Lately, I’ve been walking into performance spaces purposefully not reading programs, publicity, or any sundry blurbs and whatnot. Going into a show blind can be a great way to judge their storytelling as well as other qualities. The downside, however, is that sometimes you end up at a show expecting a musical version of Top Gun and instead get a musical about attempting to make a musical of Top Gun.
Top Gun! The Musical follows a troupe of performers and crew trying to get their musical adaptation of Top Gun off the ground. Unfortunately, they encounter more than their fair share of bogeys along the way, including actors’ egos, creative differences, funding problems, and licence restrictions (indeed, one of the comedic highlights was the quick pivot from the beginnings of You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling to something close-but-not-quite-copyrighted).
Accompanied by a spirited David Youings on keyboard, the cast were fine enough for the most part, although their lack of mics was an issue. Despite the Loft being the smaller of the two main spaces at Chapel Off Chapel, each actor at times struggled to be heard over the music.
Thankfully, Robbie Smith and Belinda Jenkin, playing Maverick and Goose respectively, held things together with fantastic chemistry and comedic timing. Helping keep the show up in the air was Joti Gore’s hilarious turn as Iceman, as well as Eilannin Harris-Black’s low-key Machiavellian stylings in her role as Charlie. Good support was provided courtesy of some fun performances by Guillermo Urra as Billy, Ashley Taylor as Wendy, and Ashley Weidner as one of the producers, The General.
Top Gun! The Musical was a haphazard comedy that didn’t always feel focused, caught somewhere between a meta-musical and something like The Top Gun that goes Wrong. Regardless, there were enough chuckles and charisma from the leads to ensure a good night out.
Top Gun! The Musical
The Loft – Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Saturday 21 September 2018 – 7.30pm
Season: 21 – 22 September 2019 (closed)
Image: Top Gun! The Musical – photo by Ben Fon
Review: David Collins