The ever amazing Bernadette Robinson (Songs For Nobodies, Pennsylvania Avenue) dazzles and delights in this sensational new show the world premiere season of THE SHOW GOES ON
We are left gasping at Robinson’s incredible range and talent as directed with great polish by Richard Carroll. The show is a tribute to several divas of roughly the last 75 years – including Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Maria Callas, Shirley Bassey, Patsy Cline, Julie Andrews and Edith Piaf.
Under Carroll’s direction the show is terrifically devised and structured as a showcase for Robinson’s phenomenal talent and voice and her uncanny ability to mimic some of the greatest voices of our era. Her seamless, smooth technique is incredible.
Robinson is on stage the entire time, supported by a splendid band led by Martine Wengrow.
The set by Lauren Peters is modern minimalist – a chair, a tall standing mike, a stool, and footlights. The stage is divided into three sections by Trent Suigeest’s dramatic lighting. The different divas inhabit different areas of the stage.
Robinson is in a slinky long sleeved black dress with a soft roll neckline and a silver bracelet with black stockings and stilettos (shoes off for Piaf).
Most of the divas have monologues (Garland is featured more than most and in some ways acts as an anchor for the evening) and we learn about their lives and their relationships. The hard work it takes to get to the top (and stay there) is stressed as is their general feeling of a lack of self confidence (but that varies) – we see how they are all remarkable women who devoted themselves to their art and their audiences; who loved, lost and triumphed in public (and sometimes in private).
The sacrifices the assorted divas variously made are accentuated and their passion for music/art and why they took up singing mentioned. We also observe how some of them were almost broken by the fame they achieved. Their doubts and fears, at times great humour are interwoven in the dialogue with some of their greatest hits.
What is amazing is Robinson’s incredible range from the dark, yet crystalline clarity of Callas, the refined brightness of Julie Andrews, the impassioned, dramatic, intense earthiness of Piaf, the brashness of Streisand, Bassey’s sultriness … for each of them the timing, posture, gestures and phrasing are extremely different and vividly created. As Callas her Visi D’Arte is emotionally shattering, with hushed, stunned silence at the conclusion before she receives screams of Bravo from the audience ; as Piaf she is breathtaking in Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien. On a further note, the difference between the various diva’s ordinary speaking and singing voices is well delineated.
There are a couple of amazing ‘duets’ between Garland and Streisand (Get Happy/ Happy Days Are Here Again) and Andrews and Garland (A Foggy Day), Robinson effortlessly jumping between the two.
Robinson also appears as a theatrical like angel, so to speak, (herself?) providing a linking bridge between the various characters, observing and commenting on the diva’s lives and at the end bringing the show to a close with a powerhouse solo The Show Goes On.
Viva la Diva.
Running time 90 minutes straight through.
Bernadette Robinson in THE SHOW GOES ON is playing at the Playhouse, Sydney Opera House until 10th September.