Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Monday, 31 July 2017
Bowie & Mercury Rising, July 27, 2017
MUSIC THEATRE Created by Warren
Wills At Chapel
off Chapel, until July 30, 2017 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 27, 2017 Stars: **1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Thurs July 27, 2017 & later in print. KH
Thando Sikwila, Jess Mortlock, Warren Wills
Warren Wills’ piano playing and inventive musical arrangements are the great
strength and focus of Bowie & Mercury Rising, Wills’ tribute to his musical
heroes, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury.
accomplished musician and musical director, is the sole instrumentalist in this
show and his arrangements for piano and electronic keyboard have an expansive,
almost orchestral quality.
vocalist, Thando Sikwila, joins Wills on stage to sing an eclectic selection of
Bowie and Queen hits, ranging from Bowie’s Life on Mars, Suffragette City, Heroes and Space
Oddity to Queen’s We Will Rock You and
We are the Champions.
Sikwila’s performance is refreshingly unembellished and her rich,
controlled voice can be thrilling and moving; the show would improve if she
were let off the leash throughout, as she was in the bold, jazz-style finale of
Despite the musical successes, the component parts of this production do
not form a cohesive whole and the problems start with the repetitive
choreography (Jess Mortlock) and Sikwila’s awkward dialogue delivered at
irregular intervals between songs.
Mortlock is a capable dancer, but her choreographic interludes are
overwrought, do not illuminate the songs and are not effectively integrated
with the singer and musician.
Thando Sikwila, Warren Wills
Wills’ concept for the show is unclear and the dialogue, although
sometimes quirky and diverting, is often confusing, providing no through-line
The projected images are sometimes enlightening but more often distracting,
and the lighting (Jason Bovaird) needs simplifying to maintain the focus on
music and lyrics.
This production is crying out for a writer and, more urgently, a
theatrical director, to find a narrative and conceptual thread to link the
components and give greater insight into Bowie and Mercury.
This show would be far more successful if it limited its scope to being a
short concert cabaret with a tight focus on Wills, the pianist, and Sikwila,
the singer. I’d happily watch that show.