APO Arts Academy. Up the Ladder to the Roof. Review. (Written 25.7.12)
Up the Ladder to the Roof.
Presented by APO Arts Academy
Beckett Theatre, The Malthouse
Friday 29 June 2012
(Image from apoartsacademy.com.au)
Cast: Lucy Ellis, Lachlan Graham, Melissa Harrington, Baylie Hemming, Lauchlan Hewson, Daniel Jones, Leigh Kuehnapfel, James Leone, Casey Reddington, Lucy Ross, Camille Wai, Celina Yuen and ensemble.
Director/s: Derek Taylor, Pamela Apostodilis and Scott Hendry
Apo Arts Academy’s end of semester spectacular, Up the Ladder to the Roof, was definitely a hidden gem in regards to musical theatre in Melbourne. The night focused on a variety of songs from musical theatre and other film based musicals. The students at APO Arts Academy are trained in all aspects of musical theatre, including dance, vocal and acting.
I sat apprehensively in the Beckett Theatre, with many members of my extended family, waiting for the performances to start. My grandfather kindly told me that he wasn’t impressed with the last APO performance he saw, stating that it was disjointed and that it contained a lot of inappropriate content (ie. Profanity). My uncle told me that he had read reviews and it wasn’t very good. I became one with the prospect that it was going to be the most boring student based performance of my life. After all, it was really just a showcase of a bunch of songs unrelated to each other by a bunch of students who were still learning their craft.
I am very happy to say that I could not have been more wrong.
The students from the Associate and Advanced Associate in Musical Theatre degree slowly graced the stage for their opening number, ‘Ragtime’, from the musical of the same name. I was blown away by their highly trained voices echoing throughout the theatre even though the song and performance itself seemed fairly flat.
Amongst the solo performances there were many that were memorable and stood out from the others.
Leigh Kuehnapfel delighted the audience with “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man. His ability to use a comedic charm while holding an American accent and not breaking character was unprecedented and unexpected. The audience laughed and listened intently as the spoken words strung from one to another and Kuehnapfel barely took a breath. The ensemble added life to the song and helped set the scene against the black backdrop. He set the tone for the rest of the night. His performance of ‘She’s a Women’ from Kiss of the Spider Woman, set on an empty stage, let Kuehnapfel simply sing. It was there where his true talent shone. He is definitely one to look out for in the musical theatre scene.
Bailey Hemming’s performance of ‘Raven’ was beautiful and breathtaking. She stood there alone on the stage and just belted out the song. I sat there intently listening while the hairs on the back of my neck tingled. You could actually feel the audience move forward on their seats. Her vocal talent is unbelievable and something that really has to be witnessed to understand the sheer power that she has.
Lachlan Graham’s portrayal of a crazy stalker in “I really, really love you” was incredibly funny. His over the top performance style just emphasized the crazy that was in the character. His vocals were excellent as was the acting.
‘Same Old Song’, from Eurobeat, echoed the hilariousness that is Abba (sorry, Avla). The acting and dance routine for the song was excellently choreographed and highly entertaining.
Melissa Harrington’s performance of “He vas my boyfriend” originally from Frankenstein, was incredibly well performed both musically and theatrically. She pulled off a floorless German accent while keeping character. It showed her skill and versatility as a performer.
The closing number, a sequence of songs from the musical of “Catch Me If You Can”, finished off the show nicely. The montage of songs allowed the cast to show more of a ‘musical theatre element’ that told part of a story. It was slightly disjointed as it was only four songs from the musical, but at that point, it felt more like a show. It was a strong closing element.
Up that Ladder to the Roof has definitely became my gateway drug back into musical theatre. It contained the right amount of comedy and more serious songs to keep the audience entertained, while also showing the talent of each and every one of the students who performed. It was incredibly clear to see how much effort the students put into learning and practicing, especially in regards to drama and dance elements. It really was a showcase of their talents. I really wish the best of luck to each and every one of them as they all have very promising careers within musical theatre discipline.
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