Friday 12 April 2019

Tone Death: A Ghost Musical - Musical Theatre Review

What: Tone Death: A Ghost Musical
When: 8 - 21 April 2019
Where: Upstairs, The Butterfly Club
Written by: Dylan Marshall
Composed by: Earl Marrows
Performed by: Gina Dickson, Darcy Myring, Alice Pryor, Jorja Polglase, and Ursula Searle
Choreography by: Diane Pereira
Costumes by: Dil Kaur
Technical design by: Georgie Wolfe
Stage Managed by: Sophie Ashkanasy
Darcy Myrin, Ursula Searole, Gina Dickson, and Alice Pryor - photo by Julia Kaddatz
Following up on their 2018 offering Pining For Affection, the musical theatre writing team Dylan Marshall and Earl Marrows bring their latest creation to The Butterfly Club for the Comedy Festival. Based on the very punny conceit of a comedian dying on stage (literally), Tone Death: A Ghost Musical is an all singing, all dancing otherworldly foray into the history of The Butterfly Club.

Doomed to forever haunt the stages of The Butterfly Club Mary (Pryor), Beth (Searle), and Jeffries (Dickson) tolerate each other despite constantly getting on each others' nerves. After all, what choice do they have? Beth also has a very annoying habit of being annoyingly cheerful and turning every moment into the opportunity for a group singalong.

Along comes Hugh (Myring). Hugh is a (not very good) comedian and at the same time as his jokes are dying on stage, so does his body when his heart gives out after being heckled by the ghosts.

A simple enough story, right? Well it doesn't stop there. The ghosts themselves are being haunted by some sort of Banshee creature (Polglase) who is responsible for them not being able to pass on to the other side. Once this is all established the rest of the hour is filled with Hugh finding out the truth and everyone banding together to try and overcome their fate.

Tone Death is a fun hour which is lifted beyond the ordinary by great lyrics, rousing composition, and the most incredible harmonies which are almost angelic in tone and quality. The songs are fast and funny and my main concern is that the actors really need to focus on articulation so that they audience doesn't lose track. Most of the information for the show comes through the lyrics so we really do need to comprehend every word in a pacy and clever collection of lyrics.

The show itself is kind of light weight but what else do you expect in a 50 minute musical?  Regardless, it looks good and sounds great so you are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the evening.

As much as I loved Marshall's lyrics - the song outlining the history of The Butterfly Club is a blast - I think the book is rather weak which is a bit of a pity. Pereira's choreography is a bit ambitious for the size of the stage but she gives us a good indication of what she could be capable of with more resources. Kaur's costumes are also detailed and clever although Searle seems to stand somewhat outside the overall general aesthetic for some reason which isn't really made clear.

Speaking of standing out, Polglase was a real surprise. There is something about her style, singing and acting which is strongly reminiscent of Casey Donovan. I look forward to seeing where she takes her talents in the future.

Tone Death: A Ghost Musical is fun and demonstrates a lot of potential talent. It is a great end to the working day and even more enjoyable with a cocktail from The Butterfly Club bar.

3.5 Stars

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