By Casey Bohan
The Mega-Church of DreamSong has been hit hard by the Recession, so Pastor Sunday (Nelson Gardner), the head Pastor at the church of DreamSong concocts a plan to bring his church back into the spotlight!
Australian Musical DreamSong by Hugo Chiarella (Books & Lyrics) and Robert Tripolino (Music) in the hands of director Lauren McKenna is a great match. There is no shortage of talent in this production and every element of on or off stage work perfectly with each other to create an excellent night at the Theatre. The balance of humour alongside relevant and at times moving story matter make for a comedic musical that is more than just a few laughs strung together. It is a touching story, that while thoroughly enjoyable, its ending does not provide the perfect bow that we have come to expect in a musical, which I found refreshing and exciting. Instead of just ‘well wasn’t that lovely’ (which it most definitely is!), DreamSong leaves and encourages its audiences to think about its message long after they have left the theatre.
From the moment you enter the Theatre you are greeted by the ‘Dream Team’. The captivatingly enthusiastic ensemble worked seamlessly together and the comedic timing is on point. This cast is a mix of very capable newer and more experienced performers, artists to definitely watch what comes next for them.Annie Aitken as the Pastor’s wife, Whitney Sunday is a stand out. Her character is fully formed and present from the first moment we meet her, and by her song in Act 2 (It Isn’t Fair) it’s easy to see why, she is a true highlight of the show. Maxwell Simon as Chris T brings a youthful naive charm to his character and, paired with his comedic timing, makes his performance enthralling to follow. Gardner’s portrayal of the Pastor Sunday is all the right kinds of slick charm we could expect from his character, that were it not for his Act 2 number (Pastor Richards Soliloquy) you might miss the darker sides of his character. Olivia Charalambous as Jesus Christ is glorious to watch, I almost wish there were more moments in the show with her.
Madison Lee’s Choreography was a definite highlight - a mix of expected Musical moves balanced perfectly with recognisable moves of pop culture. The Ensemble bring it to life with such energy! A particular stand out is Luisa Scrofani whose embodiment of the moves and truthfully story telling worked in harmony in each moment of the show. Maverick Newman’s Musical Direction is brilliant, the cast maintained the clarity of the songs, while still hitting punchlines within their songs and overall the music alone is a thrill to hear. Chiarella & Tripolino’s story is filled with heart and joy and it handles the delicate balance between making a statement and making fun with grace. It is clear this story, while taking place in a religious setting, is not about religion, but the human experience, temptations, tolerance and kindness above all else. No one is being laughed at, but the ludicrousness of some extreme intolerances are being pointed out and highlighted. It is a story for today, for it’s audiences and it is one worth paying attention to.
If nothing else, DreamSong affirms that we have clever, insightful and talented writers in our own backyard and supporting their work can only lead to bigger and better things. I say get out there are support Aussie theatre makers, new works and especially new theatre companies as exciting as Ebbflow.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.