Fresno: In Concert

The Butterfly Club Fresno In ConcertFresno: In Concert is best described as the brainchild of Sondheim if he had written a Cheers musical in the style of Come From Away – a wealth of cliché characters singing about love, hope, nostalgia and all set in a run down classic Irish American bar.

And yet, somehow, all these threads come together to weave a surprisingly interesting, joyous and explosive tapestry of talent and musical prowess.

Formatted as a concert version of the latest stage in the work’s development, Fresno: In Concert allows the audience an insight, not only to a showcase of songs and fragments of storylines, but how the work came to be in the first place.

Josh Connell and Jeremy Harland cleverly break the fourth wall and integrate their musings on how the show came to be, what the story needs and where the cast of characters could go next, right into the design of the concert.

Connell and Harland are spectacularly talented – masterfully creating songs and narratives that are rich in emotional weight and whimsy and characters that, though cliched, are deeply likeable, bursting with a kind of charm that leaves the audience completely invested.

Each song has been written with a classic musical theatre feel, reminiscent of old school story driver songs rather than the clunky interludes shoehorned in that do little for the narrative.

Jackson Cross, Naomi Leigh, Will Moffat, Jo Jabalde, Tristan Sicari, Rony Olesh and Lachlan Edis, as well as Harland and Connell make up the work’s extremely talented and cohesive cast, with each bringing powerhouse vocals, symbiotic harmonies and an overabundance of glee to the stage. Audiences would be hard pressed to find a more expectational ensemble of soon to be discovered performers.

Fresno: In Concert is a perfect showcase for each creative involved in this piece, especially Harland and Connell who have a bright future ahead of them crafting exciting musical theatre.

It would however be remiss not to mention that though Fresno: In Concert is a brilliant showcase, chasing a great American songbook style of musical wastes their talents when they could be better served finding their own voice.

Fresno: In Concert
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Performance: Monday 4 March 2024
Season continues to 9 March 2024
Information and Bookings:

Image: Fresno: In Concert (supplied)

Review: Gavin Roach