Inner West Side The Musical
Director/Writer Jake Bayssari
Seymour Centre Reginald Theatre until September 22
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
With so many outstanding, expensive musicals in Sydney, it’s also delightfully rewarding to experience a creative, youthful, raw and extremely entertaining low-budget offering that’s part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.
Inner West Side The Musical, the creation of Jake Bayssari, takes us on the journey experienced by Andrea, a spoilt Upper North Shore girl (excuse the tautology) who was raised in Killara, was educated at Ravenswood, drives a Jeep and receives a generous allowance, all courtesy of Daddy.
Having achieved everything socially possible and risen to the heights of recognition on her stamping ground, Andrea ventures into a geographical area and culture in which she has no familiarity, the inner western suburb of Newtown which, over the past thirty years, has attracted a plethora of hipsters and greenies. She shares a house and quickly works out who’s who in the community. In a short space of time she becomes the Queen of King Street. On her way to the top, Andy, as she is now known, has had to climb over and outshine her predecessor, Monica (Elouise Eftos), who has a past that is entirely unacceptable to the left-lurching proletariat.
The lead role of Andrea is superbly played by Laura McDonald. At times McDonald reminded me of a modern-day version of Anne-Louise Lambert (Picnic at Hanging Rock) and while performing songs such as “What I Learnt From Berlin”, she seemed to be channeling Chrissy Amphlett from The Divinyls. If the performer in this role is less than exceptional, the entire production falls flat. McDonald is brilliant and don’t be surprised if you see her on the world stage and screen.
As second lead, Rhianna McCourt, as Lara, matches it in the acting and singing departments with McDonald. Both graduated from WAAPA last year and they demonstrate that the Perth drama school that produced Hugh Jackman and Lisa McCune is still turning out extraordinarily talented performers. McDonald, McCourt, McCune? There seems to be a pattern.
Providing solid support are Roy Joseph as CC Razor, Britt Ferry as Freya, Georgia Britt as Stacy, Gautier Pavlovic-Hobba as Dan and April-Rose Desalegn as Sarah. One of the other actors seems to have performed in amateur theatre and could well be a paid-up member of Over-actors Equity. A bonus bit is the tap dancing routine. The enthusiastic five-piece band dominates the musical numbers.
Inner West Side The Musical has some appealing rough edges along with youthful professionalism, and as a theatrical musical experience it’s thoroughly enjoyable from opening to end. You’ll walk out feeling great knowing that original Australian musical theatre is in good hands. If you intend to catch some of the Sydney Fringe Festival, put this one on your list. It’s only running for the next couple of days, so get your in-line skates on and book soon.