During the 1970 Academy Awards, there’s a wonderful moment between Fred Astaire and Bob Hope. After some banter regarding Fred never dancing at the Oscars, Bob strikes the band up and the beat has Fred in its grasp. For a minute and a half, the 70 year-old icon that is Fred Astaire moves around the stage with the grace and invention that was a hallmark of a life spent performing.
Indeed, a similar invention is on display in A Fine Romance: The Magic of Fred Astaire. Joe Meldrum and Imogen Moore, backed by The Ben Taylor Jazz Trio, walk, dance and sing their way through Fred’s life and career.
Joe cuts a dashing figure, particularly in the latter part of the show when he emerged in top hat and tails. He handled the early solo material well, finding a good rapport with an audience more than happy go down a very kinetic biographical road with him.
Imogen had great charisma and a fantastic singing voice, working well with Joe to tell their story. Once both were out on stage, the show relaxed tremendously and this comfort only served to bolster the humour and audience engagement.
The Ben Taylor Jazz Trio – Ben Taylor (piano), Glen Davidson (double bass), and David George (percussion) – were exceptional, weaving a baby bear presence throughout – not too imposing, not too background, but just right.
Director and Choreographer, Jeremy Hinman, and his players have succeeded in not only reconfiguring the numerous routines to fit what is a small, odd-shaped space left for them (once a small bench, hatstand, piano, and jazz musicians boxing them in, are taken into account), but to also not make them seem cramped or stuck; splendid and entertaining work all round.
As Irving Berlin might say, “If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to why don’t you go where Astaire lives: A Fine Romance.”
A Fine Romance: The Magic of Fred Astaire
Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Tuesday 10 October 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 15 October 2017
For more information, visit: www.afineromance.com.au for details
Image: Joe Meldrum and Imogen Moore star in A Fine Romance (supplied)
Review: David Collins