This musical extravaganza from The Touring Company is an absolute must-see, with every moment of it as magical as can be. It is a sensory delight, with costumes, lights, set design and sound all perfectly presented.
While theatres across the world are closed, with opening nights a mere dream at this point thanks to Covid-19, audiences in Aotearoa don't have to dream, they get to see the very best of musical theatre live, in colour and in top form.
Producer Dave Spark has put together an amazing show, and with stage director Stephen Robertson and musical director Richard Marrett has created something that will stay with the audience long after the final notes of the encore are heard.
There aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to accurately describe the experience the show gives the audience, with one show-stopping musical number after another taking the audience on a rollercoaster journey through the very best of musical theatre.
With six well-matched, equally talented performers on stage for the show there was not one low point, but plenty of highs.
Paul Ross and Hayden Tee give beautifully pitched emotion to the beautiful ballad "Lily's Eyes" from "The Secret Garden", a musical which I really hope gets some stage time in New Zealand sometime this decade, especially if it can be cast to include either Hayden or Paul.
Beautiful emotion was also at the forefront of Emily Burns' performance of "Memory" from "Cats" with her voice seemingly made for the song, or the song for her voice, it felt impossible to know which came first in a way. That song was one of many in the evening to also benefit from clever backdrop design that really gave a feast for the senses. Throughout the show the lighting and set design was a visual feast that would have eclipsed lesser performers.
There was no risk of that in this production however, with every one of the six performers having the opportunity to show exactly why they are so successful in the business thanks to great songs that reflected their range, talent and sheer star quality.
Akina Edmonds has an unquestionably soulful voice, and her rendition of "I Know Where I've Been" from "Hairspray" was something I could listen to on repeat and never tire of hearing. It was the perfect way to end the first half of the show, although I found myself wondering how they could possibly keep up the pace and standard for another whole act.
I needn't have worried however, as the second number in the second act was the comedic brilliance of "The Smell of Rebellion" from "Matilda". This song, with a backdrop that demanded almost as much attention as Hayden Tee's talent, was one of only two comedy songs in the show, and provided some welcome relief from the sheer emotion of many of the other numbers.
Hayden took on the challenge of the vocal acrobatics this song requires and set a new high standard for future performers in the role of Miss Agatha Trunchbull. Hayden also performed the other comedic number contained in the show, where he donned drag to perform "Take It All Off" from "Jerry's Girls". While it is undoubtedly a funny song, and he is undoubtedly a talented comedic actor, he also gave this song the haunting sadness it needs to take it from being simply a funny song, to the sad song about cruelty and ageing it really is. It's sad, it's funny, and it is one of many high points of the production.
Talking of highs, both notes and standards, Verity Burgess hit them as she joined Paul, Hayden and Jack Fraser on stage to give a performance of the title song from "The Phantom of the Opera" that left chills down the spine. Again the lighting design team excelled, creating a set that was as breathtaking as the voices of the quartet themselves.
Jack's talent was best showcased in two very different songs in this production. From the energy of "We Are The Champions" from "We Will Rock You" in which he completely owned the song, the stage and the audience, to the powerful mid-tempo song "Oh What A Circus" from "Evita", he was flawless in his execution.
With so many highlights, so many amazing songs and fantastic performers, this show is the one thing you must see this year. It is a beautiful and exhilarating celebration of all that is great in musical theatre and Aotearoa's talent.
Go see it, and enjoy the absolute best night out you can possibly have.