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Violet: A Musical at Adelaide Fringe 2017 - Review

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by Jonathon Tonkin (subscribe)
I'm a 26 year old male Senior Reporter for Weekend Notes. I Graduated from A Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Communication) at UniSA in 2014. As well as writing for WN I have also done pieces for the Adelaide 36s and Mawson Lakes Living.
Event: -
A musical to testify
Powerful. The power you would find in a Gospel church, 1000 strong. Violet: A Musical is an ecstatic blend of music, singing and dancing that deals with a number of strong themes and yet keeps you smiling all the while. A performance that will have you bobbing along to a number of catchy tunes delivered by a handful of local artists. All of them showcasing their abilities and talent. What this show does best is highlight each and every individual performer, showing how to bring out a talent to its full potential and presenting the audience with just how well Adelaide performers can come together.

Violet Musical Davine Fringe
Young Violet and Her Father - Photo provided by Davine Interventionz

The show begins with an eerie tone. Violet, played by Casmira Hambledon, alone on a chair staring at the audience. This is scene is quickly broken though as Violet remembers back to when she was a child, her younger self, played by Eloise Q Valentine, next to her singing a joyful tune before a horrific incident occurs leaving a scar across Violet's face which cuts much deeper emotionally than it ever could physically. This blending of the past and present continues throughout the performance. As Violet reflects on her past or daydreams, new scenes come together alongside the current one with the song and lyrics bouncing off each other. This lyrical jousting is an anchor to this show. The cavalcade of powerful voices involved work well and complement each performer. The cast chemistry is sound with no cast member skipping a beat as characters shift between one another.

Violet boards a Greyhound bus, its September 4th 1964, and she is on her way to Tulsa Oklahoma. The first act of the musical is contained primarily on this trip. The second act compounding the end of her journey as confronts a TV preacher in Tulsa to request a miracle healing. The stage shifts from stop to stop. From Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Kingsport, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee to Fort Smith, Arkansas and finally to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Along the way she encounters and befriends a pair of soldiers. An African-American Sergeant, Flick, played by Fahad Farooque, and a white Corporal Para-trooper, Monty, played by Mitchell Smith. The trio bond in a variety of ways along their trip. The musical tone shifts seamlessly from town to town.

Violet Musical Davine Fringe
Flick and Monty introduce themselves to Violet- Phoht provided by Davine Interventionz

From the upbeat country anthems to the soulful rhythm of the Memphis blues to the heart-raising hymns of Tulsa. Violet: A Musical doesn't skip a beat as it takes on genre after genre, songs flowing into each other, to perfectly suit the setting and characters. The environments come alive as the music fills the Star theatre. Musical Director, Peter John, has put together a great ensemble. The orchestra maintains a high energy that keeps spirits up with the music being one of the main contributors to the theme and feeling in each setting.

The other main contributor, of course, is the cast. The supporting cast all really fit their respective roles. With so many different styles of music spread throughout the piece, each performer is a snug fit for their little slice of the American Mid-west. From Lisa Simonetti's, booming rendition of true southern gospel, Andrew Crispe's moving sermon that will having you yelling Hallelujah or Ray Cullen's portrayal of a plethora of varied characters. No one here has failed to put their heart into what they love to do. Demonstrating the passion that can be found in local theatre. The level of vocal talent on display is tremendous.

It is the performances that really shine in Violet: A Musical. Casmira Hambledon, a rising young talent in the theatre scene of Adelaide, continues rising with a performance that test her vocal and emotional range with Casmira coming out the better. Violet goes through a number of emotional shifts as she handles her pilgrimage, the judgment of others, making friends, dealing with conflict and confronting her past. Casmira pilots Violet through this with ease. Her experience and talent coming through to deliver a consistent and inspiring performance. Fahad Farooque and Mitchell Smith then come in as two soldiers who become friends with Violet. They again demonstrate both emotional and entertaining segments and switch between the two easily.

Violet Musical Davine Fringe
Violet and Flick - Photo provided by Davine Interventionz

All these pieces put together bring you along a sensational journey of discovery through the Midwest where you'll feel like you're one of the family. Violet: A Musical has number sensitive and tender moments. Yet the upbeat, electric tunes come in fast to keep your heart pumping and your foot tapping. Violet has enough to make you feel and more than enough to entertain.

So head down to Star Theatre and see it today and be part of the Great South.
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When: 22nd Feb - 4th Mar
Where: Theater One at Star Theatres
Cost: From $30
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