“It was lovely” exclaimed one of the 200 grey brigade as she left the Theatre Royal on Friday night. THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was more than lovely, it was very entertaining.
The plot is simple enough, loosely based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager (before she married Bert Bacharach). Wisecracking reclusive (“You know you are unpopular when insurance salesmen stop sending you calendars”) composer (Vernon Gersch), meets insecure, flaky, effervescent lyricist (Sonia Walsk). After a short courting period (“Falling” and “Playing Our Song”), they decide to collaborate (“collaboration went out of fashion after World War II”) and move in together.
Their relationship undergoes some conflicts (“I work when I want to, not when you want me too”) between work and love so that, as Vernon says, “I don’t know whether I’m working with the girl I live with, or living with the girl I work with” but by the final curtain Sonia has matured into a self-confident lady, Vernon begs forgiveness, and they live apart, but happily ever after.
The quick repartee between the two characters was a bit like seeing THE ODD COUPLE (another Neil Simon comedy gem), set to music. Add the lyrics of one of the most prolific popular lyricists of the last 30 years in Carol Bayer-Sager, combine it with the catchy music of Marvin Hamlisch, and you have a night which will send you away humming.
THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was first shown in Australia at the old Theatre Royal 33 years ago when John Waters played Vernon, and the then singing and dancing ex Bandstand star Jacki Weaver played Sonia Walsk. In this revival, directed by Terrence O’Connell, Danielle Barnes loses nothing in comparison with the legendary Weaver. Her dancing would adorn any Broadway production and her voice was impressive. Scott Irwin played Vernon and while he was outshone by Barnes his performance was also very enjoyable.
The biggest negative is that the musical only runs in Sydney until Tuesday 7th May 2013. If you are doing something on Monday or Tuesday night that can be postponed grab the phone now and ring the Theatre Royal. You will be very hard to please if you don’t come out of the theatre saying that it was “lovely”.