Dynamic Performers Australia
James Mitchell Centre
By Lucas Ioppolo
I remained in Werribee for a change to attend the latest production by Dynamic Performers Australia, Kaleidoscope, a musical variety performance that revolved around the colours of the rainbow. Over the company’s seven year history, the Dynamic Performers have prided themselves in being one of the greatest rising companies/performing arts schools in Melbourne’s amateur theatre circuit and they have also proved to be one of the most inclusive and welcoming too. It doesn’t matter whether you’re aged four or seventy-four, cisgender or transgender, heterosexual or part of the LGBT community, light skinned or dark skinned, thick or thin, experienced or inexperienced, etcetera, you are always guaranteed the opportunity to shine on the stage and show the world what you’re made of and DPA’s Kaleidoscope was definitely no exception. There wasn’t a single person on stage or off who didn’t showcase the best of their abilities and it’s casts and production teams like these that really put the community back in community theatre and change the game for the better by reintroducing the original values our circuit built itself upon.
At the helm of the entire colourful project were the legendary Desmond/Beckitt dynasty who started the company, musical director Joseph Beckitt, vocal director Cassandra Beckitt, choreographer Carolyn Desmond and director Helenmarie Desmond and together, they continue to prove what a dream team they truly are with years of experience under their belt. Kaleidoscope may not have been their most challenging production over the last few years but it didn’t stop the Desmond/Beckitt crew from providing a night of pure and prestigious entertainment that quickly grabbed the attention of the audience with the showcase’s leading solo vocal performances, its choral harmonies and the company’s most diverse cast to date. These were only some of the factors that really made this production a true ode to not only colour like the music suggested but also to equality in one of their most moving outings in their history with no stone being left unturned and no group of individuals being neglected in the slightest.
Throughout Kaleidoscope, there were a lot of numbers that really managed to stand out with their overall performance as many told the story of the song so flawlessly while other pieces really set the scene for the overall tone and theme of the show and had everyone all in their feelings with each lyric sung. You were treated to such delightful DPA musical staples that the company has previously performed in earlier productions and revues such as How Beautifully Blue The Sky from The Pirates Of Penzance and the Academy Award winning Colors Of The Wind from Pocahontas with beautiful solos from Myfanwy Coghill, Madeline Hardie and Catherine Taylor with the uber talented ensemble backing them up. Still, there were quite a lot of songs that had never been performed by the company before that stood out just as much and some of the songs, for a DPA first, took some creative and more adult oriented risks with their repertoire that had never been seen before on their stage.
Starting the production off was a rendition of Joseph’s Coat from Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and although it wasn’t the most noteworthy number in the show, it really provided the perfect set up for what was yet to come and boy, did it not disappoint as the audience would be anticipating the next number by the time the previous song was over, wondering what beautiful message the lyrical story would tell next. Whereas the show’s grand finale, a full choir rendition of Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie provided a very poignant end to the show, acknowledging the deaf community with a breathtaking performance that was not only sung but signed, allowing the whole production to come full circle in its message of equality and self love. The adult members of the cast each took turns blowing us away with their vocal skills in every ensemble number, in particular their covers of Sting’s Fields Of Gold and Sunday from Sunday In The Park With George. These performances delivered goosebumps to the entire auditorium with some of the most emotional harmonies I’ve ever heard in an ensemble performance as they were heavenly, heartfelt and on some occasions, haunting while they inserted us right in the narrative of these songs’ lyrical content. Meanwhile, the younger members of the cast proved that they didn’t need to have the years of experience the adult cast had in order to have fun and put on a great performance with their group numbers, especially with standout ensemble pieces like Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi and Brian Hyland’s Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini. The former gave the audience a glimpse into the future our children will grow up in with a promising performance by the number’s lead vocalist, young Campbell Van Elst, while the latter dived in deep to remind us of the growing pains and puberty blues we went through in a cute little rendition of the early 60s novelty classic, resulting in renditions that were innocent, imaginative and illuminating.
One of the riskiest numbers of Kaleidoscope was a seductive rendition of Sam Sparro’s Black And Gold by husbands team Connor and Oscar Absolum and a team of backup dancers. Compared to well known X rated musical numbers from other musicals like Bring On The Men and Sweet Transvestite, this was incredibly tame, but it did add a sense of maturity to the family friendly company, demonstrating that they do have it in them to put on more adult focused musicals in the near future. The Absolums would also provide a funky rendition of Jason Mraz’s Geek In The Pink that really electrified the audience with not only their undeniable chemistry, but their vocal skills as well, especially when they were showcasing their respective rapping talents with incredible rhythm and flow that could make Mraz himself green with envy. The crown jewels of Kaleidoscope, however, lied within the show’s solo numbers as they provided such astonishing audience to actor intimacy with renditions that took us all up close and personal in every aspect. Some of the biggest highlights, were showcased through the artistic growth of Madeline Kaksa was clearly evident in her soulful rendition of the Nat King Cole jazz standard Orange Coloured Sky as she brought the house down with a classic and commanding performance. In addition, Madison Peake continued to prove her staying power in our community with a sweet and sensational rendition of Somewhere That’s Green from Little Shop Of Horrors. Dave Van Elst rose to the occasion with his rendition of Mika’s 2007 pop classic Grace Kelly and surprised the crowd with a falsetto range that was unique and unparalleled. And of course, Shayne Lowe and Maureen Andrew both reigned supreme as the queen of act one and act two respectively. Lowe’s cover of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors was nothing short of spectacular as her lullaby-esque vocals took us on a emotional roller coaster ride that spoke to everyone present in the venue to make a performance that was strong and stylish. As for her rendition of the Academy Award winning Over The Rainbow from The Wizard Of Oz, Andrew’s acting skills really made her commanding vocal performance ever the more convincing, taking us on the lyrical journey so magically and memorably through each note that came out of her mouth. She may have been performing to just one auditorium full of people about the land where dreams come true, but it felt like she was serenading to the whole world.
The Dynamic Performers may be one of the last remaining companies in Werribee but it’s cast and crew talents like these that can resonate with the amateur theatre community all across Melbourne and the impact they have made on our beloved circuit has been cemented far beyond the western suburbs with a concept concert like Kaleidoscope. It was a show that spread a loving message that humankind still needs more than ever, the company still manage to touch the hearts of the audience by welcoming us to the theatre world with open arms like a loving family and they deserve all the recognition they can get for the wonders they have done for an evergrowing community so that it’s future can remain evergreen. Special shoutout to Cassandra, Joseph and Alex Beckitt, Carolyn Desmond, Helen and Jalen Desmond, Alex Beckitt, Michael Blazely, Julia Campbell, Evynn D’Rosario, Katrina and Bridelia Gauci, Chloe and Sally Hanley, Madeline Hardie, Graeme Jackson, Madeline Kaksa, Shona Mercaldi, Madi Peake, Monica Reason, Brierley Smith, Kate Smith and everyone else involved with the production on such a marvellous one night only performance that will stay with the audience long after the final curtain falls. Congratulations to you all and I eagerly await your return to our stages in the new year for even more theatrical gold.
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About the Author
Lucas Ioppolo is a community theatre performer with a passion to bring a positive energy and encouragement to those in theatre who have gone unnoticed or underrepresented. He hopes his reviews can help bring the spotlight back to a community that has helped him throughout the years.
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