Comedians Auditioning for Musicals

ACF-Comedians-Auditioning-for-Musicals-Michelle-Brasier-and-Ben-RussellIn character, Michelle (Brasier) and Ben (Russell) run the Regional Theatre Company. As this is so important to each of them, their divorce has been amicable. Together they preside over tryouts for the company’s annual production of Cats in Comedians Auditioning for Musicals.

The show had a sold-out run at the 2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Its inclusion in the programme seems a clever way to broaden the Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s appeal to an audience that’s younger, and maybe less interested in traditional cabaret staples.

Brasier and Russell opened with the confrontation of Javert and Valjean from Les Misérables. Their duet seemed to demonstrate the blend of intensity and hamminess they were looking for in their productions. They would not often be disappointed in this sometimes-chaotic cattle call.

Auditions employing songs from well-known musicals followed from a range of Australian comedians. The lack of an advertised line-up kept us sitting in anticipation. Some auditioners, such as Virginia Gay and Trevor Jones, are well-known for their singing, and found surprising ways to add comedy to their selections.

Reuben Kaye milked his time and went rogue amongst the audience. Zach Ruane (from Aunty Donna) revealed a hidden vocal talent. Some punters might be (just slightly) disappointed that the high standard didn’t deliver the failure reported in some reviews.

Fresh from two awards at MICF 2023, sensitive – if subservient – piano accompaniment (and some improvisation) was provided by Gillian Cosgriff, who was unable to sing as Michelle and Ben insisted that she should do nothing but the “plinky plonky”.

Thanks to our snarky hosts wrangling requests for special effects and egos (except their own), the show moved along at a good clip and earned some solid laughs from the Space Theatre.

It’s unfortunate that this was the only chance to see the show this festival. Many would find that Comedians Auditioning for Musicals provided a pleasing detour from the sometimes-serious business of Cabaret.

Comedians Auditioning for Musicals
Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Performance: Sunday 11 June 2023 – 8.00pm

Image: Michelle Brasier and Ben Russell (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte