06 March 2023

Mod, cool

Carnaby Street was the famous fashion street for '60s London and it was represented with a mock street sign on stage.  I was wondering about the other street sign, for Denmark Street.  I just looked it up and it turns out that it's famed for music and instruments and I actually remember visiting a bass shop there.  Small world!  The Queanbeyan Players presented Downtown! The mod musical at the Belconnen Community Theatre.   It had caught my attention months earlier for the great '60s female-sung songs that formed its core.  Downtown, of course, but others like You don't have to say you love me, Those were the days, To Sir with love, I know a place, Signs of the times, You're my world, James Bond theme, and perhaps two dozen others, not least several from Burt Bacharach, a personal songwriting hero.  The plot is five women friends and their experiences in love and the like in that era, linked with the song themes, eventually moving into the '70s and ultimately satisfied with their lives and memories.  Simple and satisfying and good natured with a fabulous sound track.  The five women appeared in colours, so Orange girl, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow.  They all read Shout magazine and variously asked advice from columnist Gwendoline Holmes, who mostly just appears as a voice over the PA.  There are 5 other women, "alternate colours", who appear on stage in black as dance accompanists and maybe cover for absences.  Yellow is an American over in London to chase Paul McCartney; Orange is married but with a cheating husband; Blue is gorgeous and wealthy and unhappy in life and love; Green is the goer; Red is young and hopeful but hopeless.  Their resolutions are stories of our times.  The instrumental music is provided by a band of drums/percussion and 2 keys.  I don't ever expect the supreme professionalism of pro-musicals but QP always do a great job and they did here.  I'd highlight some wonderful harmonies even if some high notes were a stretch at times.  Otherwise, the theatre of it was wonderfully effective.   I loved this show!  I must get to more musicals, but they are not all quite so pertinent to Megan and me.  As one cast member states at towards the end, this is the story of your wives or mothers or even grandmothers.  Too true.  BTW, this musical first appeared off-Broadway as Shout! The mod musical and is listed in Wikipedia under this title.

Downtown was presented by the Queanbayan Players at Belconnon Community Theatre.  At least this night, it featured Alaxandra McLaughlin (Orange), Kay Liddiard (Red), Emily Pogson (Blue), Hannah Lance (Green), Sarah Hull (Yellow) and Tina Meir (Gwendoline Holmes, voiceover).  Anita Davenport (director), Tara Davidson (musical director) and Laurenzy Chapman (choreographer) were backstage, and literally backstage were the band, Andre Le (keys 1), Adam Bluhm (Keys 2) and Jarrah Palenthorpe (drums, percussion).

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