Festival Theatre Stage, Sat Jun 14
Since his successful opera and Hollywood career in the 1950s, Mario Lanza has been credited as a significant influence on famous tenors. His renowned movies whilst in his turbulent years with MGM – The Toast Of New Orleans, The Great Caruso and Because You’re Mine – featured memorable songs still celebrated today.
Blake Bowden & Phil Scott have conceived a beautiful, entertaining celebration of the life of Mario Lanza. Directed by Eamon Flack and written by Phil Scott, the show provides flashes of dialogue from pivotal moments in Lanza’s life, from his first singing lessons up until his death at age 38. Lanza’s famous hits were allowed to shine, but the dialogue between Bowden as Lanza and Scott – who plays a vast array of characters in Lanza’s life – generally provided an important context to these songs. Some of the content may benefit from being stripped back though as it seemed there were too many elements jammed in, making it confusing at times. More depth could be found in Lanza’s character if there wasn’t quite so much going on.
The outstanding element to this show is Bowden’s voice. WOW! It was incredibly emotive with beautiful tone, great strength and an absolute pleasure to listen to. This was particularly evident in the wave of goose bumps and shivers that seems to flow though the audience when Bowden began to sing Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep) from Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot.
Scott is an incredibly skilled musician and is kept very busy in this show playing the various characters in Lanza’s life with such vitality as well as supporting Bowden on keys, which sounded brilliant. Mario by Blake Bowden & Phil Scott fits well with the theme of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival ‘Not Your Usual Suspects’ with its unique blend of opera and cabaret.
by Bobby Goudie
Blake Bowden & Phil Scott performs Mario at Festival Theatre Stage, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Sun Jun 15.