Thu 20 Oct, 2023.
Bronwen James gives her impeccable singing voice full flight in this fabulously entertaining show. The songs are a mix of clever parodies and originals, selected and written to chronicle the lives of some famous red-heads, as well as some lesser-known ones. Yet all have fascinating stories to tell. Interwoven into these vibrant strands are the threads of Bronwen’s own life-story, and these condensed ‘Bronologues’ are both touching and funny.
Starting by belting out ‘Never Enough’ from ‘The Greatest Showman,’ Bronwen boldly states her theme – that there is never enough red. Yes, she’s out to paint not just the whole town but the whole planet red. She points out how many red-headed child stars abound as outliers, the ones who don’t conform and forge their own way. “Tomorrow” from the musical ‘Annie’ is just one example. Politicians Pauline Hanson and Julia Gillard get their chance to speak out, and sing about what they’re really thinking. That is, the things they’ve always wanted to say but couldn’t. Bronwen’s intrepid showmanship and witty lines allow her to satirize them with a smile.
Several figures who might otherwise be lost to history are brought before us to celebrate their contribution to our human progress, however slow and unsteady it may be. A red-headed resistance fighter in World War II is remembered for her courage; a factory worker in appalling conditions who was one of the first young women to lead a strike in the nineteenth century. As in so many industrial processes, the chemicals used in making ‘Redheads’ matches were toxic for the workers, and the fight for decent pay and rights was bitter and prolonged. Lucille Ball brings a sample of her signature clowning, while reminding us just how strong-willed such red-heads had to be, to carve out a space for themselves.
Bronwen also gives a salute to several local red-headed personalities, who each shone their unique talent far and wide into many fields and over many years. A beautiful rendition of Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’ has the audience breathlessly quiet, and every member of the full house feeling like it was sung just to them and just for them. The complete connection that is live theatre is achieved with her total honesty and vulnerability. She is willing to incorporate her self-searching journey of exploration into how she got here, and how she’ll go on glowing red as we all age. To achieve this, she reaches down to her roots, to discover how deep the red lies.
She shares with us her personal mantra that has helped through times of loss and grief, keeping her spirit light and resilient This potent, positive message is propelled by her engaging commitment to the value of art, in putting together this excellent work. A cheeky version of Cole Porter’s ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ makes it clear how dedicated she is to keeping the red bright, like the burning flame, a beacon of hope and joy in a world filled with rapid change and constant challenges.
Presented by: Bronwen James
Reds continues at various times at Star Theatres until Friday 27th October. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.