Reviewed by Tatum Stafford
Filled with showstopping choreo, adorable costumes and killer vocals, Sugar & Ice is a dream for fans of 90’s and noughties bubblegum pop.
The premise of this new musical is simple: Camilla was the star of Starburst, a girl group who rose to fame after a stint on the X Factor, and now she needs to navigate the world of solo pop stardom (without losing herself too much along the way). Throw in a few bitchy music industry elites, Camilla’s down-to-earth ex-bandmates and a hunky Tinder match.
This show gives a star-making turn to Jayda D’Agostino (Camilla), who is incredibly fun to watch and has an amazing voice for the show’s high energy pop numbers. Saskia Glass plays her lifelong friend Melody, and also wrote the show. Saskia gives great edge and sass in her portrayal, a likeable contrast as Camilla is sucked further into the pop industry machine. The other three ex-Starburst members, Lavina, Ebony, and Lauren, are played by Katie Green, Ebony Uetake and Rosemary Spelman. Each give very memorable performances, but special mention must go to Katie Green’s phenomenal vocals and crystal-clear belt. She’s given the chance to shine in a number towards the end of the show, and if my ears don’t deceive me, she was given an impressively high sequence in the show’s finale acapella number.
Emma Haines (Maxine Fox) and Rudi Palmela (Maxine’s assistant) are fierce, poised and hilarious every time they strut onto the stage. They make a fantastic comic pairing, and helped pick up the pace in somewhat slower scenes. Other support comes from Tabitha Kerlin who is super sweet as Penny, a close confidant of Camilla’s, and the ever-so-charismatic Joshua Firman who makes a number of memorable and hilarious cameos.
The dance ensemble are insanely talented, and so captivating to watch in intricate group numbers. The choreography is high-energy, high-paced, and high-impact.
Though it’s a very visually appealing show, some scenes did feel a little slow, and dialogue a little forced. It doesn’t seem to help that the show’s protagonists play into a lot of pre-existing tropes of stories like this one; a girl-group-turned-solo artist is struggling to find her way, rising to fame can be more taxing than it seems, friendship is more important than anything, etcetera. I really enjoyed the overall presentation of this piece, and hope that the creators can dive into a bit more complexity at their next Fringe outing (which I hope we’ll see in 2023).
All in all, this was a really fun and entertaining night at the theatre. A big kudos to the talented and hard-working cast – I’m sure we’ll be seeing them all pop up in Perth productions for many years to come.