BWW Reviews: WITCHES WITH YOUR SSO ENCHANTS IN SYMPHONIC SPELLCRAFT at Sydney Opera House
The witching hour was brought forward by a margin over the weekend when four of Australia's most wicked and wonderful took the stage backed by the magical Sydney Symphony Orchestra for a most spellbinding concert full of passion, humour and sonic sorcery. OK that's all the magic puns I swear!
Having interviewed the four leading ladies some weeks ago, I entered the Sydney Opera House with much anticipation for the program curated by legendary Kellie Dickerson, a compilation of magic-themed numbers from musicals of screen and stage. What I was not prepared for was a truly entertaining, and cheeky performance very well directed by Working Arts Productions' Peter Adams.
Amanda Harrison and Jemma Rix are known respectively as the first and longest serving Aussie Elphabas in Wicked, as Helen Dallimore and Lucy Durack are known for creating the role of Glinda in London and Australia respectively. Having now all of them moved on from that musical, this concert was a marvellous return to form for them all, and each establishing diverse talents. Joining them vocally on stage, especially for the performance is Australia's Ben Lewis home from London and famous for playing the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Weber's Love Never Dies on home soil, and what a resplendent homecoming he enjoyed!
Dallimore certainly showed the most brass and personality on stage, where Harrison triumphed many of the lead vocals; Rix showed consistency in class and clarity, and Durack played with her innocent image most welcomely. With Lewis to back them in numbers from The Witches of Eastwick and Into the Woods, he also took his own phenomenal form for 'Til I Hear You Sing from Love Never Dies. Other highlights were Durack's performance of Princess, written for her from Sing On Through Tomorrow, Dallimore's Last Midnight from Into the Woods, Rix's With You from Ghost, and Harrison's part in Defying Gravity is still outstanding and distinctive.
The symphony, slightly reduced for this packed stage, were similarly marvellous, and although there seemed to be some issues with sound levels where the vocal performers were concerned, the orchestra kept incredible cool. Showing not only what great scores like Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter, and Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory sound like, but also how they visually delight with bows and cymbals dancing their own choreography. It struck me that Dickerson is the first female conductor I've seen, and I know I hope that shows like Witches encourage more female performers to keep pushing those ceilings and taking those stages for their own.
All images by Robert Catto.
Gowns designed by Jamie Sortino (Adelaide represent!)