Dominion Post Review- Ewen Coleman
An uplifting journey through cancer
Musicals are usually considered as light, bright, fluffy pieces of entertainment.
It is therefore rare to find one that is entertaining yet poignantly touching and very human. C – A Musical is one such show made more special by the fact that it is home grown, put together by local talent.
The C of the title refers to cancer, the plague of modern society that nearly everyone has come in contact with. And everyone also knows the highs and lows cancer patients go through from diagnosis, through chemotherapy to remission and often recovery – but not always.
It is therefore a brave soul who is prepared to put these experiences out there in the public domain but Paul Jenden has done just that. Having written the story and lyrics, Jenden is ably assisted with music by Gareth Farr that is at times buoyant and uplifting but at other times hauntingly expressive.
Jenden also directs and has assembled a small but stellar cast to take his audience on his roller coaster journey, and they do it superbly.
As the narrator Me (Jenden) Danny Mulheron is excellent, totally engaging, warm and full of humanity towards his subject matter. He is continually upbeat about the experiences of one chemotherapy session after another.
Jackie Clarke is The Voice Inside My Head, who expresses all his feeling, both light and dark, through song. Not only is Clarke a great singer but she is also a consummate performer who is able to express both the joy and the pain of the experiences through the lyrics and music.
Juxtaposed with Mulheron's character is Jane Waddell's Mum, also a cancer sufferer but one not so lucky to have recovered. Although Mum's poems were initially a little cheesy, the contrast between the two sufferers and their experiences was fascinating and worked extremely well. Particularly poignant was Mulheron describing seeing his father cry and in the final moments seeing the eerie figure of Louis Solino's Carcinoma lead Mum away into the darkness.
Mention must also be made of Sue Alexander's adroit accompaniment on the piano, which along with John Hodgkins' simple but effective set and Ulli Briese's very creative and evocative lighting turns a maudlin topic for a show into one that is uplifting and a great celebration of life.