Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014

Whose Chorus Line Is It Anyway?, MFF 2014

0 Comments 24 September 2014

Improvised singing, improvised comedy, improvised dancing and a whole lot of fun are the perfect ingredients for a musical within a musical. Based on a single audience suggestion, all elements of a typical musical are played out, unrehearsed, to create a comedic experience like no other.

On Friday night, Impromptunes opened with their audience-suggested, appropriately named musical, Friday Night. With a new format structure, this Fringe Festival run has a similar vibe to the hilarious American Comedy Channel show, Whose Line Is It Anyway.

It follows the actors in a rehearsal for their new musical, as the director dictates what scene or musical number is to be run through. Throughout the show, the director remarks that we, the audience, have re-written parts of the show and that the actors know exactly what that is. This is where the comedy within lies. While the director gives her actors a vague point of reference, the rest is left up to them to decide how they will develop the story.

Through various improvised musical numbers – “Friday Night”, “Glitter in my Purse”, “There’s a Jail-Break”, “We’re a Listening Community”, and “Me is Changing Me” – the actors created many magical moments that were enhanced by really deep and profound lyrics. Their ability to think on their feet as quickly as they do, as well as find a melody, is so impressive. As far as vocal ability, each actor is obviously professionally trained, and much to their credit, and to the credit of pianist Rainer Pollard, many musical genres were explored. The layered harmonies were beautiful all the while allowing each actor to have their moment to shine. The director strategically orchestrated combinations of duos and trios but what led on from there was at the discretion of the cast members.

It’s difficult to take anything seriously with this type of comedy show, but if we are going to take away anything from Friday Night, it would have to be the issue of gender and how it was brought to the forefront by a pair of callottes. Yes, you read correctly. Callottes. For those of you playing at home, callottes are a type of loose fitting pant that looks like you’re wearing a skirt but in fact, you’re not. These pants represented the masculine and feminine struggle of identity in Friday Night as men and women soon became known as ‘mn’ and all lived genderless. The exploration of gender was rather refreshing and very creative and what is quite typically constricted by definition, found a whole new meaning. It is safe to safe that even though all cast members tried to be mn’s, there was no fighting human nature. Order was eventually restored and of course, through song and dance, Friday Night came to an end.

An improvised show such as this only works when the actors are actively listening to each other on stage and respecting each other creatively. This strong cast of seven consisting of Amanda Buckley, Hollie James, George Gayler, Morgan Phillips, Stuart Packham, Emmet Nichols, Charlie Sturgeon and Emily Taylor, allowed each other’s ideas to flow no matter how bizarre they were. At times, it was a little clunky and you could see when they were thinking intensely about what to say. It even became a little bit obvious that certain actors were instigators. But having said all of this, it is no easy task what they achieved and I would encourage everyone to see this show.

Impromptunes have various performances throughout the year so be sure to check out their website for further information.

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets to the show.

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