HE may have hung up his skates in favour of a nice warm theatre stage, but Dancing on Ice winner Sam Attwater still has an avalanche and a frosty wife to thaw out at the Playhouse this week.
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Joined by How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria alumni Helena Blackman and a light-footed cast playing it for laughs, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a cheerful, audience-pleasing romp.
While leads Attwater and Blackman are a chemical and vocal mismatch, her outstanding voice a highlight of the production, their individual performances are nevertheless flush with youthful abandon.
With a new set and some fancy footwork, the show has been reworked by Emmy Award-winning director and choreographer Patti Colombo into a pacy parable about blooming love with interludes for dance set pieces and some racy shirt removal. In fact, Colombo seems to have a taste for celebrating the male form. A refreshing change from seeing so much gratuitous female flesh on stage, but one does wonder if a hearty six-packed woodsman would really remove his shirt in a barn in temperatures lower than -20C just to illustrate how frustrated he is that he’s not warming himself at his girlfriend’s hearth.
In all this frivolity, however, one can’t help but feel the vocal and character development of the cast has been neglected. The orchestra do a fine job of keeping momentum, yet the ensemble’s opening prologue is on the discordant side.
The time spent on choreographed interludes, backflips and axe-related gymnastics with the brothers means that Attwater’s Adam and Blackman’s Milly barely have enough stage time to share a lingering glance, let alone conceive a child.
Adam’s enforced sulk in the woods halfway through the play, is also downplayed, Attwater failing to really convey the conflicting feelings of pride, stubbornness and longing within the part. His fight with Gideon doesn’t have the necessary guts to grip the audience.
Colombo’s use of the stage to neatly tie up the drama at the end of the show is engaging and well conceived. If only she hadn’t left the audience with one nagging question – if everyone’s partying at the wedding, who’s looking after the baby?
Run ends Saturday