Review by Matthew Hocter
When you come from a small city such as Adelaide, a place that for the most part goes unrecognised (give or take a few years as one of the world's most liveable cities), it’s easy to forget some of the local talent that has taken the world by storm. One such homegrown talent is Hugh Sheridan.
Bringing their latest offering, Hugh Sheridan - My Way to the Adelaide Fringe this year, was a feat within itself given the year that was for the performer. With a family death, a breakup and controversy surrounding their portrayal of Hedwig (in a production that was cancelled before it even started), Sheridan has been put under the pump, and that is a gross understatement.
Like so many others, the excitement to see Sheridan return home and on the stage again, was something that many wanted to see succeed. Their credentials on the small screen and stage are long, extensive and solid, something that not many 36-year-olds can’t lay claim to. The expectations were high. Sadly though, they didn’t deliver.
When attempting songs that either are or should be in the great American songbook and delving into the genres of Jazz and musical theatre, the shoes that one has chosen to walk in are massive, so the need to turn up and deliver is non negotiable. As Sheridan took to the stage, clearly enjoying the contents of whatever was in their glass, nothing seemed to fit. Messy dialogue with slurred speech was spread throughout the show and the inability to hit certain notes was painful to see. Yes, Sheridan’s mid range was ok, but anything outside of that fell completely short.
The saving grace(s) of the show was Sheridan's six piece band, all of whom are local South Australian musicians, along with Maiya Sykes, friend and phenomenal vocalist. After Sykes' performance of Etta James “I’d Rather Go Blind,” I couldn’t help but think how I’d wish she had stayed on the stage and finished the show off, if not just for the quality of her voice, but also to save her friend and co star from further embarrassment. That didn’t happen.
With a revisit of Hedwig (and the angry inch) and talk of the cancel culture that surrounded Sheridan and their departure from that show, Sheridan attempted two songs and flashed a whole lot of crotch. This is probably one of the worst reviews I have had to write in my career and one that pains me no end, but I owe it to the artist to be honest. Sheridan is INCREDIBLY talented and has shown this time and time again, but tonight's effort wasn’t even in the realm of where it should have been. Yes, people stood up and applauded and that again is an issue I find in the arts at large - we have been so devoid of anything good for the last few years that we essentially are enabling those that don’t deliver or pass off mediocrity as some “enlightened” form of artistry. It’s not.
Hoping that brighter days are ahead for Sheridan.