AU ABROAD

Arts Review: Jerry's Girls - the Production Company - Arts Centre Melbourne (Performances To December 6)

TPC JERRY'S GIRLS photo Jeff Busby_1542

What a breath of fresh air for Australian musical theatre. In recent years, we’ve tried to create our own original work but it hasn’t always translated. Well, let me tell you; this one translates. Starring 11 of the industry’s most dazzling ladies comes a show dedicated to celebrating the works of American composer and lyricist Jerry Herman.

Jerry’s Girls is essentially a song cycle but very cleverly put together in a company-devised piece that explores the mechanics of the two-week rehearsal period for a Production Company show. It’s all about gaining that “insider knowledge” we all wish we could be privy to, and to really understand the dynamics between cast and creatives.

These leading ladies need no introduction, as together they clock up countless years of stage experience. In saying this, I guess what really made this show unique was their ability to poke fun at themselves and to play to their stereotypes, which, seeing played out was absolutely hysterical.

The world of theatre is such a magical place because it allows us to escape our everyday lives and become involved with the characters up on stage. While this show was not the kind of show where you could connect with Herman’s iconic characters, it did allow us to see a more relatable side to some of the industry’s biggest names.

Rhonda Burchmore, Nancye Hayes, Silvie Paladino, Christie Whelan Browne, Virginia Gaye, Claire Lyon, Kirby Burgess, Chelsea Gibb, Debora Krizak, Josie Lane and Natalie O’Donnell, along with Brent Hill, invigorated new meanings to some of Broadway’s classic shows including Hello, Dolly!, Mack and Mabel, Mame, Parade, Milk and Honey, and La Cage aux Folles.

Notable mention must go to Christie Whelan Browne for her incredibly accurate portrayal of the show’s choreographer Andrew Hallsworth. The resemblance really was uncanny. Also to the quintessential balladeer that is Silvie Palladino; her exquisite performance of ‘Shalom’ was a beautiful change in pace that drew us in from start to end.

We also need a moment to take in the sheer brilliance of Virginia Gaye and her newfound place in the Australian musical theatre scene. Her duet of ‘Bosom Buddies’ with Rhonda Burchmore was just divine and showed just how sassy these two ladies are.

Jerry’s Girls is a clever show that works to the strengths of each performer thanks to the powerhouse creative team that is Dean Bryant, Andrew Hallsworth and Mathew Frank. If you’re looking for an outrageous night at the theatre, then this show will have you belly laughing the whole way through.

Performances are on until December 6 but for more information visit https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/musicals/jerrys-girls.

The reviewer attended the show on opening night November 21.