Review by Benjamin Lamb 11-year-old Verity loves space. Her tight knit extended family are faced with a daily plethora of facts from the budding astronomer. While dealing with family trauma and life in a small town, Verity is the glue that keeps them together. That’s the story for Voyagers: A New Musical, which made its way to the beautiful La Mama Courthouse theatre on Friday the 26th of November, marking one of the first times the show has been performed in full, albeit in a limited form.
The five performers were marked behind a music stand, indicating the show was still in workshop / reading form, even though the sold-out audience were faced with a toned-down version of the musical, we were all still brought into the otherworldly moments of the Sutton family. Initially, it felt unclear how the show opened, there was some quick conversations and dialogue littered with references to COVID and Zoom, areas in which theatregoers want to put aside as live theatre makes its return, but as the cast found their footing early on and began the musical moments, the audience was quickly brought in. It was refreshing to hear each member of the family sing in an Australian accent, in an industry where a large percentage of the shows we see are American based, for Voyagers to be solely Australian based, and have Aussie protagonists, it was truly a breath of fresh air. The show also excels in the balance between characters, another constant throughout a lot of Broadway shows is a main character, which at times is great, but often it doesn’t allow time for other, perhaps equally as talented performers shine. This is not the case for Voyagers, the limited cast truly was a benefit for the show, they each got their moment in the spotlight, and worked well off one another. It was not clear if this limited casting would be the case when the show is fully produced, but it seems it would certainly bode well. The Sutton family; Matt, Jim, Ginny, Katie and Verity are extremely well written characters, good or bad, you understand why they make certain decisions. Book writer Andrew Strano clearly has a strong understanding of character building and development, immediately we were brought into the worlds of the Suttons, and understood the dynamics between them, which paid off for certain events that ruminated in the second act. As this was only a reading of the show, there was limited elements of lighting and staging, but it appeared there was some effort of indicating what it would be like, and it helped the darker elements of the show bleed out, and helped the audience enjoy happy moments, like we were all honorary members of the family. There was also limited orchestration, solely a keyboard, but due to the strong vocal performances from the five piece, any more instruments would’ve taken away from the emotion their singing conveyed.
One notable out of the blue music moment of the show came late in Act 1 at the dinner table scene, where each member of the cast performed a short rap – an exciting and jaw-dropping moment for the Friday night crowd.
Voyagers: A New musical closes on the 28th of November, but due to the audience reaction and thunderous applause when it was over, be prepared to see this show hopefully hit stages sometime in the future.