I am an Adelaide based writer, passionate about sharing fun and interesting experiences, with a particular focus on live theatre.
Audiences bowled over by Shane Warne the Musical
presented by Segue Productions
Sometimes when a celebrity becomes so famous, the best way to tell their life story, is through satirical songs. Such is the case with Shane Warne the Musical, whose South Australian amateur premiere was secured by Adelaide based theatre company, Segue Productions, for their very first Adelaide Fringe production. It was a sensational production with everything to love and difficult to find a fault with, and, if you'll excuse the pun, it was just about perfect, and [Shone] Like Shane.
Shane Warne the Musical is a satirical comedy with music, lyrics and book by Eddie Perfect. Featuring clever and witty dialogue and a diverse range of music genres, from Gospel and rock, to soul and Bollywood, the musical documents the life of one of Australia's greatest personalities, his highs and lows, and the mischievous behaviour which often resulted in negative consequences.
Directing a musical comedy of this nature and to tell the life story of such a famous personality, requires a skilled director, and therefore it made sense that Brian Godrey was chosen for this role. His experience in directing comedies was most evident, ensuring that the musical flowed at a fast pace and didn't drag. Godfrey's blocking also made excellent use of the "theatre-in-the-round" style space, which saw actors making their entrance and exits from several locations and occasionally interacting with the audience. In particular, the choice to have actors play a small game of cricket with some lucky audience members at the commencement of the second act was particularly unique and interesting, and most fun to watch and participate in.
Moreover, the nine actor cast which was assembled to bring Warne's story to life was exceptional, and they navigated well an often quick change of forty plus characters between them. However, while each actor shone in their own way, there were a few particular standouts. Kristin Stefanoff gave a nice delivery as Shane's wife Simone, and had beautiful vocals, particularly demonstrated in What About that Shane, Sarah Jane Whiteley was confident and had an excellent stage presence as Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Butler as Terry Jenner (TJ) had excellent vocals, demonstrated in Pick Up Shane, but it was Buddy Dawson in the coveted role of Shane Warne, who truly shone. Dawson perfectly encapsulated the cheeky, mischievous and carefree personality of the larrikin that Shane was, but was also able to show his raw emotions, as he began to realise the consequences of his actions. To see Dawson sobbing during the Pick Up Shane song, was truly heartbreaking, and made me cry.
Though the actors give excellent performances, the production elements were also excellent.
Ben and Kristin Stefanoff and Brian Godfrey's concert-style set saw Ben Stefanoff's twelve-piece orchestra seated behind two rows of black chairs placed upon a large strip of artificial turf, to become much like that of a grandstand, and actors frequently watched the musical from these seats, whilst occasionally reading a magazine, drinking beer or water, to further reflect this grandstand seating, a staging choice which was most clever. This simple static set design also meant that the many scene and location changes were rapid, as through the use of small set pieces brought on and off stage by the actors, coupled with simple lighting changes (designed by Brian Godfrey and Ben Stefanoff), locations and scenes were able to be changed quickly, through implication.
Choreography by Mark Stefanoff (with assistance from Kelsey McCormack and Ashleigh Rathjen), was fun, lively, inventive and relevant to each music genre.
The simple base costume of blue jeans and a white t-shirt, with only an occasional full costume change, was an excellent choice, and allowed for quick character changes, often in full view of the audience, through the addition and removal of a simple jacket or clothing item.
Though I admit that I dislike watching cricket and that for me it is like watching paint dry, watching this production was anything but. It was an entertaining production and one that I'd be most happy to see a return season of.