Tap Your Troubles Away
Jerry Herman is one of the most iconic names in musical theatre. The man behind such hits as Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, his music has that everlasting quality prevalent in so many of the golden age shows which The Production Company brings to the fore in Jerry’s Girls – with the help of an incredibly talented cast and new script!
Jerry’s Girls is a revue taking the audience on a journey through the best, show-stopping songs from his songbook. And to perform these iconic numbers, The Production Company has secured eleven of Australia’s best, show-stopping performers in a cast where Nancye Hayes, Rhonda Burchmore and Silvie Paladino are just a handful of the headline names.
The most crucial component of this show is sensational casting. It isn’t just about choosing eleven leading ladies. It is about choosing eleven leading ladies who excel in different realms of musical theatre. And this cast has them all. From comedy queens Virginia Gay, Deborah Krizak and Josie Lane to masters of the diva moment Silvie Paladino, Natalie O’Donnell and Rhonda Burchmore. Golden age musical performer Nancye Hayes and Kander & Ebb embodiment Chelsea Gibb to the sexy and sultry Kirby Burgess, Claire Lyon and Christie Whelan-Browne. Each of these performers have found their niche in the Jerry Herman catalogue and taken that opportunity to show-off the full range of their talent blowing away the audience.
It is difficult to choose highlights in this show because each performer shines in their solo moments. Kirby Burgess is given the opportunity to display her amazing dancing talent in a simple staging of ‘Showtune’. Deborah Krizak has the audience in stitches in the stripper song ‘Take It All Off’ which should be retitled ‘Put It Back On’. Chelsea Gibb brings a big of Chicago to ‘La Cage Aux Folles’. And Virginia Gay & Rhonda Burchmore play a fantastically antagonistic pair of best friends in ‘Bosom Buddies’. But it is in the ensemble numbers that this show reaches its peak, especially at the end of Act One with a classic version of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ led by Nancye Hayes and soon joined by the entire cast in stunning red dresses.
Most revivals of Jerry’s Girls occur in a cabaret setting with performers giving small insights into the life of Jerry Herman in between each number. And that is where this production differs dramatically. Engaging the full comedic range of the cast, director Dean Bryant has taken the moments in between numbers to provide an insight into the rehearsal process seamlessly moving between the rehearsal room and the fully-staged numbers. This new element adds a great deal of hilarity to the show as each actor is given the opportunity to play themselves. This also allows the leading ladies to bring their own style to the Jerry Herman numbers as the songs unfold organically from the rehearsal action while also lending to lots of entertaining comedic moments poking fun at each performer (so make sure your knowledge of these performers and their history is up to scratch or you might miss the jokes!).
These stunning performances are accompanied by the equally stunning Orchestra Victoria band bringing the razzle dazzle back to these iconic numbers with a contemporary twist under the direction of Matthew Frank. And a special mention must go to Owen Phillips for designing some incredibly quick costume changes that have to work in the context of a rehearsal room and then a full-blown production number – which is no easy feat, but executed with great flair!
It is no secret that Jeanne Pratt has wanted to change the name from Jerry’s Girls to Jeanne’s Girls. And when you see these performers take to the stage and blow away the audience, you can certainly understand why!
Jerry’s Girls is now playing at the Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne until December 6. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.artscentremelbourne.com.au