Review by Tatum Stafford
Each year at the Perth Fringe Festival, there are a handful of brand-new original musicals to see; some jukebox, some with new music, some based on people or events, some completely original storylines.
Bradbury The Musical, which opened at The Chalet on Friday night, centres around iconic Aussie Olympic icon Steven Bradbury, who claimed Australia’s first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2002.
The three men behind this original musical, from the band George Glass, have an ambitious task on their hands – turn this uniquely Australian underdog story into a compelling, one-hour musical.
Through a combination of well-known ‘skaters’ from pop culture (Tonya Harding and Tony Hawk), a setlist of engaging original music, and a ton of seemingly makeshift props, Bradbury The Musical premiered, and felt a tad underbaked.
Big props should be given for the group’s fantastic musicianship and the catchy hooks that permeate throughout the show. The sound balance was a little off in the venue (which is essentially a lecture theatre at the WA Art Gallery), so some lyrics were unfortunately drowned out. But judging by the audience’s reaction, the music was a definite highlight of the piece.
The show started strong with the introduction of Steven (literally, without giving anything away), and transitioned into the ‘big day’ at the 2002 Olympics, where he would go on to win gold after his competitors fall around him. I can’t say I expected to see Tonya Harding and Tony Hawk appear in a musical about Steven Bradbury, but once they bounded onto the stage it clearly had a good pay-off, judging by the audience’s laughter.
The middle of the show took quite a steep turn downhill for me, as the story got a little too low-brow and the jokes became bluer and bluer. The venue also didn’t do the troupe many favours, as from the front row the wings next to the stage were quite visible, so costume changes were practically out in the open, and the rustling of props was very audible. There also weren’t too many chances for the audience to give them applause, as many songs barrelled straight into scenes, so there were a few awkward silences as sets and costumes were shuffled around in the dark.
There were a few really funny moments, great songs, and a clear sense of comradery amongst the performers which was fun to watch. I believe with a bit of tightening, a few more performances, and perhaps a new venue (it’s heading to Adelaide Fringe, so I’m eager to see how it progresses), the show will be a real hit.