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Theatre Review: Beyond the Barricade

Beyond The Barricade State Theatre then various venues in NSW

Review by Ron Lee, CSP

Beyond the Barricade Musical

Do you go to see musicals for the story, the acting, the spectacle or the songs? If you’re there mainly for the music and the songs, then Beyond The Barricade is for you.

This lean, low-budget production, consisting of four singers and three musicians, features one of the hardest-working troupes in the world. It was the brainchild of Andy Reiss who has had extensive experience in British musical theatre. The title is a reference to Les Miz, the show in which all of the performers have featured.

Beyond The Barricade opened with excerpts from Miss Saigon, a musical that contains no memorable songs. None of them sounded familiar, and when reviewing it in New York City, I quoted a Broadway critic who wrote, “I walked out of the theatre humming a song from another musical”. Then came more recognisable numbers from The Phantom of the Opera, Chess, Crazy For You, The Lion King, Wicked and West Side Story.

Poppy Tierney’s Readers’ Digest version of Chicago stood out as did other moments such as Andy Reiss’ excerpt from Jesus Christ Superstar; it was riveting. Australian singer Elise McCann also did a couple of powerful spots. The audience participation bit was a singalong to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Spamalot.

There was a flashback to the golden age of vaudeville with a fast-paced turn by Reiss and Dave Fawcett who looked like a hefty version of Derryn Hinch.

Fawcett was also the MC and it seemed like he had performed in the working mens’ clubs in the north of England, “My wife is a stunner. She’s not attractive, she just works in an abattoir”. His jokes were like revisiting old friends from a bygone era, although he did make an amusing reference to the soon-to-be-released film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and how much we’re all looking forward to hearing Pierce Brosnan sing again.

This production didn’t include Cats, A Chorus Line or any Rodgers and Hammerstein, but after all, it’s only a two-hour show and the performers were mostly drawing on their own professional experiences.

Beyond The Barricade is an entertaining piece of theatre and it will be touring other parts of NSW.

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