The work of a receptionist is surely an unlikely premise for a musical. However, in the talented hands of writer-performer Bethany Simons and composer Peter de Jager, the woman (usually the case) who is a slave to her desk, the phone and the demands of everyone is transformed into a singing and dancing cabaret star in Reception: The Musical.
In the wonderfully eccentric and cluttered splendour of The Butterfly Club, audiences are given a close encounter of the funniest kind with the highs and lows, joys and sorrows, and even the dreams of a humble receptionist working at a music academy.
The score is original and the is writing clever with constant references to all that makes an office an office, like the jargon, the failure of callers to get her name correct (it’s not Stephanie) and hints on how to soothe an anxious photocopier.
There are also personal encounters, including students asking for the loan of a pen and conductors who have lost their cufflinks and the inventive receptionist saves the day with paper clips. Plus many loving references to music theatre with its chorus lines and love songs.
Simons is very talented at having a two-way conversation and effortlessly changes character. With a change of voice and a physical quirk she’s an elderly man on a walking frame toddling down the aisle to find his seat.
De Jager, from time to time, acts as a foil for the character Bethany, while doubling as a percussionist, sound effects person. A talented pianist, he plays a range of musical styles, managing to segue seamlessly from classical music to rag time and rap.
The only hitch on opening night was the bell that drew attention to itself by falling off the piano. And that says something.
Reception: The Musical offers audiences a hilarious romp through the life of a supremely optimistic receptionist who is determined to make the best of everything. An entertaining night, full of laughter, is guaranteed.