‘Never Before Musical’ // Ho Hum

‘Never Before Musical’ was energetic.

Ho Hum brought their A-Game back to this year’s Brisbane Improv Festival, hosted at Big Fork Theatre in Fortitude Valley. After a fantastic 2021 production, the critically acclaimed ‘Never Before Musical’ returned for its second year.

Improv is the art of creating art from scratch with no prior preparation; television examples include shows such as ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ and ‘Thank God You’re Here.’ Improvisation is one of the hardest exercises for actors to execute well, and Ho Hum came up with scenes, musical and dance numbers.

The group’s hilarious signature show, ‘Ho Hum Musical Improv’, has been presented around Brisbane for the last few years. Audience members were welcomed to shout out themes for a potential musical that this improv troupe was to perform. On this occasion, the intriguing theme of “ReGrowth” was selected by the audience. This began an hour of hilarity, love and fantastic improvisation.

‘ReGrowth the Musical’ followed the story of Candy, a hair model, who joined the industry in 1983 with a dream of earning $2,000. The villain of the piece is determined to make “actors with hair” to replace those like Candy. Interwoven through this superb piece of improv was love between villains, a sandwich-making artist, an agent who was sick of the industry and beautiful metaphors. After all, the best “ReGrowth” is love!

Improv is such an ensemble sport with every actor playing a part to move the story along. Mandy Plumb played our Candy, the aspiring Pantene model. Plumb was instrumental in this story and brought fire and punch to the production. Anne Pensalfini was the hard-hitting talent agent. Pensalfini was nuanced and a perfect juxtaposition to Plumb. Pensalfini was grounded throughout their performance and clearly has many years of stage experience. Adam O’Sullivan was the villainous tech mogul and was a star of comedy in this production. O’Sullivan broke the fourth wall many times, drawing the audience further into the production. Ollie Windsor was utterly hilarious as O’Sullivan’s henchperson. Windsor played up the part of the lady henchman who falls in love with the villain (think Plankton & Karen from Spongebob!). Windsor was witty and sassy, which worked ingeniously for the production. Glenn Seaby and Brad Daniels played the sandwich shop owner and friend. Seaby and Daniels played off each other fantastically; the audience could see the fear in their eyes when they started to list their favorite things from 1983. It wasn’t an easy task but both actors pulled it off superbly.

Mark Grimes as accompanist and musical director was a fantastic player who brought ‘ReGrowth’ to life, perfectly underscoring the musical. Like the cast, this accompanist also had to improvise their piano playing to ensure the story flowed. Grimes created music that intricately fit in the story and helped our actors to develop their characters.

Overall, ‘Never Before Musical’ presented by Ho Hum was a fantastic night out filled with fun, hilarity and “ReGrowth”. This is an improv company to watch out for with talented cast and creatives who are a force to be reckoned with!

Brisbane Improv Festival ended on Saturday 19 November 2022 at Big Fork Theatre. For more information visit their website.

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