Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: Two more performances, 2pm and 6:30pm Sat 17th December
Duration: 2hrs 35min incl interval
Tickets: Premium $50/adult $38/child $33/family [2+2] $110 and extra children $27.50 each
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or http://www.bass.net.au
The Adelaide Festival Centre's Christmas Proms have become a regular treat for many Adelaide families, couples and even individuals, and a packed Festival Theatre showed that this year is no exception. People of all ages filled the theatre and the sense of excited anticipation could be clearly felt. The audience did not have to wait long.
The concept this year was that we were on a world cruise, and the Adelaide Art Orchestra were dressed in white tee-shirts and sailors hats awaiting departure, with Captain Timothy Sexton ready at the helm. A motley crowd of noisy passengers arrived, quickly transforming into the Adelaide Vocal Project, and it was time to weigh anchor.
The Orchestra started the voyage with a great version of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, which described the rest of the programme rather well. It also included a rare moment for the bassoon to shine, with a short run of fast notes in the upper register. Alongside both religious and secular Christmas carols and songs was a real Christmas Mixture of music from around the world, as well as a number of pop, film and show tunes. Andrew Lloyd Webber featured, as did Rogers and Hammerstein, and even Tchaikovsky, with Lepak from his Nutcracker Ballet, a Christmas piece where inanimate objects magically come to life.
There were two guests this year, the ever popular soprano, Marina Prior, who is in constant demand for musical theatre roles, from Gilbert and Sullivan, to Cats, to Les Miserables, to Phantom of the Opera and, most recently, Mary Poppins, and the classically trained pianist, Bernard Walz, who crosses boundaries left, right and centre, embracing a vast range of music and investing it with his own vibrant personality.
Marina Prior was the first of the two soloists to appear, with a marvellous rendition of Almost Like Being in Love from Lerner and Loewe's 1947 show, Brigadoon (incorrectly attributed to Rogers and Hammerstein in the programme). Bernard Walz followed immediately with a virtuoso rendition of a couple of Irving Berlin's songs, I Love a Piano and Play a Simple Melody, with a brief interlude on Nola, by Felix Arndt. Individually, and together, these two great performers returned many more times to add their impressive talents to the evening, every number drawing huge applause.
Between numbers, Timothy Sexton injected plenty of humour, as he introduced each song in his own easy going manner that always endears him to audiences, even contributing a vocal or two of his own. The Adelaide Art Orchestra played superbly all evening and the Adelaide Vocal Project, a group of twelve of Adelaide's best singers, contributed some impressive harmonies, all, of course under the baton of Maestro, oops, Captain Sexton
The inimitable Dale Ringland joined in on piano for a few numbers, and the Festival Theatre Silver Jubilee Organ had a good workout under the fingers of Peter Kelsall, while the two clowns, Moose and Boppa, kept the laughs going. Santa, of course, put in an obligatory appearance to complete the cruise.
The audience had a chance to exercise their vocal chords, too, joining in on Joy to the World, The First Noel, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Jingle Bell Rock, Silent Night and, naturally, ending the night with The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Sadly, nothing good lasts forever, and this wonderful night drew to a close, sending a happy and smiling audience away filled with Christmas spirit. Next year there will be a few extra performances because the Proms will be held in the smaller Her Majesty's Theatre. As always, this is one to book for very early.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.