‘The Killdeer’ is an original musical, with adult themes, that was adapted from a book by Taylor Broadley. The show is having its debut at Murdoch’s Nexus Theatre and is being presented by the Murdoch Theatre Company in conjunction with the excellent musical ensemble, ‘The Cinnamon Line’. This 70-minute, quality musical can be seen at the large and comfortable Nexus Theatre (near car park 3 in the grounds of Murdoch University, 90 South Street) at the earlier time of 7.00 pm each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night until 30th March. The foyer has an impressive display of ‘moody’ photographs of the cast, taken by Perfectly Picturesque. A ‘Killdeer’ is an American wading bird, the plover which has a pathetic plaintive shrill. The scene: is a small town in America’s West. Matt Moynihan’s set: The musicians are in full view, along the rear wall of the stage; with a ‘false’ rear wall being created by two, moveable tiers of ‘school footie-style’ seating, and a decrepit telephone box. There are three, 20 cms high by two-metres square daises along the front of the stage. The efficient stage management was by Keahna Kondylas. Sound and lighting designs were by director Taylor Broadley. Jason ‘JT’ Tolj operated the sound, whilst Chris Connelly controlled the lighting. The follow spot was operated by Kiah van Vlijmen.
A dishevelled youth staggers into a ‘phone box and tells the police that he is the sixteen years old Elliot (Harley Dasey), who was abducted from home five years earlier. He explains that he has just escaped his cruel captors, and can a police car come and collect him? Detective Henry (Jefferson Nguyen) arrives at the phone box, followed within seconds by news reporter, Amy (Tashlin Church) desperate for the full story. Elliot arrives home to find that his loving mother, Bernadette (Cathy Woodhouse) and his father, Roger (Rigel Paciente) have separated during his absence. His caring sister, River (Tannah Pridmore), takes Elliot to school, where his friends have matured and moved on. Some are willing to accept him back into the fold, but others bully the nervous youth. Elliot still has many hidden problems. The Ensemble included: Rebecca Dilley, Sean Wcislo, Jordan D’Arcy, Hayden Mumby, Cathryn Morawiec, Alex White, Bella Doyle, Clara Lee, Rosalie Schneider, Phil Bialas, Launcelot Ronzan and Cat Perez.
Sorry, but one or two minor problems; all of the print in the black-paged programme should have been bold. Reading the cast list in the low-lit theatre was almost impossible, and there were several spelling mistakes of the actors’ names. We all make the odd mistake, but double check names as it matters to the performers. Having said that, the programme captured the mood of the play, and had some clever and innovative design ideas. Choreographer and movement coordinator, Emily Botje, kept the large cast moving; sometimes as a crowd scene, or an aggressive schoolyard, then as a party atmosphere. The original music and storytelling lyrics were written by ‘The Cinnamon Line’. The group comprised lead songwriter, Taylor Broadley, vocal director Lincoln Tapping, lead guitarist Wei Chong, percussionist Liam Rock and Zac Bennett. The music had some memorable songs, and several very different genres of presentation and orchestration. The superb musicians were led and directed by pianist Paul Olsen. The show opened with amazing guitarist, Wei Chong playing rapid staccato. Both guitarists (with Jack Michael) showed several unusual and impressive techniques. My usual moan is that the pianist or drummer are too loud, but Paul and Liam Rock were perfect; however, I suspect that the outstanding session musician – Wei – is accustomed to backing belting pop groups, so that his playing (purely the volume) sometimes drowned out the voices of the weaker singers – or those with no headsets – perhaps a 30% volume drop? In a chorus, however, go for it! Violinists Stephanie Beckham and Kristy Hughes, with cellist Amanda Reynolds produced a couple of beautiful and sensitive pieces. The vocalists? Amy’s rapid tongue twister ‘Who are you?’, Bernadette and Roger’s ‘Oh my water’ and Elliot and River’s ‘A waste’ were most memorable. The costumes by Tarryn McGrath captured perfectly what was required by each scene. An impressive show. A few first night nerves, but the show rocked. The multitasking by Taylor Broadley was amazing – often a writer being connected with a production can kill it, this show blossomed. The topic was quite a dark one to present, but the actors carried it off wonderfully. There was the odd little bit of humour to ease the tension, like the father’s new bimbo girlfriend – delightful. A tricky show tackled with courage. Well done to all concerned.