Strictly Gershwin

Artists-of-the-Queensland-Ballet-in-Strictly-Gershwin-photo-by-David-Kelly-PhotographyWonderful. Glamorously, gorgeously wonderful! A delicious feast from start to finish. Expertly prepared and delivered with class.

When the curtain lifted on opening night, I was delighted to see our state orchestra on the stage instead of beneath it. A full-size symphonic orchestra to be both seen and heard!

For me, that was an integral element of the fascination I felt as the performance unfolded. I’m immensely proud of the calibre and versatility of our Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Reviewing ballets and musical productions, I am acutely aware of the orchestra I am listening to but cannot look at. During Strictly Gershwin, I could do both.

Guest conductor, Michael England with his own smooth moves, blended in beautifully with the dancers. (I’ve Got Rhythm). Prior to his early death, George Gershwin composed and compiled some ageless musical works.

The Gershwin Brothers contributed extensively to the ever-evolving music scene in America. The silver screen, the Golden Age of Hollywood. The stages of Broadway. They traversed genres, styles and times. That was aptly captured in the photographic displays on the backdrop screen.

Ballet, tap, ballroom, jazz, big bands. George and Ira had it all covered. The evening was an incredible tribute to, and celebration of their legendary status.

Their songs are renowned. Select numbers were beautifully sung and harmonised by the four guest vocalists. Nina Korbe (soprano), Naomi Price (mezzo) and tenors, Luke Kennedy and Ben Mingay.

Queensland Ballet, on the night, clearly demonstrated the diversity of their abilities as professional dancers. They swapped shoes: appearing in pointes, taps, heels, Can-Can boots, and even rollerblades. Outstanding, energetic, powerhouse performances from the Tap Artists, Bill Simpson, Kris Kerr and Rachael Walsh.

The American in Paris segment unleashed all the joy and artistry of a French carnival. The stage became a delightful bustle of dancers, marchers, bicycles, prams and rollerbladers. Somehow, amazingly, it was all choreographed to avoid collisions.

The evening gowns were divine. Every costume change for every character brought even more magnificence and glamour.

Amidst all the joy-filled wonder of the evening, it’s sad to realise that Strictly Gershwin is the second last ballet to be artistically directed by Li Cunxin. His ballet company did him proud.

Back to the orchestra- after the theatre doors have opened on a performance night, if the musicians completing their tuning, ever see a lady peering into their pit – it’s probably me.

Strictly Gershwin
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Performance: Thursday 28 September 2023
Season continues to 7 October 2023
Information and Bookings: for details.

Image: Artists of the Queensland Ballet in Strictly Gershwin – photo by David Kelly Photography

Review: Michele-Rose Boylan