Ellis Dolan. Star Theatres. 22 Oct 2021
Currently available during the last two weekends of October at Star Theatres on Sir Donald Bradman Drive is the poorly publicised Back to Back Short Show Festival. It’s a celebration of local talent conveniently scheduled so that you may attend two or even three one-hour cabaret-style shows back-to-back in one evening.
Ellis Dolan is a natural and easy-going singer eager to perform, so when the viral guillotine beheaded his gig touring with The School of Rock, Ellis found succor in his love of the music of the most important composer and lyricist of American musical theatre of the late 20th Century, Stephen Sondheim. I like Sondheim, too, but Ellis has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist, Look, I Made a Hat, which is the title of Sondheim’s collected lyrics from 1981 to 2011 with his commentary on creation thereof.
This is a most excellent show! While most of us learned how to use Zoom or make a coffee at home during the lockdowns, Ellis levitated his experiences and musings on life’s journey, loss of loved ones, and family friction by finding the perfect Sondheim song to express his fragility. Each song is introduced with a warm and honest explanation of his emotional match. It is poignant and courageous, and a compelling vulnerability.
You will not hear the usual Sondheim catalogue, but instead be thrilled with more quirky work. Sondheim’s choppiness and complexity is expertly rendered. Cadence, his accompanist, is another sweet person dressed in earrings and pearls to match their pearly grin. Their easy-going nature disguises the hard work in mastering the Sondheim keyboard, and the rapport between the performers is deep.
The Dolan hour is spent with a Sondheim singer, a comic, a philosopher and a friend. Bravo!
When: 22 & 29 Oct
Where: Star Theatres