Music By PETER RUTHERFORD
Book & Lyrics By JAMES MILLAR
Thursday 24 June to Sunday 11 July 2010
||David Harris, Amelia Cormack, James Millar, Sophia Ragavelas and Peter Rutherford|
|Musical Director||Peter Rutherford|
|Choreographer||Nathan M Wright|
|Costume Designer||Matthew Aberline|
|A/V Designer||Richard Neville|
|Lighting Designer||Ross Graham|
|Assistant Director||Nick Christo|
Lovebites | Onward Production
Written by Julia Hern
Monday, 05 July 2010 00:36
Left: (l-r) Sophia Ragavelas, James Millar, Amelia Cormack and David Harris
Standing in the bar after the performance, my friends and I threw around adjectives in an attempt to harness our reaction to this show. Words like refreshing, delightful, surprising and clever were heartily agreed upon, and our emotional and intellectual responses to the production fuelled some lively, fun discussion.
Lovebites is a series of 7 stories told through a catchy and beautifully written song cycle. 2 male and 2 female performers play all the roles in the scenarios which are told from one character’s perspective about the discovery of their love, and then embellished in Act 2 when we hear from their other-half about how it ended up. There is something for everyone in this colourful and inspiring collection that doesn’t dodge the awkward moments or taboo issues. The final song, “Love, bring me some water” was perfectly imbued with enough passion, forgiveness and hope to warm the most jaded and closed heart.
Written by James Millar and composed by Peter Rutherford, Lovebites encapsulated their intention to say something different about the changing nature of romantic love in each of the relationship snapshots. In doing so, there was something so engaging about the performance in that we could all relate to one or many of the characters we saw on stage. The themes of loyalty, infidelity, homosexuality and commitment were just some of the many issues raised between the couples.
Although it is terribly difficult to pick a standout number, “A Plastic Bag” which plays out and then provides closure for a widely told urban legend had the audience in complete stiches, and the cleverly incorporated adaptation of “Sweeney Todd” was most amusing. With that said though, every scene was memorable. The characters and feelings were so accessible that each moment was engaging to watch. The music was so beautifully written and the lyrics so inspiring that several of us purchased the soundtrack on the way out.
Vocally, the cast (James Millar, Amelia Cormack, David Harris and Sophia Ragavelas) was flawless. The harmonies were tight and the diversity was quite astounding. All four singers were equally capable of “rocking out” as they were singing exquisite, classical arias. This range was required for the production, which utilised a wide variety of styles to tell the love stories. With only a piano as accompaniment, one may have thought that the sound may have been a little bare. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, as the piano and four singers created a full texture and well balanced sound.
The set was a design and directive coup. A stark white stage with two multi-functional, 3-sided boxes and two small benches were all that was required to create each scene. The choreographed movement of these set pieces was done by the cast with swift precision and the visual backdrop enhanced the setting and atmosphere of each scene.
Although it was performed with Australian references and natural Aussie accents, this show would be easily transferrable to any culture, with a couple of people suggesting it would be perfect for off-Broadway. However, it’s on at the Playhouse now and closing at the end of this week. I would suggest that writing, production and performances of this calibre make Lovebites a show not to be missed.
Onward Production presents
by James Millar and Peter Rutherford
Venue: Playhouse Theatre
Dates: 24 June - 11 July, 2010
Tickets: Standard $45.00, Concession $37.00, Students $19.90, Children Under 12 Years $9.90
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing 9484 1133
Theatre Review: LoveBites
ROSALIND APPLEBY, The West Australian June 28, 2010, 11:30 am
By Peter Rutherford and James Millar
Cold winter evenings make it harder to muster enthusiasm for a night out but the Peter Rutherford (music) and James Millar (writer) production Lovebites is worth the effort.
If you want to roar with laughter, shed a tear, have a hot date or a philosophical muse, then start rugging up because this show ticks all the boxes. Lovebites is the duo's second collaboration and features the same cast that premiered the show to rave reviews in Sydney last year.
A simple set of white wooden frames is manoeuvred to evoke everything from abseiling cliffs to a florist shop as seven different couples reminisce about their first meeting. Projections on a backdrop add atmosphere but the characterisation comes primarily through the impressive singing and acting skills of the four actors.
The multi-dimensional Millar is joined by Amelia Cormack, David Harris and Sophia Ragavelas, all equally comfortable singing, dancing and flirting. Millar's snappy scenarios include a one-night stand, a Facebook romance, an air hostess liaison, a delivery man and a book club and the stories unfold with big dollops of humour, pathos and remarkably few cliches.
Rutherford's music is key to the coherence and dramatic punch of the production. Each relationship snapshot is introduced by a comic pre-recorded "jingle" establishing riffs that develop as the scene progresses.
The book club meeting of two gay men is punctuated by a comic "tick-tock" theme and a hilarious sketch "beware the tale of Annie Pluck" references Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. The deeply moving death scene is constructed entirely around a poignant solo beautifully delivered by Cormack.
After interval we hear how the relationships have developed - happily ever after or otherwise, with a few surprises along the way. The opening night audience joined in the concluding chorus. This was followed by a more serious hymn to love that met with cheers of approval.
This is a must-see, a reminder that culture always wins over comfort, even in Perth's cold spell.
Lovebites runs until Sunday.