Today we bring you the third and final instalment of David Harris’ Whirlwind World Theatre Tour blog. We have followed David from London to Montreal to the bright lights of Broadway as he detailed his month long theatrical holiday in an exclusive blog for AussieTheatre.
Once more there were far too many shows to see in only one week, so the hardest thing was choosing the shows I could fit in.
I was really keen to check out Ghost and I am glad I did. I was lucky to see Cassie Levy and Richard Fleshman. I take my hat off to them. All leads were perfect and created the story of Ghost as we remember. Cassie and Richard sing beautifully and have great chemistry, which is most important to make the emotional scenes as affecting as they were. The staging effects are jaw dropping and very clever, culminating to Sam vanishing onstage before us after the sad and final goodbye to Molly. I may have had a tear even. Maybe. The only thing I didn’t dig was the choreography the ensemble has to do, but as a show, I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope it succeeds in Australia next year, as it deserves to.
Thanks to the very talented Stephen Oremus I scored the very hard to get tickets to see Book of Mormon. It was easy to see why it has taken off so massively. I purposely didn’t listen to the recording before seeing the show so I could see it totally blank of opinion or knowing of what I was about to see. Oh! My! Goodness! If a show can push the boundaries, it’s Mormon! It is terribly offensive and extremely politically incorrect, and I loved every second of it!!! What else do you expect from the creators of South Park, Avenue Q and Team America? Set in Uganda, a team of Mormon graduates try to get the locals converted, ending in a laugh out loud, they-didn’t-just-say-that-did-they musical. The score is tough and witty, the book is funny and the cast, again, were brilliant. I hope it makes its way to Australia one day! I am actually laughing as I write this at the memories of it.
I couldn’t pass the opportunity to see my friend and Australia’s much loved Tony Sheldon in Priscilla before it closes. They had just received their notice the previous day, so the audience were going off from the overture and continued until the end. It was great sitting there as an Aussie seeing a musical which is not only about Australia and set in Australia, but also started its life in Australia. The accents of the Yanks may have been a little British, but hey it was fun hearing them try! I will always favor the original Aussie production though. It had enormous heart, something slightly lost in the Broadway production, similarly when I saw The Boy From Oz on Broadway, but I could be just too biased. It was wonderful seeing Mr Sheldon leading the cast on a Broadway stage!
After another whirlwind week of attractions like Top of The Rock, the High Line (the old elevated train line in the Meat Packing District which is now a beautiful walkway where you can walk along through the streets of NYC – a must do!), The Statue of Liberty, shopping, riding around Central Park on the most sunny of days, catching up with some ex pat performer friends and, of course trying out some bars, my final show was Wicked.
It was really strange going to see it and heading backstage to meet the cast before the show. It was even more surreal having a quick rehearsal in the Gershwin of As Long As You’re Mine with Stephen Oremus and our new Elphaba stand-by for Seoul, New York based Jenny DiNoia (who is brilliant in the role). When I first saw Wicked I knew nothing about it, now it can be said that it is quite the opposite! Every line, every set change, backstage traffic… It’s so hard to watch it objectively now. I remember watching it nine years ago, being transported to Oz and marveling at the clever entwinement of the story to The Wizard of Oz, crying during For Good with my good friend Shianne – who had just traveled around the world with me (I know, I’m a softy) – and walking out of the theatre declaring I will be in that show one day.
It’s funny what happens and it’s both a happy and a sad feeling that now, I am preparing to leave that show that meant so much to me. It’s a special show and clearly is to so many people (there are still massive lines at the ticket box before each show waiting for any available tickets). The cast in New York was great and the audience lapped it up. It’s testament to the creative team that continues to keep a close eye on every production around the world, ensuring audiences get that same show I had nine years ago. It was actually a really fitting way to end my holiday as I boarded a flight bound for Seoul, Korea where I am now performing in that very same show – for the next little while at least.
New York is a wonderful playground, as is London. Both very different, but both amazing places to experience and both with ample shows to see!!! It’s quite surreal walking out of one theatre and right there is another with another big show on. It’s like walking into a candy store. A candy store I want to visit everyday and get terribly fat on the treats on offer.
One thing that becomes evident when traveling to New York and London is that, yes we hold these places up on a huge pedestal and yes they are amazing places with brilliant performers and creators, but we should also be very proud of the standard of performance and productions we produce in Australia too. There were performances and shows I saw which inspired, motivated and entertained me, but there have also been many times I have seen similar inspiring performances and productions in our hometowns too. So head out and see a show this week. You may be inspired too!
David will officially join the AussieTheatre team when Legally Blonde rehearsals commence. Be sure to read his weekly rehearsal blog detailing the ins and outs of working on a professional musical.