The symbols of theatre are two faces. Those centuries-old masks depicting comedy and tragedy. That’s fitting. Covers the whole spectrum of the world of theatre.
And here in Melbourne those arts are portrayed as well as anywhere in the world. One of my favourite places where this is all played out is the Comedy Theatre.
In recent weeks there, we’ve seen lots of emotions—including tragedy. It’s where Darryl Cotton chose to farewell this world. His coffin in front of the stage where he played the lead in Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat.
Years ago I was a stage door Johnny there when wooing Jacki Weaver when she starred with John Waters in They’re Playing Our Song. And nearly 30 years later I unexpectedly trod the boards there myself as the Narrator in the Rocky Horror Show. One of Ms. Weaver’s young alter-egos in that show was a lanky young singer named Rhonda Burchmore.
She was being pursued all those years ago by a bloke named Nikolai Jeuniewic. Nikolai is now married to the object of his affections and last night, he and and I were both in the Comedy Theatre audience as Ms Rhonda Burchmore took the stage in her own right. The star of a one-woman show, Cry Me a River – a tribute to the sulty Julie London.
I have to be careful because I am biased. I am one of the shows’ backers. I’ll let others pour on the superlatives. I’ll just say that Legs 11 [as she typically mocks herself] has come into her own. At last.
We saw some of the total Burchmore on stage in the Geoffrey Rush comedy hit calledThe Drowsy Chaperone. But for decades she has been dubbed a dancer – because of those gams. She’s a singer and a bloody good one. She was pigeon-holed as that crazy redhead on Hey, Hey, it’s Saturday. Seen a lot doing sassy, vampish numbers at charity balls, leagues’ clubs and on cruise ships.
Now she’s where she wants to be, should be and deserves to be. Rhonda Burchmore just captures Julie London and that smoke-filled world of jazz clubs. Speaking of jazz: it was great to hear a professional, live, big band on stage with some stunning arrangements from Ray Alldridge.
Cry Me a River is good. But then I’m biased. Have a vested interest. Ask somebody who was there.