Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dr. Zhivago

When I heard that there was a production of Dr Zhivago as a musical, I was skeptical. Honestly, if it weren't for Anthony Warlow I wouldn't have gone. The concept didn't interest me, and with new musicals I'm dubious as to the quality of the music. However, if it's good enough for Anthony Warlow - who has the pick of any project he desires - then it's good enough for me. Mandy and I had seats front and centre in the grand circle. They were fabulous seats, and the best part is that we got them half-price through So yes, we somehow had two of the best seats in the house, and paid half of what everybody else around us had. Lucky us!

The production had it's clunky moments, that is to be expected from any new show. I felt that the sets were a little too sparse, they could have made better use of the space with the overall design and really given a "wow" factor. The feel of the production is sparse and gloomy, similar to Fiddler on the Roof or Les Miserables, which is understandable given the subject matter. However I think that those productions do a better job of creating a world on the stage. Dr Zhivago tied the scenes together with a table and chair that remained on the stage throughout. It came across as an after-thought, as though they had consciously realised they were lacking something and thrown a table in for a bit of consistency. I wasn't loving it.

But the music! Superb! The themes repeated with beautiful consistency throughout the show, tying the story together artlessly. The music is fantastic, and the lyrics of several songs stuck in my head. The worst part? The soundtrack for the production is not yet finished, therefore no CDs are available. Because it's a brand new musical there are no videos on YouTube, no covers on iTunes, no way to relive the magic of the night by listening to the songs that are stuck in my head. I can't even find the lyrics anywhere! So I resort to watching the same promotional song over and over again.

A strong performance from Anthony Warlow, and his female leads kept up admirably. Fellow male lead Martin Crewe as Pasha was an absolute standout from an acting perspective (as well as having a great voice!) and I'll him to my list of performers to keep an eye on.

Just a warning about the sound effects - the gunfire is LOUD. I almost jumped out of my seat everytime. There are a few aspects such as that which they did very, very well. So while I wasn't loving the sets the special effects were well done and they created some very powerful scenes. From a staging perspective they often had multiple scenes happening at once, and that usually worked effectively, with the odd exception where the crossovers were confusing as people perhaps did not move quickly enough.

Grand circle was perfect for this show as they used the full depth of the stage, and we had a great view straight down the middle. Not a single audience member in sight for us, just like watching a movie at home. If I went again I would probably try the stalls just to get a little closer to the performers now that I've experienced the full production.

They say that it's hard to get Sydney on it's feet, but they sure were tempted this time around. From my perspective this is a raging success and will be doing the rounds for many years to come.

What: Dr Zhivago
Where: Lyric Theatre, StarCity Casino

Open until 2nd April, tickets through, and you can also buy tickets for the Melbourne season through Ticketek. Scheduled to be in Brisbane from July.

The vocals, the music, the lyrics. Powerful and passionate characters brought to life.
Anthony Warlow!! :-)

It's a BIG story to fit into one show. You really feel that you're only getting a small tasting platter. There is no way around that, and overall the producers have done a great job of condensing the story into a workable version for stage.

Don't miss this one!!!

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