Review by Michelle Sutton
The Night at the Barracks series at North Head, Manly is finally going ahead after a long postponement due to the covid crisis of last year. Set on the grounds of Manly Barracks on the top of the hill at North Head Scenic Drive, Manly it is a picturesque and grand location for a series of concerts. Food trucks and bars abound and the atmosphere is that of a festival with people visibly delighted to finally experience the show. As the Barracks are a 20–30-minute walk from Manly CBD, I opted to pay an extra $5 for a return journey on the shuttle bus which only added to the excitement and anticipation of the event. David Hobson and Lucy Durack are both two accomplished professionals and performers who brought impressive vocals, acting and charisma to the stage. Hobson and Durack were accompanied by a 33-piece orchestra, conducted by the incredible Nicholas Buc. The orchestra was fantastic, moving seamlessly through genres of opera, theatre and contemporary pop music. David Hobson was extremely animated, cracking jokes, telling stories, getting orchestra conductor Nicholas Buc involved in the skits between songs, truly creating a performance and unique experience for the audience. He sang classic theatre songs including I Am A Pirate King from Pirates of Penzance and The Impossible Dream (The Quest) from Man of La Mancha. Hobson also showed off his skills on the acoustic guitar, accompanying himself on a few songs. Hobson proved himself to be a master of the stage, improvising, ad-libbing and enthralling the audience by keeping them guessing the entire way through the show. Durack performed a mix of classic musical theatre repertoire as well as some older pop songs and contemporary songs including Adele’s version of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love and Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me. Lucy Durack best known for playing Glinda The Good Witch in the original Australian cast of Wicked performed Popular, with a green lighting scheme and shares that she has performed the song on stage over 1300 times and spent at least 87 hours of her life singing the tune. Durack has a distinctive energy and demeanour on stage, brimming with gentleness, warmth and joy no matter what song or style she is singing. Hobson and Durack came together to perform some duets, a delightfully fun take on Love Is An Open Door from Frozen and a beautiful rendition of The Prayer. When it is time to close the show Hobson says they better go so they "don’t disturb the bandicoots” that are native to the area before encouraging an audience sing-along to Edelweiss from The Sound of Music and finishing with Andrea Bocelli's It’s Time To Say Goodbye. Durack’s upper register is stunning as she sings the opera classic and showcases her versatility and different side to her voice. Night at the Barracks is a wonderful initiative, and a great way to encourage people to get outdoors and experience music in a beautiful and unique setting. The outdoors location does come with its challenges, which the crew handles the best they can including providing many umbrellas on stage to shield the eyes of the orchestra while they played and combatting the very loud wind that could be heard hitting the big screens and banners. David Hobson and Lucy Durack are both absolute stars who know how to sell a song and please a crowd, both of their talents and charm were only magnified by their interactions together. Overall, Night at the Barracks is an incredibly enjoyable experience and well worth the wait.