La Beatles Boheme
by M.A.F
Reviewed on Thu, 19/02/2015 - 04:50am
M.A.F Total Reviews: 3
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Performance Review

Emotionworks ‚?? Cut Opera is a company developed by the very talented Julie Edwardson, a 2011 Green Room Award Winner who was herself an Opera singer and has performed many principal roles for Opera Australia. The concept behind Emotionworks is to combine different musical genres and vocal styles, like jazz, blues and rock, and then adapt them to world renowned operas with the hope that they will appeal to a broader range of musical tastes. Cut Opera condenses the lengthy operas to an hour, or at the most of 90 minute duration. The company prides itself on ‚??taking out the boring bits‚?? and believes that ‚??if you hate opera you‚??ll love this!‚?Ě

La Beatles Boheme is based on the opera composed by Puccini - La Bohème. Since its world premiere in Turin, Italy in 1896 La bohème has become one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide. It is a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter, in Paris (a then well known place for bohemian lifestyles) set in the 1840s. It is an opera in four acts and primarily focuses on the relationship between Rodolfo and Mimi, ending in her death, the almost mandatory opera, tragic ending.

The fact that La Beatles Boheme is also in four acts, unfortunately for me, this is where the similarity ends. The shows‚?? attempt to adapt a world famous classic opera to that of the lives of the four Beatles I believe just did not work at all. In Act one Rudolfo/Paul McCartney, (played by Hootan Shah), and Mimi/Linda McCartney, (played by Sheridan Hughes) first meet.

I will move on to the final tragic Act 4; the death of Mimi, in this contemporary adaptation of La Boh√®me, we see Yoko Ono/Musetta (played by Katy Turbitt), discover Linda dying in the street, the boys John Lennon/Marcello, (played by Martin Quinn) and Paul McCartney, whom had broken up with their partners in Act 3, were here reunited with their loved ones only to be cut short by Linda‚??s tragic death. Need I say more ‚?? it was wretched and a mockery of the private lives that were Linda and Paul McCartney‚??s.

From Act One I felt the concept just failed, miserably. There were two stages, one with drum kit and guitars, ready for a rock band to take the stage, and that was accompanied by a small round table with velvet red chairs, on the table were glasses and a bottle of whiskey, was this portraying the typical lifestyle of a rock band? Maybe that was the intention. The other stage was a mini amphitheatre; at the foreground was a large frame, hanging by chains from the ceiling, a well presented design.

The singing begins and we hear a mix of opera and Beatles tracks, short takes of each trying to intertwine, but I thought that the rock music was just an interruption to the opera itself, or vise versa. From the beginning it was just messy and did not blend well. This continued throughout the show and I felt it was all wrong. The performers‚?? opera singing was far better than their impersonation of the Beatles.

Most truly embarrassing and insulting was when the character Yoko walked through the audience onto the stage dragging Brian/Benoit (played by Dick Gross) by a dog leash in order to make John jealous. I believe this was trying to capture the popular myth that she was a manipulator and was the dominant force in their relationship and that ultimately she broke up the Beatles, this theme was carried throughout the show.

I was appalled, and what was worse was the costume worn by the character Brian, very short black leather shorts and a black leather singlet, unfortunately it did not suit the middle aged actor, it was ugly in appearance and the intent was in poor taste. The leather clad character pranced around the audience trying to entice us to wave our arms in the air and sing along to the famous lyrics of the Beatles songs. I felt like I was on ‚??The Loveboat‚?? or at a very bad theatre restaurant. Was this an attempt at humour? If so, it wasn‚??t funny.

Not only was it an insult to the Beatles legacy, but such a scene should never be associated with the beautiful work of Puccini. How could this possibly represent a modern day Benoit? And so Act 1 and 2 set the cynical mood, I really was afraid of what was to come. Tempted to walk out I persevered. Luckily there was an interval after Act 2, half an hour into the show; I did need a strong drink by then.

As grim as I sound I have to highly complement the beautiful opera singing, especially the girls, whom sang splendidly. Edwardson‚??s keyboard playing was divine as was the accompanying guitar by Woods and bass/harmonica by Sharp. Although the men‚??s costumes of thin tie and black suits were not quite of a sixties vintage cut, the ladies wore some beautiful sixties attire, and looked the part.

So Paris turned Liverpool and Puccini‚??s 1840‚??s bohemians turned into the Beatles just failed for me, as interesting as the concept may seem in theory. I am an Opera lover and don‚??t see the ‚??boring bits‚??, especially when it‚??s at a grand scale with brilliant costumes and a symphony orchestra. I also love the Beatles but the two did not go hand in hand, whether you love opera or not. The bad accents throughout, the bad wigs, bad costumes, namely one most atrocious one, and poorly played rock legends just resulted in a bad show.

Well the way it was promoted is really what you get, ‚??...this production will be cut down to around 90 minutes and have all the best Beatles songs mixed throughout. The tickets will be as cheap as chips and we are performing in a venue where you can actually buy chips. That is not your average opera house fare and we are not your average opera company. Come and sing-along to your favourite Beatles songs!...‚?Ě Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Story by LISA ROMEO for M.A.F


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About this Review
Publisher: M.A.F
What?: La Beatles Boheme
Where?: Prince Band Room St Kilda
When?: 31st Jan 1st March weekends only
Producer: Emotionworks - Cut Opera
Director: DEvised and Directed - Julie Edwardson
Performers: Hootan Shah, Simon Wright, Sheridan Hughes, Dick Gross, Martin Quinn, Wayne Cuebas, Katy Turbitt, Keyboard by Julie Edwardson, Guitar by Richard Woods, Bass/harmonica by Nigel Sharp
Satisfaction rating: Not Satisfied
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