The Wharf Revue 2019 started its run late this year, playing in Sydney near the beginning of its tour. The greatest disappointment for the revue is that we have a Liberal Party running the country again. All the larger than life characters tend to come from the left so this year’s material had less than usual to play with. The set is a little more flamboyant – a little bit Las Vegas.
Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambie, Pauline Hanson, Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally, and Mark Latham are the main representatives from Parliament. Alan Jones and a range of ABC people including Leigh Sales, Laura Tingle, Ita Buttrose, and Janet Albrechtson also feature throughout The Wharf Revue 2019.
Throughout the musical, the crowd will notably see performances from Cardinal Pell and Julian Assange featured in a Cell Block Tango. Bob Hawke makes a visit from heaven, in a Thanks for the Memories number.
Co-creator Jonathan Biggins is absent from the stage this year, although he is still credited as a writer alongside Phil Scott who is also absent from proceedings.
Throughout the performance, musical maestro Andrew Worboys is excellent at the piano and also in several of the musical numbers. He truly excels at the show tunes. Cruz has a beautiful voice and plays a great range of characters this year – from Penny Wong to Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. It is good to see the show become more diverse in the casting – they call it out, but for me it works. Musical star Helen Dallimore, who debuted in the Wharf Revue, features as Jacqui Lambie, Leigh Sales, Kristina Keneally and more.
Setting the tone of this year’s revue which is a little more serious than previous years, the audience will be dazzled by an excellent cabaret number opened by Lena Cruz singing The Diversity Number. The talk of Me Too is perhaps not as laugh out loud funny as in previous years, but when Drew Forsythe appeared as the forgotten voice – an 80-year-old man stuck in the past, talking about mobile phones and how they were unnecessary as in his day – it was just as easy to take a photo with a box brownie, take the film to the chemist, go back some weeks later to pick up the prints and then take a photo and post it in an envelope to a friend through the mail. Forsythe is a comedian of the first order and his skit was a priceless gem.
The choice of music is richer than usual – especially selected to lighten the mood, it included a couple of Webber/Rice musicals – Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita are chosen as numbers for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and now reviled Burmese leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi (Lena Cruz). “Don’t cry for all the Rohinga” – is a little too close, too soon.
Blonde bad boys Boris Johnson (Forsythe) and Donald Trump (Simon Burke), have their own numbers which are perhaps two of the best in the show and both borrowed their numbers from the red hot Hamilton soundtrack. You’ll be back – the song the King sang – was borrowed for Boris who made a great job of the ‘Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da. Da da dat dat da ya da!’ refrain. Donald Trump has been given the title Alexander Hamilton song which was excellently done by the whole cast.
As always, the revue is a great night out, a clever comedy and a gentle reminder of the state we’re in. I always end up wishing that perhaps these talented folk were running things instead of those we have elected or been stuck with.
When: till Saturday 26 October
Where: Roslyn Packer Theatre – 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
Cost: from $75
For more information: The Wharf Revue 2019
Feautre image: Sydney Theatre Company The Wharf Revue 2019. Photographed by Brett Boardman. Image supplied.