Audience spellbound

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Audience spellbound

Crafty witch: ”Alexandra” Rhonda Melhuish and ”Darryl Van Horne” Paul Smith were two of the stars in Lyric”s latest smash hit.

DAZZLING, sexy and witty, Lyric Theatre’s latest production, The Witches of Eastwick is without a doubt a winner. Witches opened to great applause from an enthusiastic audience that packed into the Mesley Hall in Leongatha on Friday night.

From book to film, then musical, the story has stood the test of time and Lyric’s impressive theatrical adaptation of the John Updike novel and 1987 Warner film provided much hilarity, great music, movement, colour and some mind boggling effects. Witches is not only a triumph for creative master Colin Mitchell, the set, costume and artistic director who worked his magic to create the awe inspiring set and striking costumes.

Behind the scenes director Brad Beach, young choreographer Rose Wray-McCann, vocal director Cheryl Connor, musical director Glenn Calder combined with a brilliant team to produce one of Lyric’s most ambitious musicals so far. It is a feather in the cap for director Brad Beach who went out on a limb, dared to do something different and surrounded himself with some of the best talent in the business on and off stage.

No doubt about it, Witches was a huge undertaking with some of the most challenging music and stage effects to conquer and the whole cast, orchestra and back stage crew made it happen. The audience was treated to a vibrant and very lively opening number by the chorus of conservative Eastwick townsfolk, superbly decked out in a very smart array of carefully colour co-ordinated costumes, blending perfectly with the sets and brilliant lighting. The musical, sets and costumes smack of Colin Mitchell. His professionalism, creativity and acute attention to detail are evident in this well oiled production that provides a visual feast.

As the somewhat sinister story unfolds, the three modern day witches, sculptor mother Alexandra (Rhonda Melhuish), cellist Jane (Nicole Cooper) and aspiring writer Sukie (Melanie Coleman) appear and deliver their delightful opening number Make Him Mine. The crafty trio team extremely well, as they vie for the attentions of the devilish Darryl Van Horne, played by the talented Paul Smith. Paul is remembered by many for his magnificent portrayal of Jesus in Lyric’s 2005 production of Jesus Christ Superstar. But out goes the heavenly halo in this exciting production, as Paul is transformed into the intoxicating Van Horne.

He blasts onto the stage dazzling the audience and captivating all in his path. Paul is a natural, a passionate performer who delivers his songs with great gusto. The charismatic Van Horne has no trouble seducing the three witches. However he does have one arch enemy in town, the extremely uptight and totally domineering Felicia Gabriel (Belinda Allen), who returns to the Lyric stage after her 2008 role as ‘Fantine’ Wonthaggi’s Les Miserable. She is not hoodwinked at all by the charms of Darryl Van Horne and constantly bosses her hen-pecked husband Clyde (Tim Edwards), into trying to rid the town of the dangerous intruder.

A seasoned Lyric performer, Tim is celebrating his tenth year with the company and once again plays his part perfectly. He is almost unrecognisable as the poor downtrodden Clyde. Add to the poisonous brew a couple of young lovers in Felicia’s daughter Jennifer (Tamika Ball), a student at Mary MacKillop College in Leongatha and Alexandra’s son Michael (Josh Gardiner), mix with a little magic and things really start to happen. Van Horne leads the witches on a merry dance until they finally come to their senses and realise the damage this treacherous intruder has caused and are determined to get rid of him. This saucy tale has many twists and turns and provides some great laughs and one-liners.

Brad Beach has put together a cast full of talented regulars and newcomers, including Jasmine O’Shea, Churchill (Little Girl) and the ever popular and ageless Lyric stalwart Glenys Day (Brenda). Young Josh Gardiner, 15, exudes energy and delivers his songs with such professionalism it won’t be too long before we start hearing his name on stages in Melbourne.

There are many standout performances, and right up there is leading man Paul Smith. He is dynamic in his tough all dancing all singing sinister role as Darryl Van Horne, the devil.
The witches all three are brilliant, and when resplendent in sparkling blood red gowns they took flight high above the stage in a magical smoky mist and brilliant blue light singing I Wish I May. The audience was left gob smacked as the lights went down on a marvellous first half. If you thought the first act was great then the second was even better, as the actors really warmed to their roles and lifted the bar again and the audience was more than appreciative. The chorus did a top job and all their songs and dancing were so vibrant and alive.

This is definitely a show you would not want to miss. In fact if you get the chance don’t just go once, go again. Lyric’s Witches of Eastwick musical is simply magic! Tickets are still available from Mushroom Crafts in Leongatha. Phone 5662 3940 and Witches of Eastwick continues this Thursday, May 21 and runs over the next two weekends.

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Posted by on May 26 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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