By Talia Carlisle
Everyone is talking about 35mm, and it’s not a measurement, but a movement it seems, from the sound of new fans I’ve talked to.
35mm is a musical written by Ryan Scott Oliver on at Gryphon Theatre until Saturday, which incorporates music, original choreography and a live band led by musical director Jess Weston.
Show director Emily K Brown said this show inspired her to start her own successful musical theatre career back in her younger years, so to be directing it in Wellington is a dream come true.
Watching the show certainly feels like a fever dream, with no smoke machine spared, nor musical or dramatic opportunity left behind.
The show’s central performers do an incredible job to fill Gryphon Theatre as if it were an auditorium, and I would love to see them all perform in one, one day soon.
The sound by Jacob Cannell and lighting by Riley Gibson is stadium worthy and a true work of art, which impresses me more than the eccentric images displayed in the set – said to inspire the musical numbers throughout the 90 minute show.
The music is catchy, upbeat and passionately delivered.
There are beautiful harmonies, duets, and engaging group numbers performed by the spectacular core cast of Laura Gardner, Kirsty Huszka, Tara Terry, Marley Richards and Alex Rabina. Being a fan of Wellington Footlights’ work already, I have high expectations of the delivery and the energy and quality never wavers throughout the show.
Being a musical, it is key to get the sound balance right and the band delivers a top notch performance worthy of its own show.
The musicians and actors seem to have the time of their lives, dancing non-stop and singing their hearts out, no matter the different sounds or styles, their passion delivering a perfect package.
Being a small venue for such a large band and show is always tricky, as the music can make some of the singing hard to hear. This isn’t just the instruments, but each singer has their own style, worthy of a rock show, and memorable rocker Tara’s voice is quieter than the others’ but beautiful and worth hearing when it shines through.
It’s impossible to find anything to fault and I have heard only rave reviews for the show, so if you get a chance to see it, or Footlights’ future work, you’ll be glad you did.
I’m so grateful for their fearless drive to deliver quality theatre, when now more than ever we need to celebrate creativity, positivity and coming together in a world and government where arts need to be fought for.
Don’t be fooled by the catchy rock tunes, there are some serious themes in the show and a lot of death in particular mentioned, despite the show feeling very much alive.
The most moving is Leave, Luanne – a ballad about a women fighting the demons she faces being in an abusive relationship, and no matter how dark the content, I can only see the beautiful dance solo performed and choreographed by Margaret Hill shining through (with additional choregraphy by director Emily and choreographer Katty Lau.)
The finale is a delicious prom scene with special performers arriving in their gowns and STACEY O’BRIEN stealing the scene as they should as SARA BERRY. This includes cameos from director Emily, Margaret, Ella Dowsett Farmer and Julia McDonald, making The Ballad of Sara Berry easy to fall in love with and impossible to forget.
No creativity is spared, no costume unworthy of rock and roll, and every sound, sparkle and smoke machine poised ready to wow.
Thank you again Footlights for showcasing some fantastic talent and beautiful, fun writing that we have become accustomed to – or if you haven’t yet, don’t miss your chance.