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Review: Spies are Forever at the Zenith Theatre

Review by Scott Whitmont

Spies Are Forever by ‘The Tin Can Brothers’ (Corey Lubowich, Joey Richter and Brian Rosenthal) is a musical James Bond-world spoof which deals with a number of serious topics such as grief, self-image and found family. It does so, however, through comedy, a song and dance lens and an extremely silly and sometimes nonsensical plot of foiling ‘bad guy’ world domination. Despite the show’s inbuilt challenges, the extremely youthful and exuberant ensemble cast of the North Shore Theatre Company manage to provide a performance brimming with vitality, talent and laughter galore.

Our hero and lead spy, Curt Mega, is played more than ably by Toby Rowe, incredibly assured with a stage presence that belies his mere 18 years. With excellent comic timing, he switches effortlessly between vulnerability and blustering confidence as the character demands. His singing as well as his soft-shoe-shuffle dancing equally impress and show great promise for his future on stage.

His co-star Meg Nevin as the Russian spy Tatiana Slozhno plays the perfect foil and is gifted with a phenomenal singing voice. A student of musical theatre, she is clearly a talent to watch. Another similarly impressive voice is that of Jay Mancuso whose lounge singer solo this reviewer would happily play on repeat were it be recorded.

Also worthy of special mention in the singing stakes are the charismatic Toby Nunn as Sergio Santos, Brianna Webster (Barbara Larvenor), Milo Kidd (Owen Carvour) and the diminutive yet power-exuding Dean Alexander as the evil Dr. Baron Von Nazi.

Of course, all these impressive vocals are not delivered a cappella. The six-person orchestra led by Co-Musical Directors Zoe Conolan-Glen and Kim Gilbert are clearly young masters of their musical craft and should be congratulated. Likewise, kudos must go to choreographer Jess Luth, ably assisted by Dance Captain Paris Freed who moves with confidant poise and perfect timing. Choreography routines were at time simplistic, but they worked absolutely with the assured steps of the entire ensemble. Though some musical numbers could have worked just as well if shorter (the show runs at a too-long almost three hours), each was near perfectly performed and had the audience regularly in rapturous applause.

The program does come with a warning that portrayals of fascism, genocide and antisemitism may offend despite their being depicted satirically to “mock the villains”. It is true that (particularly) the song Not So Bad (in reference to Nazis) does elicit some discomfort.  In these sensitive and troubled times, however, it is hard to not offend somebody…and that, I suppose is the nature of satire. 

As a young community theatre group, some sound and lighting miscues can be forgiven. Overall, Director Matthew Dorahy and the entire trans and gender diverse cast and crew (unexpected on the traditionally conservative North Shore) should be proud of what they have achieved with this not-uncomplicated production and the impressive and enthusiastic way they have tackled it. 

Image Supplied


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