ArtsHub Review: Song Contest — The Almost Eurovision Experience

Image: The cast of Song Contest: The Almost Eurovision Experience

If anything in modern culture lends itself to severe parody, it is the Eurovision Song Contest. Combining over-the-top stage concepts with equally over-the-top songwriting and topped with such intense competition between the nations, it practically is already a parody of itself! So, with the bait in place, producer/director/actor and comedian Glynn Nicholas gives us Song Contest: The Almost Eurovision Experience which strikes and devours its target with en pointe precision. Don’t think for a second you won’t join in — no matter hard you resist. You will, oh yes, you will…

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This is the anti-Eurovision and it is a delight to see all the outrageousness skewered so mercilessly and with such skill.

Each country vies for the title with the same vigour as if they were all still at war. The audience votes for their favourite country and the winner changes every night. And damn do they try desperately to win you over. I got the UK, and sure enough the UK won that night — and no wonder: ensemble members Jacob Darby, Elise Brennan Jessica Lindon and Tehya Nicholas were amazing, repeating their segment twice. The marvellous (on stage and off) Bev Killick as the host Bettina Bitjakokov is an absolute standout together with the terrific Iva played by Julie Sharp.

Though the jaw-dropping stage design and costumes by Richard Jeziorny that make a Miley Cyrus concert look subtle, it is a thrill ride of all-consuming silliness. Every cringe-inducing humiliation, every desperate attempt to win the title is played up to maximum effect. Too far is not far enough and the cast know this, as they exude enough energy to power the city for a decade. Nicholas shows his deft hand at guiding the whole ship making every line crackle like fireworks.

Choreography by Jason Coleman and Yvette Lee is vibrant and tight as a drum, while song numbers keep the wit coming and the toes tapping. The stunning digital visual work by filmmaker Katrina Mathers (assisted by Zev Howley) is strikingly good and enhanced each savouring moment.

Don’t expect to stay quiet for this one, let Nicholas and co. dazzle you with this clever, naughty and delightfully cheesy night out. A breathless and infectious homage to Eurovision. Must not be missed, see a cult hit in the making — you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 5 stars out 5

Song Contest: The Almost Eurovision Experience
 Director/Executive Producer: Glynn Nicholas
 Co-Producer: George Muchnici
 Associate Producer: Sam Hawker 
 Associate Director: Jason Coleman 
 Music Direction: Dare Music 
 Choreographers: Yvette & Jason Coleman
 Set & Costume Design: Richard Jeziorny
 Lighting Designer: Stephen Hawker 
 Suond Designer: Greg Ginger 
 Music Production/Arrangements: Dare Music 
 Digital Media Producer: Katrina Mathers — Cherry Hands
 With Bev Killick and the Almost Eurovision Experience Ensemble 
 
 Alex Theatre, St Kilda
 
www.songcontest-musical.com
 1 April — 01 May 2016

First published on Wednesday 27 April, 2016

What the stars mean?

  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

Originally published at performing.artshub.com.au on April 27, 2016.

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