‘Broadway to Pavarotti’ was powerful.
Soaring vocals and charming comedy combined for a perfect morning at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre with the 2020 Anniversary Tour of ‘Broadway to Pavarotti’. Presented by Queensland-based Vavachi Entertainment, ‘Broadway to Pavarotti’ was an opera and musical theatre spectacular, sung by three accomplished vocalists. In a delightful combination of songs from classic musicals and opera’s greatest scores, the production took audiences on a trip down memory lane, with plenty of heartfelt moments at every musical note.
In this special 2020 Anniversary Tour of ‘Broadway to Pavarotti’, the wonders and magic of the stage were celebrated. This particular production is a revamped version of the show, which is set to tour throughout Queensland. Vavachi Entertainment is well-known for their successful 2019 productions ‘Tenor Us’ and ‘Sensational Songs of the Stage and Screen’, which presented many musical offerings.
In the first half of ‘Broadway to Pavarotti’, iconic musical theatre was showcased with numbers from ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’, ‘Show Boat’, ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and many more. Reliving the golden days of Rogers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, there was a great sense of nostalgia in the theatre with well-chosen, rousing songs.
In the second half, the production explored the life of Luciano Pavarotti, one of the world’s greatest opera singers of all time. Performed by tenor Roger Davy, Pavarotti’s unique style and love for glamorous women flowed through renditions of his notable opera classics. Joining Davy were sopranos Meg Kiddle and Gabrielle Jack, all of whom are professional vocalists with repertoire and experience spanning many institutions and productions.
The technical aspects of the show enhanced the wondrous vocals and character on stage. Colourful, sweeping lights changed the mood between each song, reflecting the gothic world of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, or the bright countryside of ‘Oklahoma!’ (to name a few). Solo moments had singers engulfed in a spotlight, while lighting effects on the floor were pleasantly satisfying to watch. These effects did not detract from the performance, but rather complemented the story of each song.
What’s more, the sounds of the show supported the performers completely. Even though instrumental tracks were used instead of a live orchestra, the focus was drawn to the performers, with the music simply there to let their vocals shine. Some of the instrumental tracks, however, were muffled or had a blurred sound, which happens from the recording being dated or not ‘finished well’ on sound design software. This lessened the impact of some moments and made the music sound low in quality. Delayed sound cues also let down the overall sharpness of the performance, a problem encountered by the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre’s technical team.
A standout effect was the use of haze and smoke machines, which enhanced dramatic scenes within songs. It also emphasised Pavarotti’s big entrance and when combined with the colourful lighting, it was thrilling to watch.
The aesthetics of ‘Broadway to Pavarotti’ were simple yet graceful. Both Kiddle and Jack wore stunning gowns, while Davy stood out in a striking suit. The outfits were grand and elegant and added another layer to the sophistication of the performance. Setting wise, a grand piano rested crowd left. Baskets of reed-like flora decorated the space, with two on either side of the stage and one on top of the piano. This heightened the elegant intentions of the performance. Throughout the show, other set pieces joined the stage, such as a hay bale for musical numbers from ‘Oklahoma!’, to ably set the scene. As refined as the scenery was, it was not overly imposing, which again allowed the performers to keep the audience’s attention.
Transitions between songs eased into the next and basic blocking and movements let the emphasis be on the emotions behind songs. Highlight moments included ‘People Will Say We’re In Love’ (‘Oklahoma!’), in which the playful chemistry between Davy and Jack was well choreographed, and ‘Bill’ (Show Boat), where Jack sat wistfully at the piano. An audience member even got the chance to join in the fun for ‘Three Little Maids’ (‘The Mikado’) by dressing up in a kimono and singing along. In terms of musical direction, each song was sung traditionally or with minor adjustments to other keys to suit singers. The sound overall was powerful and precise.
In terms of the performers, Meg Kiddle was mesmerising as one of the lead singers, with a voice that effortlessly slid along her impressive range. Highlights included her lively and humourous renditions of ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ (‘The Laughing Song’) (‘Die Fledermaus’) and ‘Quel Gardo’ (‘Don Pasquale’). She also acted with wit and seduction as her character tried to win over Pavarotti.
Gabrielle Jack sang exquisitely and her skill was outstanding in a loveable rendition of ‘The Sun Whose Rays’ (‘The Mikado’) and ‘Champagne Chorus’ (‘Die Fledermaus’) alongside Kiddle. Jack’s personality and energy radiated across the stage, and through her investment in the stories. Her ‘transformation’ from a diva into a ‘prima donna’ added a dose of hilarity to her character’s storyline.
Certainly, the main event was Roger Davy’s impersonation of Luciano Pavarotti, which sent chills through the audience with quintessential songs ‘O Solo Mio’ and ‘La Donna Mobile’. Davy’s larger than life characterisation was a joy to witness. Audience members could tell this was his favourite part of the show and his enjoyment resonated throughout the theatre. Davy’s other notable moments included a gripping version of ‘Music of the Night’ (‘Phantom of the Opera’) and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ (‘Oklahoma!’), which was also accompanied by Kiddle and Jack.
Vavachi Entertainment’s tribute to classic musicals and opera greats has everything live theatre should – romance, charm and glamour. Through these themes, the production could connect songs, stories and facts about each period. For light-hearted, sweet-sounding fun, ‘Broadway to Pavarotti’ is a masterclass in musicality!
‘Broadway to Pavarotti’ performed for one performance only at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre on Wednesday, 26 February 2020. For more information, visit Vavachi Entertainment’s website.
Photos by Satiu Photography and sourced via Vavachi Entertainments Facebook page.