Festival Theatre, Mon 9 Jun
A murder has been committed, and Inspector Woodley has been summoned to solve this horrific crime.
Written by Nathaniel Stookey with test by Lemony Snicket, comedian and actor Frank Woodley adds his own essence to this baffling whodunit as he interrogates the entire orchestra in his search for answers.
Beginning with the easily recognisable March Of The Toreadors from Bizet’s Carmen, a piece that many excited young viewers (somewhat sadly) recognise from the app game Five Nights At Freddy’s, Woodley opens the show, hilariously comparing the Festival Theatre balcony boxes to the Star Wars Imperial Senate. How amusing to see the reactions of the normally stoic musicians as Woodley walks through the orchestra touching heads, flicking pages and generally messing with things throughout the woodwind, brass, strings and percussion sections.
The interrogation begins when the 2nd Violins were asked where they were when the murder occurred.
“We were busy all night, performing the waltz,” they replied, releasing party poppers into the air, and then playing their piece of music.
The Cellos and Basses sighed, “We were providing the accompaniment… 1-2-3. It’s boring but steady work!”
Woodley then moves to the Violas who whine, “Everybody forgets about us. We play the notes and chords that nobody cares about. We spent the night feeling sorry for ourselves.” This was just one of Woodley’s many animated and improv moments in the show, who then gets right into the face of the Concert Master (1st Violinist) and declares that being the best violinist and the biggest show-off in the orchestra that ‘he’ must have killed the Composer.
“I’m the star of the star Violins. The Sun. The Supernova. Why would I murder the Composer when he gives me such beautiful music to play?” he retorts, before leading the strings into a beautifully-played waltz, joyously animated by Woodley’s clumsy ribbon dance, before he turns his attention to the Woodwinds, specifically the Flutes.
“We were doing bird imitations. We’re too high-pitched and wimpy to commit murder!”
And what of the Reed instruments? The Clarinets, known for their sneakiness, accused the Bassoons and Oboes, while the Trumpets in the Brass section declared their incredible importance when I came to leading parades, presenting kings and leading men into war. The French Horns, however, did not understand the question and played among themselves.
“What say of you, Trombones?” Woodley asks.
“We were out swinging and dancing at the Club all night with the French Horns – everyone dances to our rhythms!”
“We were beat!” declared the percussion instruments. “We were far too exhausted to commit murder.”
The Tuba declared himself to be a confirmed bachelor and had stayed at home all night playing cards with his landlady, the Harp so, after 40 years as a detective, Inspector Woodley was stumped. Baffled even. But a conclusion was arrived and the murderer was found as Woodley reminded us all that orchestral composing is a dangerous profession…Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Chopin, Purcell… all of them, dead!
How wonderful to see children delighted by the euphonic sounds of the individual and collective instruments while laughing along to the fun antics of Frank Woodley, whose rapport with the audience comes from more than two decades of performing. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Brett Kelly were fantastic and must have loved all of the silliness that is normally so far from their usual gig, and how fantastic to have a show that is funny and entertaining for kids and adults while introducing them to The ASO and orchestral music – some for the very first time.
A brilliant show on so many levels, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – complete with audience-assisted paper bag explosions – was a fun way to finish of such a fun afternoon with the orchestra. Well done to all. Come back sometime very soon. I want to see that again!
Cover image courtesy of Garth Oriander
Cartoon illustration by Carson Ellis
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