Thursday 27 June 2019

Any Moment - Musical Theatre Review

What: Any Moment
When: 25 - 26 June 2019
Where: Chapel, Chapel off Chapel
Composed by: Bradley McCaw
Musical direction by: Shanon Whitelock
Performers include: Du Toit Bredenkamp,  Harry Fenn, Anne Greenland, Vidya Makan, Bradley McCaw, Natalie O'Donnell, John O’Hara, Jessie Singleton, and Shanon Whitelock
Cast of Any Moment
Any Moment was performed in concert as part of this year's Melbourne Cabaret Festival to coincide with the release of the concept album for this new Australian musical created by McCaw. Taking over the Chapel for two nights, the cast had a lot of fun playing with the new (very new) songs as well as singing the older material (developed in 2018) incredibly well.

Any Moment is not like the kind of musical we are used to. Sitting somewhere between a song cycle and musical theatre, this show is intended to be a kind of meandering through the lives of people living in a suburb across the course of the year. If I understand the idea correctly there is no book as such - the story (if you can call it that) is told across a collection of songs. There is apparently a main character(s) - because every good musical needs romance - and McCaw explained the story is 'revealed' across the course of the evening.

I kind of like the idea of there being no book because in truth the greatest weakness I have experienced with new Australian musicals lately is appalling books. I don't know why composers and lyricists aren't working with actual playwrights, but the whole thing is a bit of shemozzle.

In this concert presentation I have to admit nothing about the story of characters was revealed. Having listened to the chosen material what I can most confidently say is it is absolutely Australian and McCaw can write really good tunes. His lyrics are a bit tricky because whilst, for the most part, he uses the standard feminine rhyme, every so often he throws in an assonant rhyme which causes a moment of dissonance for the listeners. This may very well be deliberate but to be honest it felt more like a lazy cheat.

The songs themselves are musically diverse with all of the tropes of solos, duets, quartets and group vocals. My favourite was probably the comedy rap number which included a dad who forgot to pick his daughter up before heading to the community barbeque (pictured above). There was a completely new ballad performed by O'Donnell which was heart rending. It was asking the question if anyone knew the old man down the road who had just died.

Interestingly, having looked up other musicals of this style (Closer Than Ever, Songs For a New World) it seems to me musical theatre is finally discovering Modernism. As I listened to the songs I found myself hearing a world reminiscent of Ginsberg poetry or perhaps, moving a bit further forward in time, the detail and high definition of hyperrealism.

As I said, I wasn't able to really grasp the/a story from the concert. It may be more clear on the concept album. In fact, it probably is. I did wonder, though, if this is a story I would care about. As intriguing as the every day detail of this community is I tend to prefer my theatre to have a meta concept or idea. For example The Sound of Music has WWII, Fiddler On The Roof has the Jewish Progrom, even Wicked has a form of Apartheid. Having said this, without a book I don't know how you would or could layer this is.

What Any Moment is, is a wonderful snapshot of modern Australian suburbia. You won't only see yourself in this music, you will probably see everyone you know.

2.5 Stars

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