Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, September 5
If you’ve never previously found Gina Reinhardt especially amusing you will when you see this. Drew Forsythe in a black wig being Gina is worth working in the mines for, and is a highlight of this year’s Wharf Revue.
Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott must feel a certain pressure to maintain or exceed their previous benchmarks after so many years of mounting their yearly satirical show. Every show of this nature is going to have peaks and troughs to some degree, and in the wake of one or two editions that have been plagued by overly long flat spots this one is a resounding return to form.
While Scott remained part of the writing team he has taken a sabbatical from performing this year, his role at the piano taken by Andrew Warboys. Amanda Bishop is still on board, and Simon Burke makes an excellent and versatile new addition (including doing on-screen appearances as the awful Tom Waterhouse).
Beyond Forsythe’s unforgettable turn as Gina highlights abound. I have never been as convinced by Bishop’s portrayal of Julia Gillard as some (because of the wrong strain of strine), but this time she is brilliant delivering hilarious words to The Toreador Song (from Carmen) in a blazing red dress and equally bazing singing voice.
Her starring role in the finale as Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz vies with Forsythe’s Gina, her interaction with Toto the dog being especially notable. Here Forsythe is the Scarecrow (Bob Carr), Biggins the Tinman (Paul Keating) and Burke the Cowardly Lion (Kim Beazley), all off to see the Wizard (Scott on screen as Rudd) to find out what became of the brain, heart and courage of the Labor Party.
Another gem is Biggins in a white wig playing Julian Assange, and there are inevitable appearances by Abbott, Katter and crazy Clive Palmer as the show rips along without an intermission.
Those in charge of sound must be aware that the musical numbers are pointless unless we can hear every word of the lyrics well above the accompaniment. Frustratingly this was not always the case – hopefully just an opening night glitch.