Review By Lia Cocks
When Paulini and Timomatic were announced as the headline acts for Disco Wonderland: Dancing ‘Til Dawn, I knew it was going to be one of Adelaide Fringe’s biggest shows in 2021.
The show’s creators, boutique producers Release Creative, along with Andrew Kay, have reimagined their original orchestral version of this show [which debuted at the Festival Theatre with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 2018] into a bursting party celebrating the world’s most infamous, and most short-lived, discotheque, Studio 54.
A hypnotic voice-over takes us back to when the Vietnam war is over, and New York is a hub of sex, drugs and rock and roll. We go behind the velvet ropes and into the seedy world of the 70s, where atmosphere, grit and disco take over.
Joining Paulini and Timomatic on stage are South Australia’s crème of talent; Philippa Lynas [who has just returned from New York after touring with Cirque du Soleilas featured vocalist], quadruple threat Mark Stefanoff [Kinky Boots, Hairspray, The Voice] and the sultry and stylised Amelia Sanzo.
Lynas opens the show with the incomparable ‘I Will Survive’.
Her vocal prowess, gilded tones and ease of hitting those big notes make her the ideal partner to Paulini.
The charismatic Timomatic enters as the tune mashes into ‘Fantasy’, where he and Lynas synchronize to perfection.
Enter Paulini, and we have a resounding three-part harmony that sets the bar high for the party we are about to witness.
Mark Stefanoff, with his electric vocal ability, enters with a key change and now we are absolute sure we are in for a ride tonight!
The diverse but precise musical selections took us on a journey of memories [for some!], glitz [so many sparkles!], glamour and the spirit of the 70s dancefloor.
Paulini lived up to her reputation – her vocal acrobatics and incredible riffs around tunes ‘If You Could Read My Mind’, ‘Enough is Enough’ and my absolute favourite ‘MacArthur Park’, give the originals a run for their money! Smooth, soulful and mesmerising.
Timomatic proves he can hit those high notes, but punch out a power ballad, then follow it up with a Michael Jackson dance medley. The MJ number had the most audience involvement as Timomatic broke the fourth wall asking the crowd ‘Is it hot in here?’ To which he was met with raucous applause!
Stefanoff’s shining solo, singing ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ while spinning on an aerial hoop was not only a feat of gravity, but one of working through technical mishaps. Clearly the consummate professional, he did not skip a beat as he spun and sung metres in the air, then the crowd cheered in absolute awe as he was handed a mic to finish his song on the ground.
He is an incredible vocalist, dancer and performer and really charmed the audience from start to finish.
For me, the piece that held the show and one that was the common thread and the real storyteller, was dancer Amelia Sanzo.
Joining the cast in a role that was created specifically for her by choreographer Brendan Yeates [Hamilton, West Side Story, Matilda], Sanzo weaves and struts about the stage with a technical ingenuity that is beyond her years.
Clearly a talented dancer, she held her own with her classy but sexy extensions, cheeky glances and effortless pirouettes. She is hypnotic, and compelling. A true star in the making.
Her duet with Timomatic while Lynas was singing ‘Love to Love you, Baby’, was captivatingly choreographed, well-rehearsed and thrilling to watch.
Every audience member felt a little bit naughty – like we’d just been voyeurs of a private moment between a couple. Exactly what the director wanted I expect!
Kudos to the stylish band Er@ser Description, who kept the rhythm and vibe of the show in check .
Peter Rubie’s lighting design was enigmatic, mysterious and mesmerising.
An exhilarating cast, an electrifying band and an dynamic show that will take to you back to the spirit of 70s. Trust me, you won’t want to leave!
On until March 21, don’t miss out!