SHOW AND TELL
DIRECTOR: Paul Griffiths
CAST: Michele Maxwell and Roland Perold
VENUE: Kalk Bay Theatre
UNTIL: May 31
BACKSTAGE musicals like Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat and 42nd Street attest to the success of a recipe that offers an insight into the vicissitudes and occasional misery behind the glamour of show biz.
This is the stuff of which Show and Tell, featuring Michele Maxwell and Roland Perold, is made, and as such it has the potential to delight audiences who enjoy light, lyrical standards from popular shows.
The darkly sophisticated set (a sleek baby grand and some touches of red to add a sense of drama) provides the perfect backdrop for the action; lighting on opening night was erratic, but this is a flaw not likely to be perpetuated during the show’s run. Maxwell and Perold are costumed with conservative elegance that does not distract the eye from their performance.
Ironically, both artists show to best advantage singing separately rather than in duets. Both play the piano with skill and confidence, and both – particularly Maxwell – have the personality to please an audience, but when singing together Perold’s vocal prowess is totally eclipsed by that of his fellow performer.
This is a major drawback in a two-hander depending on rapport between the executants as well as performances that match and complement each other. That said, there is no lack of pleasure to be derived from Show and Tell: a highlight is Maxwell’s poignant rendition of the Elaine Drinking Sketch, a bleak illustration of dependency on alcohol for confidence on stage, while her Falling in Love Again (à la Marlene Dietrich) is amusingly tongue-in-cheek.
The show’s prefatory medley raises expectations that are not always met: familiar favourites like Razzle Dazzle from Chicago, and There’s No Business Like Show Business , suggest an energy that is countered later by the depression of behind-the-scenes mishaps: failed relationships, substance abuse, self-doubt, divorce… showbusiness is not for the faint-hearted.
The stage relationship between Maxwell and Perold works well as long as it is confined to that of friendly artistic collaboration – for instance, when they trade biographical details concerning their involvement in showbusiness.
It becomes less convincing, however, when it ventures into the murky waters of romance between a young man and an older woman, and although of short duration, this sequence is possibly ill-judged and superfluous.
With tighter direction and some adroit editing, Show and Tell could turn into the quality entertainment that has become synonymous with Kalk Bay Theatre over the past 10 years.