Unlike most parodies, Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody hits the ground running, working on the assumption that the audience is up to speed on the core characters and the world. The story is whip smart and extremely clever in how it playfully takes swipes at the Potter universe while establishing its own brand of sass.
Soon the audience is introduced to our many many many madcap troop of characters – some new and some familiar, but not as we may come to know them. Each character is an archetype, each a cliche and each, delightfully odd. It is our cast of misfits that drives the performance forward and gives weight to the sometime thin and convoluted storyline.
Written by Los Angeles based comedians Zach Reino and Chris Grace this parody has all the feel of a rock opera, mixed in with the pace and wit of a fringe show. The writers often lean too heavily into the fringe format with a lot happening at a very fast pace, which often means the script is bulked out with unnecessary crude humour, intended to get a laugh fast and move on.
The ensemble of Alex Donnelly, Ellis Dolan, Jay Haggett, Emily Hansford, Stephanie John, Mel O’Brien and Jonathon Shilling are astonishing. Each one is a stand out and each one fully commits to their character and the world they are building.
Just when you think you have found your favourite ensemble member, another comes along to hit a flawless note or nail a well executed high kick or flash a cheeky side eye to grab the audience’s attention. Scene stealers they all may be but they are an extremely generous and in-sync ensemble that work symbiotically to achieve one collective goal: a bloody good show.
Miranda Middleton directs and choreographs the work with a deft hand – the energy is high, the fury on stage is sharp and the performers are kept in line with a sturdy vision.
Middleton understands the world of parody, giving the performers just enough rope to improvise with each other and tease the audience while still managing to create some very touching and rather emotionally raw moments. There were a few rocky patches in terms of pacing and momentum, which did mean that the already overstuffed script became just a smidge difficult to follow.
David Youings musical talent knows no bounds. As the production’s musical director Youings seamlessly eases the work from one note to another, blending a wide range of musical styles under one roof. Youings allows the performers to shine, complementing their voices while leaning heavily into the ensemble feel of the work.
The design team of Madeline Nibali and Caidan de Win create a wonderfully simple but detailed world for the performers to play in. Subtle and sumptuous costume designs perfectly capture the depths of the characters and help to add gravity and fun, while the lighting playfully moves the story around the space like a master chess player shifts their pieces around a board.
Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody is a welcome addition to the Melbourne theatre landscape, an uplifting night out to scrub away the anxious remnants of 2020 and get audiences energised for a much more raucous 2021 (fingers crossed).
Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Thursday 18 March 2021
Season continues to 10 April 2021
Information and Bookings: www.theatreworks.org.au
Image: Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody – photo by Aaron Walker
Review: Gavin Roach
Note: Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody is not authorized, sanctioned, licensed or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. or any person or company associated with the Harry Potter books, films or play.