‘Turn Up Your Radio’ was electric.
With a stubby in one hand and a snag in the other, patrons filed into Redcliffe Musical Theatre for an evening celebrating the best of Australian rock from the 70s to now. ‘Turn Up Your Radio’ has become a much loved annual event on the ‘RMT’ calendar, created by local guitarist Lachy Stewart and theatre president Madeleine Johns.
However, while patrons cracked their tinnys, snacked on sausages and sung along to the biggest hits in rock history they were also contributing money to the Australian bushfire fund. All profits from the show are being filtered directly into assisting the Australians who are rebuilding their lives.
The evening celebrated just a sprinkling of the wonderful art that has come out of this country. Complete with honorary anthems such as ‘Land Down Under’ and ‘I Still Call Australia Home’, it was an evening filled with goodwill, encouragement and classic Aussie spirit.
Sound design and operation by Peter Hurren and lighting by Jonathan Moss supported the talented musicians on stage and created an energy and ambience of its own. There was a strong use of reverb throughout the production which echoed the style of the older tunes and gave performers confidence as they rocked out on stage. The evening featured 13 performers of varying ages, voice types and styles which rounded out the evening and gave each audience member a song to bop along to. Mixing and microphone effects aided in allowing vocalists to feel confident in their numbers and helped to mask moments that lacked the vocal power often found in these bigger hits. The result was a subtle boost to the singer’s voices which allowed the songs to fill the room as opposed to disappearing on weaker notes.
The ‘Turn Up Your Radio’ band was tight, effective and nuanced, led by experienced musician Lachy Stewart. The band of four with Sarah Whiting on keys, Cale Tanker on bass, Andrew Hazzard on drums and Lachy Stewart on lead guitar followed singers perfectly while injecting their own personality into the iconic tunes.
Lighting design by Jonathan Moss added buckets to the already energised production and allowed the production to smoothly transition between heavy rock and soaring ballads. Complete with a star curtain, disco lights and aptly timed stage washes, lighting managed to transform a small tin shed into a rock concert.
The smoke machine added to the ambience of the show, however, was unfortunately loud and sporadic which distracted from the songs taking place. It was clear the tech crew attempted to time these moments to the beat of the tunes however the brief gust of smoke faded before its presence was particularly effective. It may have been better to use longer bursts of smoke during louder moments or omit it entirely, as the full lighting and sound design created more than enough ambience on its own accord.
Highlight performances came from Colin Rhys-Jones who not only delivered raw and powerful vocals but wholly engaged audiences with his captivating persona. Rhys-Jones performed classics such as ‘Little Ray of Sunshine’, ‘Shakin’ All Over’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and the showstopper number ‘Shout’. Meg Kiddle’s delivered a skilled rendition of Tina Arena’s ‘Chains’ which left audiences captivated and Jordan Smith had audiences in stitches with his version of ‘Eagle Rock’ and ‘TNT’. Smith backed up his electric personality with convincing vocals that mimicked the rock legends of the time. James Reid and Tony Ahchay should also be commended for their stellar vocal performances which showcased just how much talent is housed at Theatre 102.
Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s ‘Turn Up Your Radio’ not only delivered a bangin’ setlist but was backed up by wonderful performers, skilled musicians and a wildly capable tech crew. Audiences were dancing, singing and cheering all night long in classic Aussie spirit.
‘Turn Up Your Radio’ played for one weekend of shows, however, more is on offer by the theatre group. Head on over to Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s Website to check out what else is coming up.