Review: Young Talent Time 50th Anniversary Reunion Special at The Festival Theatre

Review by: Lia Cocks

As a young girl growing up, and wanting to be a musical theatre star, I religiously watched Young Talent Time with my family every Saturday night. And when I say family; my parents, grandparents, cousins…we were all huge fans! I dreamt of the day I would join the cast and sing on TV with Natalie, Courtney, Joey, Juanita and of course Vince Deltito.

That was not to be, but I could relive my dreams at the 50th Anniversary concert of Young Talent Time at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival!

A fantastic affair full of nostalgia and reminiscing as some of the big names from the show joined the well preserved and still full of energy Johnny Young on stage at the Festival Theatre for a night to remember.

With a huge screen set as the backdrop, we are greeted with old clips of the show which had the audience oohing and ahhing before the stars hit the stage.

And what a great mix of stars over the decades; Jane Scali, Philip Gould, Karen Knowles, Steven Zammit, Nicole Cooper, Beven Addinsall, Lorena Novoa and Joey Dee all graced the reunion, sharing special memories and moments of their time on YTT.

Steven Zammit, the 70s heartthrob, opened with ‘Sway’ and dedicated his next song, ‘My Way’ to those struggling to find courage and conviction. His jazzy, crooner sound was heartfelt, truthful and honest.

Jane Scali blitzed the stage with the same effervescent energy she brought to the show years ago singing ‘Music is my Life’ and throwing out brilliant double pirouettes and pas de bourree’s just like she did as a teen, showing the crowd she’s definitely still got it!

Her lovely recounting of her brush with Olivia Newton John [her childhood hero] led to her singing a beautiful rendition of ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’. A fan favourite, the crowd lapped up this true entertainer’s vitality and vivacity.

Next up was 80s heartthrob and pin up boy [at least in my bedroom!] Joey Dee.

While only on the show for a year, he made a lasting impact on all the young girls with his piercing green eyes and Michael Jackson moves. During his set, he brought a rock, gruff, 70s vibe with the Rolling Stones ‘Miss You’ which the crowd absolutely loved!

As a 10 year old joining the YTT family, Nicole Cooper loved the experience, confidence and resilience being on the show taught her. She showed us she still had the pipes and the moves with her delivery of ‘Venus’ followed by a fab ABBA medley. She was joined by alumni, Lorena Novoa for the final ‘Mama Mia’ duet.

The absolute standout was Beven Addinsall – the young 11 year old we all remember; the slacks, the tie, the mullet! And not to mention that incredible voice.

Well, that voice has only gotten better with age – his musicality, tone, pitch, emotion, vocal range, riffs and vibrato – it is an absolute dream to listen to! Hitting those top notes amidst old video footage playing on the screen behind him brought the crowd to their feet in a standing ovation.

After some banter and a little comedy routine with the band, Addinsall brought back his infamous song ‘How Great Thou Art’ by singing with his 1983 self on the big screen as a duet.

Not a dry eye in the house!

The 80s era was represented by the gorgeous Lorena Novoa, another performer from my generation. Bringing some Whitney Houston and Pointer Sisters vibes, she showed us what an incredible performer and entertainer she is!

Philip Gould, my mums personal crush, came and lent his beautiful, operatic, musical theatre trained voice to ‘Younger than Springtime’.

One of the originals from Episode One in 1971, Gould went on to perform in 42nd Street on the West End for 2 ½ years, performing for the Queen, Queen Mother and Princess Diana.

He then performed a dazzling medley from the musical ‘Crazy For You’ which included a soft shoe shuffle – what a showman!

We were privy to a little interview interlude between Greg Mills, an original cast member and now also the reunion shows very talented musical director, and Johnny Young – hearing stories of how YTT actually began, Young’s history as a singer/songwriter and the hits he wrote such as ‘Smiley’ for Ronnie Burns and ‘The Real Thing’ for Russell Morris.

Such a treat to hear this live from the icon himself.

Karen Knowles, the girl with the voice and the dimple, brought the house down with her version of ‘La Vie En Rose’ and then sung a beautiful and earthy composition she wrote as part of the Aboriginal Reconciliation Convention. This led into ‘I am Australian’, a song she recorded during her stint with The Seekers.

The team sang wistful duos [‘Send in the Clowns’ by Zammit and Knowles], jazz trios [Zammit, Addinsall and Dee performed ‘Mack the Knife’] and a little Zoom video of John Bowles wishing everyone a happy reunion rounded out the show.

The spirit of Young Talent Time will forever live on, and the common theme from all the team members during the show was gratefulness – grateful for the start of their careers, grateful for the lifelong friendships they made, and grateful for the family that is YTT.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the end of Young Talent Time without a rendition of ‘All My Loving’.

Everyone was on their feet, swaying and singing along with the same love and sentiment in their hearts as we had years ago.

Well done, and happy anniversary Young Talent Time!


Image Credit: Claudio Raschella