Presented by: Melbourne Cabaret Festival
Venue: South Melbourne Town Hall
Thursday, 21 July, 2011
One would think that the music of Paul Kelly is not the most glaring inspiration for a musical or cabaret. However, playing at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, The Last Train: An Urban Tale Featuring the Songs of Paul Kelly, takes selected Paul Kelly works and casts them in a contemporary cabaret-style musical with great success.
The show takes place aboard a train, and while it doesn’t have a action driven plot, the audience is taken on a journey through song. There is no conflict and resolution or even a conventional ‘beginning, middle and end’, rather a series of vignettes linked by a common musical theme: Kelly. It is best described as an intersecting journey whereby a group of people from different walks of life have a shared encounter.
The show is a sequence of sixteen Paul Kelly songs, carefully and appropriately selected by Creator and Director, Jon Luscombe. With no spoken dialogue, only the lyrics of each song are used to serve the characters’ stories and tales. Almost every number is performed as a solo piece by one of the ten characters aboard the Last Train, each describing their personal experiences. The show is well directed and well delivered, and by the end of each number we firmly grasp every character’s unique story. While there is no distinct narrative to grab a hold of, the individual tales of all the characters provide enough momentum to keep the show engaging and enjoyable.
The music is successfully brought to life through the strong performances given by each of the leading players. Vocally and theatrically, the cast is very well equipped, with both television and theatre credits aplenty. The experienced cast includes Bert LaBonte, Kristin Holland, Rosemarie Harris, Nick Barker, Mikelangelo, Katie Wood, Amy Ruffle, Melissa Bergland and Melanie Vallejo.
Recognised for her role in Winners and Losers, Melissa Bergland was particularly entrancing. The might of her soulful, deep and moving voice was felt throughout the Grand Hall in the South Melbourne Town Hall. She was mesmerising and the audience craved to hear more.
The Last Train: An Urban Tale Featuring the Songs of Paul Kelly is a supremely enjoyable piece of theatre. The unique story of each character is so strong and so well portrayed audience remains thoroughly engaged and entertained for the duration of the piece. The delightful delivery of the material by an incredibly skilled and capable cast, made for a great night of cabaret.