Australian Musical, Summer Rain by Nick Enright and Terence Clarke is a joyful story with plenty of heart. The creative elements of this musical, with Enright mixing the two opposing worlds of Vaudeville travelling performers and the fair-dinkum farmers of the Australian Bush is priceless. Director and choreographer Trent Kidd delivered. Besides a couple of elements in staging that could’ve been a little stronger, Kidd worked wonderfully with his cast to achieve a very lively performance. On top of that, he devised skilful choreographed routines, that were whimsical, energetic and perfectly in keeping with the era.
The ensemble was joyful onstage. Their collective exuberance made it hard not to invest in the story. The harmony’s created were beautiful although the timing of some cast was out on the odd occasion. The ensemble set the tone for the show with their commitment to the performance and numbers like, “Nothin’ Doin'” and “The New Year” coming to life onstage. Collectively the cast performed, “Hear The One About…?” beautifully with an uproar of energy and laughter, capping the number off with group percussion made by playing the spoons and toasting metal steins.
The three Doyle sisters played by Anna Freeland, Clare Ellen O’Connor and Rebecca Burchett were well cast telling their stories with truth and grace. Nat Jobe and Catty Hamilton stole the show. The pair, playing Clarrie Nugent and Joy Slocum respectively, lit up the stage with their energy and commitment. Jobe and Hamilton were entirely watchable. The twosome’s number “Watch The Puddles” was thoroughly engaging; I found myself smiling from beginning to end.
The sound design was the biggest disappointment on this production with sound effects sometimes turning on and off in a clunky fashion and used irregularly. A wonderful sense of atmosphere could have been created with how often the rain was mentioned and by not utilising sound effectively, this felt like a missed opportunity. Similarly I was aching for projection or something similar to be used to achieve a stronger effect of rain when this is such a pivotal part of the storytelling.
Mason Browne’s costume and set deign were sharp. Costumes on this show were almost faultless with the cast decked out in 1940’s garb. In keeping with the script and the idea of constant rain I felt like the cast should’ve donned the odd pair of gumboots, carried an umbrella or thrown on a raincoat. The set had good versatility and worked effectively, although I wish it had done a little more. The most utilised set piece, the pub facade needed a point of difference to separate it from the other houses but it worked effectively on the whole.
Set over an Australian Christmas and New Year, Summer Rain is a joyful show to see as we encroach on the holiday season. Perhaps this charming show full of life and candour will inspire us to think about ceasing the moment and reflect on exactly how we want to enter the New Year.
Summer Rain runs at the New Theatre until December 17
Jess Wright – Theatre Now and Talking Arts
15 Nov – 17 Dec 2016
Book And Lyrics By Nick Enright,
Music By Terence Clarke
“Year after year the game’s not worth a cracker/
Then the moon changes colour and the sky lights up”
Christmas Eve, 1945. Harold Slocum, proprietor of Slocum’s Travelling Family Tent Show, has a love of the horses, an intimate relationship with bookies and no money to pay his troupe.
After the performers walk out, the Slocum family finds itself in the drought-blighted NSW outback town of Turnaround Creek. Deciding to put on a show, they muster the enthusiasm of the townsfolk, despite the hostility shown by local publican Barry Doyle, who remembers the last time Harold was in town, 16 years previously.
Then the drought breaks and the Slocums are stranded. Over nine days of rain, dormant memories of an illicit affair resurface and emotions run high, new life is breathed into the town, love blossoms and a feeling of rejuvenation and optimism for the future after the long years of war, beings to take hold.
Nick Enright and Terence Clarke’s charming musical celebrates the vaudeville troupes which travelled outback Australia in the 1930s and 40s and the tight-knit rural communities they entertained.
With a delightful score referencing both Hollywood and Australian musical traditions, and a light-hearted, laconic script, Summer Rain is the perfect way to end the year.
“Marvellously entertaining” Sydney Morning Herald
Venue: New Theatre
Theatre Company: New Theatre
Performances Dates, Times & Tickets
15 Nov – 17 Dec 2016
Previews: Tue 15 & Wed 16 Nov 7:30pm
Tue – Sat 7:30pm
Final performance: Sat 17 Dec 5pm
Groups (10+) $27
Student Rush $17
Thrifty Thursdays $17
Director: Christopher Hurrell
Lighting Designer N/A
Sound Designer N/A
A/V Designer N/A
Assistant Director N/A
Production Manager/Stage Manager N/A
Stage Manager N/A
Production Assistant N/A