Not only are we seeing the resurgence of the musical in theatre today, but we are also most fortunate to have a bunch of quality local new works in this country including the latest new Australian musical, Ned.
The iconic Australian expression and (possibly) Ned Kelly's last words "such is life" feature strongly throughout the lyrics by Adam Lyon, whose and original music taps into the Kelly's Irish heritage with many of its lilting melodies. Yet at times the music dramatically sets a powerful scene. And then at other times, we are transported to the Australian bush with the sounds of cicadas.
Central to the success of the opening night performance was Joshua McElroy in the leading role as the adult Ned. McElroy carries the transformation of Edward (Ned) Kelly as an actor with aplomb, and convincingly metamorphosed from loyal idealist to arrogant outlaw. Beyond each nuance of his acting, his vocal delivery and stage presence confirm his star position.
Another highlight of the show is the loyal and passionate yet reckless offsider Joe Byrne skillfully and believably portrayed by Guy Webster, with strong performances by Lincoln Elliot, and Martin Everett, along with Rowan Brunt as brother Dan Kelly, as the rest of the Kelly gang.
In the role as mother Ellen Kelly, Jodie Harris truly sparkles balancing love and nurturing, with a vigour and spirit of enthusiasm and determination, and an added sprinkling of humour. Her gestures, movement and voice, all perfectly formed, capture and keep out attention.
Kelly sisters Maggie and Kate, each in the own way receive outstanding performances when played by Cyrpianaa Singh and Siobhan Clifford.
Complimenting the rest of the mob, Courtney Powell gives an amazing and powerful performance as inn keeper Ann Jones, Jacqui Kennedy permeates the expectant Mrs Kennedy and Marcus Riviera has us cringing as Superintendent Hare.
And there's always a snake. If you know your history you might already know the name Constable Fitzpatrick. David Hov squeezes into the skin, through all the incarnations, as a perfect fit. Although his character is hardly likeable, his performance is highly applaudable.
In its first season Plush Duck Productions founder and Ned producer, Hamish Stening and crew have done an outstanding job for a fledging company. Movement and dance is rousing and appropriate although at times demonstrate the limitations of a first time choreographer. Overall the direction of Miranda Middleton though is a job well done and this show is well worth digging your hands in your wallets to buy your tickets.
With an orchestra on stage in glorious accompaniment, Ned: A New Australian Musical has a limited run at Newtown's New Theatre until Saturday 22 December. So be quick.
Tickets are available now here.
But mark my words, with good bones from an iconic story, supported by this terrific score, Ned (The Musical) is sure to resurrect himself before too long. Or let's hope so anyway.