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The Beautiful Game - Chapel Off Chapel

Home > Melbourne > Musicals | Performing Arts | Theatre
by Tricia Ziemer (subscribe)
Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Event: -
20 year old play brought to Australia by Karen Jemison
The Beautiful Game Soccer
The Beautiful Game Soccer


Be prepared for many laughs at the scripted Irish humour, chills on your arms from the superb singing, and tears, lots of tears. This brilliant musical has the trifecta combination for a winning show.

I had not heard of this play before, which is a huge shame. I adore Andrew Lloyd Weber, so I am not sure how this musical slipped under my radar. I have revelled in so many of his brilliant musicals and play his music regularly on my radio show.

The girls support their boys at the game life is young and bright
The girls support their boys at the game life is young and bright


But thank goodness for all Australians, Karen Jemison (Producer and Director) saw it when it was first produced over 20 years ago in England and was inspired to bring it home. She was living in London during some of these world-changing events evolving around the countries unrest and the IRA. Her bank was even bombed by the IRA, so she felt the struggles between the Catholic and the Protestants deeply and its impact on the broader community. It was a horrific time for the Irish and Brits that unfortunately still resonates now within the country. This makes this rework of this musical incredibly relevant and heartwrenching.

Stephanie Wall stunning performance in musical
Stephanie Wall stunning performance in musical


The deeply moving theme around this play and poignant song, superbly performed by lead actor Stephanie Wall, is "If this is what we're fighting for, I don't want to win". This song is sung so soulfully by Stephanie, with her voice breaking, that you are transported to another time and era and feel the pain of the Irish at the time. Marina Prior may have a new protégée to follow in her footsteps. This young lady has a pitch-perfect voice with incredible power.

Costuming by Karen Jemison perfect
Costuming by Karen Jemison perfect


The costuming is fantastic and perfect for the era, even to the authenticity of the pram for new young mother Nicola Bowman, who is the best friend to the leading actor Stephanie Wall. And the set design was simple, efficient and highly effective for the small space. Congrats again to Karen Jemison.

You must get the program on the night to read all about the talent of this cast. They really are amazing actors and performers that pull you in completely into this wonderful show.

Irish Soccer team strive for grand final
Irish Soccer team strive for grand final


As we are getting close to the AFL Grand Final, every footie lover can relate to the opening song in celebration of "Football", which we term Soccer. But the sentiments are the same, the excitement leading up the to Grand Final and potential win. The Irish Catholic Priest and Coach, played immaculately by
David Meadows, rouses his team to stay on the straight and narrow, and focus on, "The Beautiful Game".

Irish Priest attempts to keep peace in religous hatred
Irish Priest attempts to keep peace in religous hatred


Irish boy torn between love and country
Irish boy torn between love and country


Star player and leading man, Stephen Mayy, struggles to stay focused thanks to the allure of Stephanie. He played the role powerfully in both song and acting.

Chapel off Chapel is a lovely intimate theatre to view any show, but the stage is a tight space. This made the choreography, by Sue-Ellen Shook, even more spectacular. It was slick, especially during the footing playing scenes. That many actors playing soccer in such a tight space and yet it made you feel you were really at a game.

Stephanie and Sophie in stunning duet
Stephanie and Sophie in stunning duet


I found duet between Stephanie and Sophie Loughran, a highlight of the show, with perfect harmonies. They sang "God's Own Country", Stephanie as a Catholic and Ellen at the Protestant. Both cherishing their country through the eyes of their religious belief. It was soul-stirring.

There were so many wonderful performances, it would take a volume to describe them all. But I can say, there was not one weak performance in this musical. It sang in all ways.

Young love lost
Young love lost


Finally, the pièce de résistance for me was the musical direction by Daniele Buatti. Do not be fooled that the cast is just singing to a soundtrack. The secret to this spectacular show is the musical ensemble hidden under the seating. The Director, Daniele, is on-screen on three screens for the actors. Two on each side of the stage, and one at the back. It brings a second performance and breathtaking preciseness to the performance.

Then ending is not what you expect, but indicative of the conflict. What resonated with me at the end of the play was one mindful thought in time. We are taught to hate no matter what cultural or creed. Children are curious, accepting, and they have no idea of cultural strife. But parents are ingrained with the hatred they were taught based on something as simple as religious belief. And then the parents teach the kids to hate. This musical highlights this powerfully with the depth of its scripting and original musical numbers. Ben Elton who wrote the book and lyrics has excelled.

Dark times for all the people or Ireland
Dark times for all the people or Ireland

At the end of the show there were standing ovations and when the Musical Ensemble finished, the theatre rang with Bravo.

Do not miss this show at Chapel off Chapel.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the CD for this show, so I can listen again and again and play it on radio.
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*Tricia Ziemer was invited as a guest
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Why? You love Andrew Lloyd Weber Musicals
When: Tuesday to Saturday - 8pm and matinees 2 pm Saturday and 3 pm Sunday
Phone: (03) 8290 7000
Where: Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC 3181
Cost: $89 - Premium $75 Adult, $69 Concession
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