[WORLD PREMIERE ~ AUS ~ IF YOU LOVE… MUSIC THAT MOVES YOU]
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, Mon 10 Jun.
Internationally acclaimed actor and singer Philip Quast knows how to put on a show. Accompanying on piano is Anne-Maree McDonald, formerly from Australian Opera, and currently working with Quast at NIDA. The pair works seamlessly together to present a warm, entertaining, amusing and varied show.
Quast enters the stage whistling and singing The Gypsy Rover, immersed in sentimentality as he returns to the scene of his earliest days as an actor at the Adelaide Playhouse; recalling fellow cast members and his role playing a naked Adam in the Mystery Plays Of Wakefield. He seems a little uncertain at first, as if he worries he is taking too big a big risk presenting a show where he is the subject, but soon the memories of a career spanning theatre, film, musicals and children’s TV begin to flow freely.
His anecdotes allow Quast to draw his audience into an easy, almost gossipy, insight into the behind scenes life of the working performer. And the audience love it – stories about actor gags, emails from fans, suddenly seeming to remember a comment from Stephen Sondheim or Barry Humphries, or what it was like to work alongside people like a young Trevor Nunn, Emma Thompson or Bryn Terfel. Shameless name-dropping he admits, but only a fraction of the names he could legitimately mention.
And there are surprises! Most people in the audience would have expected some mention of Playschool, given that it was a part of his life for 17 years. But few would have expected him to come down into the audience to get everyone up dancing to the Wiggerly Woo!
But it is Quast’s singing that the audience has primarily come to hear, and he is in very fine voice. At times laconic and cheeky, next conveying angst, candour or bemusement it is clear that Quast doesn’t just sing the notes, he inhabits his characters and his interpretations are subtle, emotive, and show the lightness of his touch. His casual hand movements or the way he lounges in a chair all tell us that he is a master of his trade. His baritone voice may have deepened over the years but for the audience this means he can hit some lovely deep mellow tones in the manner of Paul Robeson. We are treated to a generous range of songs from his career, including a lively version of The King’s New Clothes.
Quast has clearly conquered many famous roles in musical theatre over the years – he has Three Olivier Awards to prove it – and after a show-stopping rendition of Javert’s song from Les Misérables the audience leap to their feet for a well deserved standing ovation.
This show was put together specifically for this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Quast has said that he is retiring from singing in musicals, but his voice and abilities are far too good to be hidden away. The many jokes he makes about being too old and incapable seem like just another great role he is playing. This show deserves to have more than one solitary performance. Long may the show go on….and on.
Image courtesy of Kate Williams