Cabaret Festival. Dunstan Playhouse. 10 Jun 2018
As if the 2018 Cabaret Festival could not glitter enough, here comes a huge sparkling diamond of a show.
Bosom Buddies is a delicious collaboration between two of Australia’s most adored showbiz stars: Nancye Hayes and Todd McKenney.
Between them, they brag, they have 90 years’ experience in musical theatre - 55 from Nancye and 35 from Todd.
They josh about the age difference. Ageless Nancye admits to being a “veteran”.
The old photographs, video clips and news clippings projected onto the screen of the Dunstan Playhouse tell their stories.
The two stars sit on in their named director’s chairs and watch with the audience. From family childhood snaps through to sizzling show numbers and awkward moments, their outstanding careers unfold.
Nancye soared to the bright lights when she was catapulted into the lead role of Sweet Charity in 1967. As she sees her young self on the screen, she comments on how she was awarded the role making sure that inspirational star Jill Perryman is accorded some credit. Nancye is not one to hog her own limelight. That’s the mark of a true star.
Todd's rise to stardom also was exceptional and many still believe that in his Boy From Oz performance he did Peter Allen better than Peter Allen. Ah, but when the show hit Broadway, his role was stolen by Hugh Jackman.
McKenney now can make fun of that loss which still has many of his fans hot under the collar.
But for him it is now a satiric song called It Had To Be Hugh.
These two luminous entertainers are mellow and giving. They tease and parry.
There are so many tales, so many songs, so many images.
The show is allowed only 80 minutes and they are arguably the tightest, most beautifully structured and honed, if not the busiest 80 minutes in showbiz history.
A lot of life and laughter is crammed in. There are show tunes. Nancye dances with the young Nancye on the screen behind her. She dances superbly. Todd also. He sings a duet with giant Peter Allen on the screen. He sings it with such depth of feeling that the whole audience turns misty.
With a creamy four-piece band beside them on a stage adorned only by the two director’s chairs and a side salon of armchair and coffee table with flowers, the twosome tell of the hard times, of tough breaks in childhood, of losing beloved family members. They tell of monster moments. They send themselves and each other up. Nancye corners the sweet man who was the nasty judge on Dancing with the Stars. Todd risks an ageist snipe at Nancye.
They sing and dance and sing and dance. They tap. They do a monster medley of show tunes, the “Medley from Hell”.
Todd demonstrates Auslan. He is patron to the Theatre of the Deaf. Nancye eggs him on to do some Auslan shtick as she sings the hardest of all songs to sign. He is beaten, but he gifts audience with a take-away signed word. The foyer later on is full of people practising and vowing ever forth to be using it.
But, in fact, the whole show is a gift.
It is a consummate piece of living-bio theatre, superbly devised by Peter J. Adams, directed by Jason Langley and performed impeccably by the two Australian superstars whose years at the top and in partnering roles have, indeed, made them Bosom Buddies.
It was an act of genius to create this show for it provides a precious slice of Australian stage history, live on stage.
The Cabaret Festival audiences were avidly aware of this and they grabbed the privilege of sharing the room and the histories with Nancye and Todd. They packed the Playhouse. They laughed. They cheered. They applauded, They stood in acclaim. And they left purring about the seamless professionalism of the show and the generosity of spirit of its stars.
When: 10 & 11 Jun 2018
Where: Dunstan Playhouse