions, with massive budgets to promote themselves or have huge backers behind them to sound the horn to the general public. So sometimes smaller shows, that are, striking, innovative, and truly rewarding can slip through the Fringe cracks to a degree.
Andrew McClelland’s The Very Model Of A Major Modern Musical began its VERY short run at Rhino Room tonight. McClelland – from Melbourne – is a seasoned and talented comedian (and kickass DJ) who has written and performed 16 different one-hour comedy shows. There has always been a bit of singing and dancing in his work, such is his love of music in all its forms. His decision to write a full, original, Gilbert & Sullivan-style musical during the 2020 lockdown may have been considered odd, even reckless by some. After all, comic operas of the 1800s may not seem a good fit for a comedy show in the age of COVID. But the works of G&S has stood the test of time, with their comedic-operas like The Mikado, Pirates Of Penzance and HMS Pinafore, still performed all over the world a hundred and fifty years later.
McClelland has taken this classic format and music that is now out of copywrite and written a contemporary Gilbert & Sullivan musical set in a Law office, with the IT department and the Paralegals becoming the main chorus’. The show ingeniously plays with all the tropes and plot twists of the original works but delivers a fresh and comedic vision. It is a real thing. There are charts and libretto for a full theatrical production for a cast of seventy and a full orchestra, but obviously that would cost millions to stage. So, in this hilarious Adelaide Fringe production, the massive cast is reduced to two people; McClelland and his amazing accompanist and collaborator Martine Wengrow – herself no stranger to the world of musical theatre as a respected and in-demand Musical Director, musician and teacher.
We, the audience, become the Arts Council who they are pitching the show for to try and secure funding for the full production. It’s a clever device and means there is quite some manoeuvring for the duo on stage to cover all the roles, which they do with deft comic timing, simple and inventive props and some funny video prompts. Wengrow is an incredible pianist, and the opening piano part grabs peoples attention. ‘Oh hello – here we go!’ Likewise, McClelland tackles the extremely demanding comic operatic vocals with a full and powerful voice. G&S shows are full of rapid fire word play, gasp for air delivery and frantic paced melody, all of which this show has, while simultaneously smashing the ‘funny’ out of the park.
Don’t be worried about not being ‘into’ Gilbert & Sullivan’s work, you really don’t need to be, it’s a crazy funny show in any case. But those who are aficionados will appreciate the care an adherence to G&S canon while being able to go on a brand new comedic journey.
It’s an absolute delight – go while you can!
Andrew McClelland – The Very Model Of A Modern Major Musical continues at Rhino Room – Upstairs at Rhino Room from 6pm until Fri 18 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.