I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Yank written by Joseph and David Zellnick, first featured Off-Broadway in 2010. Now in 2019, it makes its Australian premiere at Brisbane Powerhouse's MELT Festival. This is a critically acclaimed, and absolutely gorgeous show—as the festival title suggests, Yank will MELT your heart.
Yank is a musical based on the story of gay soldiers during World War II; when being gay was a crime. The production opens with a modern-day young man who has discovered Stu's (Andy Johnston) personal war journal in a second-hand shop. At 18 Stu should have been safely at home working through all those identity questions we all face around that age. Instead, he finds himself drafted into the US Army, heading for war and living with strangers. In basic training, he struggles with both the physicality of war manoeuvres and how to relate to the butch, women loving men of Charlie Company.
Mitch (Alex Gibson Giorgio), nicknamed Hollywood for obvious reasons, is popular with all the men and couldn't appear more straight. He becomes Stu's protector, and soon Stu falls in love. Once Stu acknowledges those feelings, there is a sudden unveiling of gay men all around him. Artie (Eli Cooper), an openly queer reporter for Yank Magazine, appears just in time to firstly save Stu from the front and secondly help him navigate the gay subculture, simmering beneath the surface of Uncle Sam's "macho, clean living, world". While at its heart this is a love story, it is also a story of survival and discovery.
The beautifully tender moments of self-discovery and love have been expertly woven into a celebration of Hollywood romance films of the 1940s. Stu's story, as told in his journal, is delivered in the classical musical style. Beautifully acted scenes are punctuated by 11 gorgeous men and the incredibly talented Naomi Price (who plays a number of diverse female characters) dancing and singing their way through wartime classics; all set to live music from a 7-piece band.
Yank is a wonderful story, beautifully directed by Ian Good and choreographed by Dan Venz. The cast of 12 all gave strong performances, and while Alex (Mitch), Eli (Artie) and Naomi (All Women) as central characters all shone, Andy's (Stu) performance was a standout. He filled the room with palpable emotion, layering Stu's character so that fragility gave way to strength and confusion to certainty.
Yank will be playing at Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre from Thursday 04 July to Sunday 14 July 2019. With tickets priced between $49 and $65, this has to be some of the best value entertainment in town.