Cry of the Forest and Once Upon Another Time

Cry of the Forest and Once Upon Another Time
Written by a team of experienced and apprentice writers. 60th Diamond Jubilee Melbourne Gang Show. Besen Centre, Burwood (Vic). Director: Robert Motton. Musical Director: Russell Corr. Music Arrangements: Russell Corr, Benjamin Moody, Stephen Smith, Roger Montgomery. Lighting Designer: Mark Hopkins. Set Construction: Malcolm Chatto.

Well now, this is one impressive show. How good? Let’s just say it leaves any amateur show I’ve ever seen for dead. Period.

Melbourne Gang Show’s 60th season consists of two one-act musicals. It opens with Cry of the Forest, a serious affair, with enviro-spiritual themes and enpoint ballet. Special effects include an illuminated ball, designed by the tech team, which changes colour with each change of hands. The comic scenes work best, and my personal highlight was The Washer Womyns’ Rag with energetic delivery and wonderful portable washing lines.

But lest you think Gang Show is solely a serious affair, the second act Once Upon Another Time is a barrel-of–laughs fairytale pantomime with jokes, puns, and slapstick comedy. Not even Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood or Snow White are spared. My favourite laugh-out-loud moment is a slow-motion sequence after Prince Charming fits Cinderella’s slipper.  

Visually it’s a smorgasbord. The attention to vertical interest is particularly impressive and includes a floating ramp (think Love Never Dies), characters abseiling into the audience, and giant-sized trees with branches moving as through they have elbows. I lost count of the number of flys dropping to the stage.

If this isn’t enough, (just remember its an amateur show), there is stunning projection onto transparent curtains and backdrop, top-notch lighting effects and some engaging song and dance. I have never before seen so many costume changes in a single show. No part of the auditorium is free from action with explosions in the pit and processions down the aisles.

Oh, by-the-way, the scripts and songs are Gang Show originals, and the show is accompanied by live musicians.

Melbourne Gang Show deserves to be considered as a contender in Melbourne’s amateur circuit awards.

Lucy Graham

Other Reading

60 Years of Melbourne Gang Show

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