BWW REVIEW: Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On THE SAPPHIRES
Tuesday September 24, 7.30 pm, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta.
BWW REVIEW: Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On THE SAPPHIRES.
The Sapphires is a joyous, heartfelt, engaging musical that explores issues of race, Australiana, relationships and warfare.
Four sisters form Yorta Yorta, in country Victoria, perform a Supremes tribute show. Their first gig is a tour in Vietnam to entertain the troops on the front line. To their surprise they come too close to the dangers of warfare while dealing with clashes of races, the trials of relationships and the challenges of performing in a foreign war.
This is an extraordinary story in Australia's history and thanks to Writer/Director Tony Briggs. An important story that now has a more prominent place in our collective consciousness.
The four sisters who squabble with sass and jibes portray the family love, support and division with gusto and with their own style of camaraderie.
Matilda Brown as Kay, Mindy Kwanten as Cyth, Lorna May Merrypor as Jules and Jade Lomas-Ronan as Gail bring to life to sisterly love that extends to the difficulties of performing in a singing group.
Their voices are superb and the audience enjoys their harmonies with opportunities to hear the beauty of the individual voices with songs including: Love is Like a Heatwave, Yellow Bird, Respect, My Boyfriend's Back, Chain of Fools and many more.
Merrypor's Julie is engaging, strong and layered. Merrypor gives her character depth and warmth. She empowers the audience to feel Jules difficult journey.
Matilda Brown holds a fine figure as Kay the wise sister keeping the others on track. Her stage presence is earthy and accomplished.
Lomas-Ronan plays the demanding and frustrated Gail. Her performance is powerful and commanding. Maybe Brigg's direction pushed her energies too far, we needed to see some evidence of where the anger came from.
Kwanten plays Cynthia with bravado and oomph. Her performance allows the audience to thoroughly enjoy her characters intentions, wishes and pleasures.
Mike Smith owns the role of Dave the Manager. He embodies the cheeky, brass yet genuine intentions of his character. A superb performance.
Leeroy Tipiloura is a joy to watch as the Jimmy and the MC. A gregarious and engaging role that Tipiloura wonderfully portrays.
Wem Etuknwa plays Robby with strength and gusto, another strong performance from the male cast.
Anthony Lim also gives a skilful performance as Joe. He expertly displays the traits of the local Vietnamese surviving a war-torn country. We see the many layers in Joe's life. I did wonder in a production that explores many issues around race and culture, was Lim directed to have too may stereotypical characteristics.
Mitchell Kwanten, Joel Macintyre and Jack Hickey as the band under Nathaniel Andrew's direction expertly bring the musical numbers to life. The music, commanding, rockin' and wonderfully orchestrated . To enjoy loud music and to be able to hear every lyric is just perfect. Although I wonder if the theatre's sound system did the band thorough justice.
Mark Howett does a superb job with the lighting, emphasising the the singers on stage with flair and expertly portraying the events of the many war scenarios. The land mine seen was very effective.
There was a few awkward elements to the staging. I didn't realise that Robby was hanging from a trapped parachute until the end of the scene when the dialogue let us know this information. Up until that point it seemed like he was awkwardly sitting on the back of truck.
The scene with The Dancing Couples was clumsy and unclear of its intention. This is the same when Jules was lost at the camp which then suddenly transitioned to the group performing on stage.
These are minor attributes to a fine and thoroughly enjoyable production.
The Sapphires: Important story and issues explored. Characters to enjoy and journey with. Music to reminisce and stomp your feet to. Performances with power and conviction and voices to enjoy with excitement.
Playing at Riverside Parramatta until September 28th