35MM: A Musical Exhibition - Flight Path Theatre (NSW)
Presented by Little Triangle Theatre Company. Directed by Alexander Andrews. Music & Lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville
Until 9th December, 2023
Due to illness in the cast and a re-shaped production, Theatre Thoughts has chosen to omit the star rating for this evening’s viewing of 35MM out of fairness to the creative team and cast.
- This is not merely a show; it's an immersive song cycle where every snapshot tells a story, and every story becomes a melody -
Hanging above the mostly bare space of the Flight Path Theatre sits a 3-D model of a photograph lens, Little Triangle Theatre Company invites you to be both viewer and subject, as audiences explore a musical journey through the lens of Ryan Scott Oliver's composition. This is not merely a show; it's an immersive song cycle where every snapshot tells a story, and every story becomes a melody.
With music and lyrics by Oliver, 35MM captures the era of musicals where song cycle formats were all the craze - see Songs for a New World and Working. There is no particularly clear story that weaves each song together, rather each captures a moment of life from human beings of diverse backgrounds, inspired by Oliver’s husband Matthew Murphy’s photography.
The cast of Little Triangle Theatre's production of 35MM: A Musical Exhibition. Images by Clare Hawley
Directed by Alexander Andrews, the musical has been reshaped to add more bodies into the space, each presenting all walks of life to share in the stories being told and the songs being sung. Andrews has assembled an absolutely stellar cast to belt a rather difficult score across the tight 80-minutes of the production. Each cast member brings their own embodiment of the stories being told, as The Observer (Kira Leiva, tonight played by Jenna Woolley) wanders around each story, capturing - quite literally - the imperfect perfections of human nature.
As the cast entered the theatre, the removal of shoes around the white, rectangular border gave the space a sacredness to it. It embodied the notion of storytelling and felt, to me, a nod towards the thousands of years of storytelling that have taken place on the land.
Whilst the lack of central story in 35MM asks you to listen closer to the stories, it can sometimes become tiring or repetitive, such is the nature of a song cycle. There are songs that stand out and capture every second in the space, whereas most can be quickly forgotten as the show continues moving from onward.
There are some secret weapons hidden throughout the cast as, due to cast illness, cast members had to take on new roles. Nina Carcione (The Lover) soaks up each and every moment she has on stage, whether singing or watching on as the ensemble. You can’t help but drift your eyes to watch as she acts, reacts and takes in every second of the moments in time. Her vocals in “The Ballad Of Sara Berry” were finely attuned to tell a raucous tale of high school manipulation at the show’s end. It’s not only after the fact I discovered this was only the third time she had sung it, taking on board Woolley’s role due to vocal rest.
...proof that live theatre in the independent sector is some of the most resilient and creative you’ll find.
On that note, having Woolley take on the role of The Observer in a silent capacity added an interesting new layer to the production as she silently watched and moved around each story being told. Hats off to Andrews for adapting to the changing nature of live theatre so swiftly to continue adding layers in order to, in quoting his words, “keep on creating, even when things get tough”.
Mikayla Burnham (The Sage) rocks the Flight Path Theatre’s foundations in her rendition of “Leave Luanne” as she transcends the production in her telling of a brutal story of domestic violence rich in blues and country folk tunes. Watching Burnham felt like time stopped for this number alone as the red hues of the space encapsulated fear and resilience throughout. Jack Dawson (The Angel) completely owns each and every movement he embodies, feeling entirely comfortable in the space, almost as if in a state of play in each moment. Izzy Hanly (The Seeker) and Oli McGavock (The Maverick) share an intimate moment of heartbreak that seeks to break the mould of stereotypical relationships in the anger portrayed. Brodie Masini (The Adventurer) leads the charge on the standout ensemble number “Why Must We Tell Them Why?” which itself felt extremely meta in turning the lens back at the creation of theatre and art itself. Aaron Robuck (The Dreamer) embodied his role perfectly in each interaction he had with the cast, offering moments of sincerity and kinship.
35MM is truly something different to the usual foray of musical theatre. Allow yourself to be swept along through each song and moment in time in its song cycle structure and you may just find moments of pure joy and elation. Led by clear direction and supported by an adaptable and stellar cast, 35MM: A Musical Exhibition is proof that live theatre in the independent sector is some of the most resilient and creative you’ll find.
35MM: A Musical Exhibition
Mikayla Burnham (she/her)
Nina Carcione (she/her)
Jack Dawson (he/him)
Kira Leiva (she/her)
Izzy Hanly (she/they)
Brodie Masini (he/him)
Oli McGavock (they/them)
Aaron Robuck (he/him)
Jenna Woolley (she/they)
KEYS Jeremy Kindl
DRUMS Austin Hall
VIOLIN Alec Steedman
GUITAR Aidan Brown
CELLO Jeremi Campese
BASS Chris Bouhabib
CREATIVES & CREW
DIRECTOR & DESIGNER Alexander Andrews MUSIC DIRECTOR Jeremy Kindl PRODUCER Rose McClelland STAGE MANAGER Hannah Ribbons ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR Nikolas Zielinski LIGHTING DESIGNER Paris Bell SOUND TECHNICIAN Daniel Baykitch PROMOTIONAL PHOTOS Bryan Ruiz Run time: 80min in one act. A lockout applies.
CW // A small number of musical numbers contain references to (without depictions of) abuse, violence, and death. You are welcome to step out of the performance space at any time, and return in the next applause break.
Ticket buyers will notice a donation option at time of purchase. This is completely optional but can help us recover approximately the approximate $2500 we are out of pocket for due to Meraki's closure.