Presented by: Magnormos and Melbourne Recital Centre
Venue: Melbourne Recital Centre
Monday 11 July, 2011
Dear World was the second performance of Magnormos’ showing of A Jerry Herman Triptych. For a one night only show the cast and crew pulled out all stops. The evening lived up to the expectation of a magnificent celebration of composer and lyricist, Jerry Herman. Last week, Milk and Honey (the opening performance of the triptych) was a ‘concert staged’ show and so sets and costuming were a minimum. In comparison, this week’s showing of Dear World, did not save any expense on the production, with an embellished set and detailed costuming. Transformed by a striped veranda covering and sprawled out wrought iron chairs and tables, the small stage was reminiscent of the Parisian cafe culture, thick with old world charm.
At the very beginning of the performance, Director Scott Hendry fronted the audience to inform that Dedire Rubenstin, the leading lady, had come down with illness but had chosen to go on with the show. Dedire’s courage in choosing to perform was very much appreciated. Her comedic style and warmth in manner was absolutely incarnate as Countess Aurelia. While her vocal ability did suffer as a result of the illness her resolute professionalism was admirable and her performance was delivered with such charisma and character that all was forgotten. A mention must be made to the superb musical arrangements of the evening. The orchestra, as directed by Trevor Jones, paid full dues to the sophisticated Jerry Herman score with their utterly faultless delivery. Each musical item was performed with delicacy and intricacy so that all the fine musical lacings of Herman’s score were audible. Neither did the vocals override the orchestra’s job well done. Each singer possessed finesse and skill so that they were entirely at one and harmonious with the orchestra. The roles of Madame Constance and Madame Gabrielle were divinely cast and provided rounds of laughter. With their irreverent asides to the audience, Jackie Rees and Maureen Andrews’ comic folly and naughty jokes were the source of much of the humour in the musical and their characters complimented the wit and naïve charm of Countess Aurelia. Their individual songs, including the hilarious ‘Dickie’, ‘Voices’ and ‘Thoughts’, were particularly memorable. The humorous lyrics were delivered with absolute zing and zeal and the vocal ability of these ladies shone as they showed how a demanding and fast-paced piece can be executed with absolute ease. Although first performed on Broadway in 1969, in today’s political climate, Dear World seemed utterly relevant at the Melbourne Recital Centre. A more timely production could not have been chosen as green ideals dominated the story. With the final performance of A Jerry Herman Triptych being next week’s showing of Hello Dolly, it is certain to be another outstanding tribute to one of musical theatre’s finest writer’s, Jerry Herman.