Claire Trolio finds that despite a shaky start, Kiss: A New Musical is 90 minutes well spent.
Review: Western Sky Projects, Kiss: A New Musical ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 29 January 2020 ·
Review by Claire Trolio ·
With the current popularity of musical biopics on stage and screen, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Kiss: A New Musical might feature songs from that famous face-painting rock band, but this show is more Raising Helen than Bohemian Rhapsody.
Kiss is presented by Western Sky Projects, a young company championing musical theatre, and directed by Perth ex-pat Joshua James Webb. They’ve chosen a new musical by Greg Lavell, who plays piano in the show. It’s about life’s challenges and the paths we choose to take, with some songs thrown in for good measure.
Samantha and Samuel, a Carlton-dwelling couple in their late 20s, are on holiday in Europe when they find out that Samantha’s sister has fatally overdosed, leaving behind her teenage daughter, Lucy. Lucy moves in with the Carlton couple – a new beginning for the 14-year-old after living with a drug-addicted mother, and a fresh start for Samantha and Samuel, too, whose life isn’t as blissful as it might appear.
Kiss gets off to a shaky start with an awkward opening number. The content is confusing and last night’s performance felt under-rehearsed, with the three actors taking a little while to settle into their roles.
The script demands too much from teenage orphan Lucy, who yo-yos from naive optimist to troubled adolescent. Young actor Lilli De Nardi did well to tackle the role, but didn’t quite convey the emotional weight asked of her.
As Samantha, Gemma Sharpe delivered a lively performance with a good dose of humour in her delicate portrayal of a woman suffering with a mental illness. And as the show went on, Cal Silberstein commanded the stage with his presentation of downtrodden, overlooked Samuel.
It’s the songs that drive any musical, but in Kiss, the songs are a little lacklustre. There are two exceptions: Samuel’s frenzied solo about resigning from work is funnier than the subject suggests; and a number that paints the picture of Samantha and Samuel’s early days of courtship is tender and relatable. The music itself is very pretty – Lavell reveals his considerable talents in composition and performance. He’s accompanied by cellist Anna Sarcich, who also shines.
You may not be humming a catchy tune on the drive home, but with three flawed yet endearing characters and plenty of food for thought, Kiss: A New Musical is 90 minutes well spent.
Pictured top: When Lucy (Lilli De Nardi, left) is orphaned, she moves in with Samuel (Cal Silberstein) and Samantha (Gemma Sharpe). Photo: Dana Weeks.