THE Lieder Theatre has tackled some pretty intense and confronting subject matter in2012, staging productions Rabbit Hole, Wolf Lullaby and When the Rain Stops Falling.
However, they are ending the year on a light hearted note, with a musical-comedy adaptation of Norman Lindsay’s classic children’s fable, the Magic Pudding.
Director Chrisjohn Hancock chose to use Aussie playwright Andrew James’ script, which is loaded with witty one-liners, sight gags and plenty of audience participation.
The play really connects with its target audience and the Lieder cast do the material justice. On opening night, the actors relished in the opportunity to explore their silly-sides and the littlies absolutely ate it up.
The stand out performers for me were Josh Waters and Shane Daly, who were brilliant as Possum and Wombat, a pair of pudding thieving scoundrels who’ll stop at nothing to get their dinner.
The pair threw themselves into their roles. Both have a knack for physical comedy and a natural shorthand with one another which makes them a pleasure to watch. They also have a love for larger than life characters and their chemistry with the audience will definitely make this a wonderful experience for children.
Likewise, Cara Jeffery’s puppeteering was outstanding, especially when you consider this washer first crack at it. Her voice work was excellent and she really managed to bring Albert, the Magic Pudding, to life.
Roger Feltham, Amanda Aitken and Jo Cooper provided a solid backbone for the show, as a clumsy trio of pudding owners who are constantly being taken for a ride.
Their chemistry with one another worked and they knew which buttons to push with the crowd. In fact, the funniest part of the play for me came from a quick recovery by Feltham after a piece of audience participation didn’t go to plan, with a young girl outing what I assume was her father as pudding thief.
Steve Routley was also quite funny, turning in performances as about a half dozen different characters. My favourite was his double-act with Muffy Hedges as a pair of old chooks.
The company did well to pull off the musical aspect of the play.
It is always risky to take on big musical numbers in community theatre. It is rare to find a performer who is a triple threat (somebody who can, sing dance and act) in the city, let alone in a small town. However, it was obvious that the entire cast had worked hard to make it work.
The singing was fine and the band – which consisted of Muffy Hedges, Wanda Kower and Catriona Wood – never missed a beat.
At the end of the day though, it is important to remember that this play aimed squarely at children and it really connects.
Throughout the show, I kept finding myself glancing over at the young boy sitting in front of me and marvelling at just how captivated he wa sby the whole thing.
The great thing about productions like this is that it introduces kids to theatre. The Lieder crew have done a wonderful job. I really hope parents take their children along to see it.