There’s a new kid on the musical theatre block. Brisbane-based company Understudy Productions has debuted at the Metro Arts with Edges: A Song Cycle, written by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek.
Not happy to wait around for the phone to ring for his next performance gig, Musical Theatre graduate (from Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium of Music) Alex Woodward decided to put on his own show – and good on him. It’s surprising that so few emerging music theatre performers are this proactive about their careers.
Showcasing five other emerging artists (Dominic Woodhead, Luke Hodgson, Pia Frangiosa, Stephanie Long and Danika Saal), Edges offers an alternative genre of musical which, rather than following a traditional storyline and plot, offers a series of vignettes surrounding the universal theme of relationships.
Under the professional direction of Ian Good, Edges is set in the context of a group of friends reuniting to share and compare the past and present. The contemporary musical style covered a range of moods from ‘F U songs’ to the more poignant moments, in which all the performers injected both energy and ethos.
The talent on stage was obvious, and the multi-layered harmonies really enhanced the quality of the performance, but it was the uber-talented Dominic Woodward who left an impression. As the musical director of the piece, he not only accompanied the other performers (along with Tom Collins on guitar and Nick Woodhead on drums), but performed as part of the ensemble with an equally impressive voice that was smooth, with an ‘easy listening’ quality to it. His comic number about accidentally killing the class pet gerbil was very entertaining.
Luke Hodgson and Pia Frangiosa’s tongue-in-cheek tango song “I Hmm You” brought a few chuckles, with the highlight number of the night being Danika Saal’s “In Short”.
Edges: A Song Cycle is a great choice for a young company as it is fairly stripped back production-wise (the set comprised of a simple rostrum with some party lights, eskys, beer bottles and towels, giving it a beach vacation kind of vibe). The vignettes didn’t require changing sets, elaborate costuming, or even a large orchestra.
However, given the musical was also written by emerging artists at the time (19 year olds in fact), and did not have a storyline to follow, or challenges and conflicts that develop rich characters and complex relationships over the course of the story, it was hard for an audience member not already invested in the performers to invest too much into the show, so some of the songs ended up washing over.
Edges played at the Brisbane Metro Arts from 20-23 July.