Saturday, August 21, 2010
Orange and Green but with diamantes...
"oh my father he was orange and my mother she was green..." The lyrics that sum up my Saturday the 21st.
I cannot remember such an enjoyable day with me wearing my two most opposing 'hats'. The day began at the Polling Booth which I had 'adopted' on behalf of GetUp. Wearing my bright orange (yep... flattering colour!... well not so bad on me actually), handing out scorecards on the actual policies announced by the three major parties. I handed out over 1500 in around four hours... that was indicative of just how tight the Federal Election was, with so many still "undecided" and accepting our cards. Some of course were just being polite and taking everything so as not offend any volunteers but many were actually interested and reading the check lists.
Needless to say I was challenged very early by a man pushing to see if we (GetUp) were actually spruiking The Greens. We had been warned about this and that these people would most likely be workers for the two major parties attempting to have us breach our legal duties of endorsing NO POLITICAL PARTY and definitely NOT advising anyone how to vote. I was very careful to point out that we were scoring announced policies only and that the voters should use the card to find the party whose policies were important to them!
It is not my fault, not GetUp's 750,000 members fault that Bob Brown's Party had the more popular policies across a range of environmental and social justice issues. Thus not surprisingly the Green's votes reflected this in the returns across the Nation.
As proof that GetUp was unaligned one need only read today's Age coverage to see that in Malcolm Turnball's electorate in NSW, GetUp scorecards actually pointed out that BOTH major party candidates held views different from their own parties on many of these important issues (Refugee processing and Climate Change etc). Hence Turnball had an increased swing and I do not believe it was simply that his was a safe Lib seat.
Also it is indicative of a broad backlash against the negative and lowest common denominator slur campaigns waged by the ALP and LIbs that there was an increased INFORMAL vote... yep. I predicted it yesterday and called it the "Latham Factor". In two Sydney electorates there were over 13% of the recently counted votes considered informal. This is no accident as in both electorates, Blaxland and Watson have had an almost 6% increase in informal votes since the last election. Even in my safe Lib seat there was a small swing against Greg Hunt the sitting member and Shadow Environment minister. We also doubled our informal vote from around 2% last time to over 4% in this election.
With Eden-Monaro holding just a ALP it looks like Gillard will be in the better position to negotiate a Government with the cross benchers, as they have the greater two-party preferred despite an abysmal primary vote in the mid thirties. So the winners by a mile... a Governement held responsible for every vote in the House and no mandate for either side... great to marginalise the Party Power Brokers at last.
So I see it as a win for The Greens and a win for GetUp in taking up the old Democrat mantle to"keep the bastards honest".... so yep Orange and Green... my parents would be so proud.
Then just to round off the day the best poll of the day. McKenney for Peter Allen or Hugh Jackman. Let me tell you it is McKenney by a mile. I was lucky enough to see Todd play Peter Allen in the original production and have seen clips (Tony Awards etc) of Hugh doing Boy from Oz and the performances were both strong. As all my friends know I avoid Arena Productions like the plague so it will come as no surprise that the cast was a revelation for me, having not seen Fem Belling's Liza or Christen O'Leary's Judy. Whilst I stand by my original claim that Angela Toohey 'was' Liza and Chrissie Amphlett was scary in that she virtually 'channelled' Graland in the original, these two newer cast members are very strong and amazing also. It was always goin to be hard to fill the high heels of the original two stars, and Fem and Christen do the Company proud.
As for my dearest friend Todd, (yes I am biased... but I can be very objective when reviewing.. just ask another friend, Jodie), he is "to die for". I can now say he has grown into the role even more. His vocal production and resonance is so much better than the nineties performance and his dancing is as good as ever (it was Award winning then!). He is fitter than I have seen him in years and keeps the young hoofers on their toes also. His Rockettes-line is precision, and whilst I have seen Jackman kick higher, McKenny knows that the secret to 'the line' is not height but the evenness with the girls and the differing heights of the dancers. It has to be mirror across the row. This one is... a true Rockette's moment.
Nancye Hayes direction is also masterful. She knows dance and how to sell a show. When I caught up after the performance I congratulated her and told her Pounder would be watching from above with pride. Nancye then showed me a special locket that she always wears commemorating Betty... how amazing and so touching. There are times when I cannot escape the profound legacy the Williamson people have given the Industry in this Country. This was another such moment, as was seeing Jack Webster onstagein Poppins, John Scandrett's System Sound ' The choice' the new promoters, Peter Casey and Michael Tyack waving batons in the Pit, and of course Robbo guiding Cam Mac Australia. ( Nor do I want to leave out Sue Nattrass for all her years at the helm of the VAC). WOW! (To think I had a small insignificant part in this hisotry also.).
Away from reverie and back to the now!
Robyn Arthur's Marion is magnificent. Whereas originally one felt Perryman was wasted in this role, by the sensible and clever re-writing and re-working of the book, Marion is given the powerful position narratively the script needed. And when she gets "Robbie's Turn" it is worth the wait, literally bringing the house down. Well done girl.... you are spectacular!
David Harris is also better placed by the re-working, as Greg becomes more foregrounded. By he removing the pretense of Boy from Oz being a traditional 'book musical' and moving towards a more modern 'sung-through libretto' with the only linear breaks occuring as Todd's Peter works the audience, cabaret-style, the production itself shines and glitters in a way the original did not.
The I still call Australia Home and Rio routines last time felt forced and 'un'-integrated, this time they flow from the patter and narrative more cohesively... they belong and fit at last. That was my biggest complaint in the original. This allows Todd McKenney to 'become' Peter and to work the audience as he used to do (remember Up in One at the Maj anybody?) And whilst Peter's American twang grated on me, and his Vegas gyrations seemed so over-wrought at the time, both play well now in the new century when replicated by McKenney.
This is an all-star vehicle and whilst the Production Company and Jeanne Pratt would like to sell all the shows as such, this time it is true. The power of the production comes from its commitment to the production. The set is functional and minimal, yet the sparkling backdrop... perfect, allowing the focus to be on the p;erformers at all times. We do not come away singing the sets and costumes this time... and even Rio is a tad toned down in colour palate and much to the better. the period costumes from Bandstand, to seventies NY Village to the unbiquitous legwarmers for the cattle call, everything is perfect.
I cannot go past the wonderful Fosse-esq choreo for Liza... ah the white gloves and bowler hat. Belling is great and we recognised instantly the red fringed-dress and vest with cuffs. This is a Minelli-esq moment also.
Being small in stature herself O'Leary nails the fragility of Garland and this time the 'ghost character' whites are so effective. There was not a dry eye in the house for "Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage" and "Don't Cry Out Loud".
The songs themselves take on a more powerful place in the popular music canon when combined with the magnificence of the renditions coming from the State Theatre stage. And John Foreman's small stage orchestra brings all the power of a full traditional pit orchestra to the score.
I can't ever remember having raved so much about a production. Perhaps only the original Les Mis in Sydney. I cannot wait to go back in January if it isn't already sold out. But reading between the lines on a couple of conversations last night (there may be more performances in Melbourne and touring is not 100% out of the realm of possibility). I hope so. This show deserves to run and run and take on the McIntosh staples... we Aussies can match it with the best.
As for the vote... Jackman versus McKenney... for me it is McKenney all the way.