Arts Theatre, Thu 19 Nov.
If you jumped backwards in a time machine to before the internet, before TV, even before radio, but not too much further, you just might land in a music hall. A place of joking and magic, singing and dancing, drama, well melodrama to be precise, comedy and tragedy, where the audience are encouraged to heckle the bad guys and cheer for the good. Judging by the crowd’s reaction to Only An Orphan Girl – it was performed to a tee and while there were some great lines from the stage, some of the heckling lines were almost certainly audience plants (which didn’t in any way diminish the laughter they evoked).
The show is several acts of a melodrama, interspersed with sing-alongs, comedy, a magic show and even an audience sing-off. In the first sing-along there is a great movement device used, this encouragement to move helps remove the psychological barriers for involvement and participation. The audience joined in readily, boos and hisses greeting the entry and exit of the cads, cheering and clapping for the heroes – and it was a lot of fun. Of course much of the acting was simply over the top, the characters more caricature than believable – but that’s the deal and anyway, what’s a good death if you can’t take five minutes staging it? And the deal pays off – its great fun and a great communal gathering to join together in hooting and jeering!
The musical sound track to the show is provided by Sandi McMenamin on piano and Rowan Dennis on percussion who do a great job throughout, finding the theme music for the important characters, playing to the sing-alongs and even providing some instrumental relief as appropriate (and showing some great chops in so doing).
The set was clear and functional, lighting and technical were well organised and delivered, always providing what was needed and the costumes were clear, true to period and helped the characters be larger than life.
All up Only An Orphan Girl provided a couple of hours of great entertainment. The oldies in particular were right there, it was nostalgic, but it was fun. But there was also a fair smattering of young-uns in the audience too and plenty of smiles on their faces. It wasn’t just something to watch and enjoy, it was very much participatory fun. While we might wax on about the great narration and MCing by Joshua Coldwell, our lovely Heroine (Sophia Bubner) and Hero (Robert Bell) or the Cad (Barry Hill) or eventually Reforming Cad (Penelope Hamilton-Smith); the whole of the cast did a great job, the staging was just what was required and the director Pam O’Grady can take a bow for delivering a some great nostalgia to a receptive audience, both old and young.
Only An Orphan Girl continues at Arts Theatre at various time until Sat 28 Nov.
Book at TryBooking.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.