Variety, a Kiwi Comedy is certainly a unique musical, and the Mill Theatre section of the South Canterbury Drama League is to be congratulated for putting on such a rollicking show. Written and directed by Catherine May Smith, this pre-Christmas production has an eclectic atmosphere – there’s almost a feel for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, plus slapstick and vaudeville. Ms Smith has obviously trained her cast and backstage to make this a fast-moving and highly colourful comedy. The plot is whimsical, with two competing prima donnas in a quasi-political local milieu creating the sparks to generate the song and dance routines that enliven the stage.
And here is the flair of Matt Deavoll, as music director. To have a dozen actors belting out such numbers as Poi-e, Hit me with your best shot, and I see red, is quite an accomplishment, particularly when tight choreography is involved too; the resultant items come with good volume, clear enunciation, and relentless movement. Stealing the performance are Molly Callanan as ambitious Moira, and Ben Donaldson as the sultry Shirly Templesmith; each has a commanding stage presence and voice, and their acolytes reinforce their dominance. Yet the supposedly lesser characters have their own important parts to play –Stevie Gallagher, Bethany Cootes, Miranda Burrell and Victoria Chappell give lustre to Ben, their lord and master, while Vanessa Fleming, Annette Farr, Viv Leslie, and Maree Casey similarly endow Molly’s status. Andrew Robb as Moira’s partner grows in stature, and Nathan Butler is once again a real trouper, set against Shirly.
The ensemble is exceptionally well costumed, and the wide stage setting, with multiple doors and clever lighting, gives them all scope to display their talents. An appreciative opening-night audience, with whom there was occasional interplay, roundly applauded the efforts of Ms Smith’s work. This is a light-hearted comedy, suited to all, and fully deserving Timaru support.
– Gordon Prowse, reviewer