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Bloom - Melbourne Theatre Company (VIC)

Book by Tom Gleisner. Music by Katie Weston. Lyrics by Tom Gleisner.


Reviewed by Vito Mattarelli

A Melbourne Theatre Company production

Season 18 July to 19 Aug 2023


3 STARS


- An enjoyably new addition to the Australian theatre canon with uplifting messages and some stellar musical numbers -


The opening scene of Bloom brings together two vastly different characters: Rose an ageing ex music and French teacher who is forced into entering Pine Grove Aged Care, and the young charismatic Finn seeking out free board in return for light duties. Answering an Ad for the position, Finn is clearly unqualified, but is suitably likeable and very enthusiastic. These two find an affinity in music, and music becomes the key to bringing some brightness into the lives of the residents.


Within this aged care setting we meet a motley bunch of characters, some residents and some workers, led by the awful Mrs Macintye, whose sole motivation is to cut any corner she can to maximise profit and keep the inspectors at bay.


Photo Credit: Pia Johnson


In light of recent aged care failures and intense scrutiny, writer Tom Gleisner (The Castle, Utopia and Have You Been Paying Attention?) has moulded a charming comedy/musical that not only satirises ongoing issues the industry faces, such as providing good care, healthy meals and meaningful activities, but also shines a light on hopeful possibilities for better respect of our elderly and the power that music can accomplish.


The mood is mostly comic, with a troupe of performers (some playing multiple roles) all making the most of their moments. As the grouchy manager, comedian Anne Edmonds milks the physicality of the part and has fun delivering lines such as: “Everyone look caring – the Inspector’s here”.


Musical theatre favourites John O’May (as Roland the ageing thespian) and Maria Mercedes (as Betty who has a penchant for stealing and also appears as the scary Chef) are ably supported by Frankie J Holden, Jackie Rees, and Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, while younger cast members Vidja Makan and Christina O’Neill bring strong performances and great energy to the show.


Standout performances though come from the two actors that we meet in that first scene. The younger Slone Sudiro (as Finn) is exciting to watch, with a natural, very likeable stage presence. Evelyn Krape (as Rose) grabs the role of Rose as if it was written for her, creating a lovable, funny and very wise character.


Director Dean Bryant has staged the action well, allowing the characters and the text to come to life with the assistance of choreographer Andrew Hallsworth. An onstage band, visible in one of the scenes is led by Music Director / Arranger / Orchestrator Zara Stanton.


"...a very enjoyable ensemble piece with a huge heart, lovely performances and more than a few uplifting messages."

Bloom works well as a musical with a contemporary song list written by Katie Weston (music) and Gleisner (lyrics). Standout numbers include ‘Chasing the Clock’ performed by the staff and residents, ‘The Story of my Life’ about the memories of a younger life, Mrs Macintyre’s anthem ‘Everything I do (I do for you)’ and a soaring ‘The best is yet to be’ superbly sung by Vidya Makan.


Bloom may not set the music theatre world alight, but it is a very enjoyable ensemble piece with a huge heart, lovely performances and more than a few uplifting messages. The motto of the show could be summed up in the words of Rose: “You’re not as good as you think you are … but you could be”.

 

PERFORMANCE TYPES

by Vision Australia

Saturday 5 August at 2pm

Tuesday 8 August at 6.30pm


by Vision AustraliaSaturday 5 August, 2pm (Tactile tour commences at 1pm)


via screenSaturday 12 August at 2pm


by Auslan Stage LeftTuesday 15 August at 6.30pm


Relaxed PerformanceWednesday 16 August at 2pm - Visual Story


CAST

ANNE EDMONDS Mrs MacIntyre

FRANKIE J. HOLDEN Doug

EVELYN KRAPE Rose

VIDYA MAKAN Ruby

MARIA MERCEDES Betty / Chef

EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI'I Sal / Inspector / News Reporter / Trev

JOHN O’MAY Roland

CHRISTINA O'NEILL Gloria

JACKIE REES Lesley

SLONE SUDIRO Finn


CREATIVES

TOM GLEISNER Book and Lyrics

KATIE WESTON Music

DEAN BRYANT Director / Production Dramaturg

ZARA STANTON Music Director / Arranger / Orchestrator

ANDREW HALLSWORTH Choreographer

DANN BARBER Set Designer

CHARLOTTE LANE Costume Designer

AMELIA LEVER-DAVIDSON Lighting Designer

NICK WALKER Sound Designer

TASNIM HOSSAIN Assistant Director

MATT EDGERTON Dramaturg

JENNIFER MEDWAY Dramaturg

MATT FURLANI Voice & Text Coach

SOPHIE ALLAN Cello

EMILY CLARKE Reeds

TOM DOUBLIER Drums

KATHLEEN HALLORAN Guitar

ANN METRY Bass

KATE COLE Standby Cover

KEANU GONZALEZ Standby Cover

MILO HARTILL Standby Cover

TROY SUSSMAN Standby Cover

ANNE WOOD Standby Cover

VICKY JACOBS Standby Répétiteur

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