Yusuf casts a Moonshadow over Melbourne
The new musical Moonshadow created by Yusuf and featuring music he made famous as Cat Stevens, makes its world premiere in Melbourne.PT2M28S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1zk8p 620 349 May 31, 2012
This is your chance to fly to Melbourne for the July 28 show of the Cat Stevens show at Princess Theatre in Melbourne.
Win tickets to see Moonshadow in Melbourne, with airfare and a night at the Sofitel included. Photo: Supplied
The prize includes return flights for two people from Canberra to Melbourne, and a night's accommodation at the Melbourne Sofitel hotel.
Tickets to the show are A Reserve, and promoters will throw in a souvenir program.
Here's how Cameron Woodhead saw the show in Melbourne:
DELVING into musical theatre for the first time, Yusuf (formerly Cat Stevens) has unearthed a magical fantasy universe. Moonshadow is visually seductive, although it refracts other imaginary worlds that have gone before: a dash of The Hobbit here, the suggestion of Tim Burton in steam punk mode there, even shades of Barbarella.
The heroic quest narrative can be appreciated as a simple fairy tale, and as an allegory, not always subtle, of Yusuf's own career and his spiritual seeking.
The remote planet of Alaylia lies in perpetual night. White-haired musician Stormy (Gareth Keegan) has always dreamed of the sun, and after a fight with his father (Robert Grubb), leaves home to pursue it. He also leaves childhood sweetheart Lisa (Gemma-Ashley Kaplan) within range of an obnoxious suitor (Blake Bowden), the son of a factory-owner who sells ''embers'', the only source of light and heat, at extortionate prices.On his dangerous odyssey, our hero is guided by Moonshadow (Jolyon James), one of the last remaining good shadows, who might be a djinn or guardian angel or Stormy's conscience. To realise his childhood dream, Stormy must withstand trials, from encounters with hippies waging invisible wars to the evil of Princess Zeena (Marney McQueen), whose selfish magic corrupts the shadows of all who stray into her bubble-castle in the sky.
Moonshadow brims with imaginative spectacle and the music - more than 40 songs - works wonderfully in a theatrical setting. Catchy melodies remain, and lyrics are cleverly pushed into dramatic service, from the title song, sung with quixotic gentleness by Keegan and Kaplan, to one of Stevens' first hits, Matthew and Son, performed by oppressed workers.
Making a new musical from scratch is incredibly difficult, and this world premiere has teething problems. Given the mellowness Keegan's voice can achieve, it's unclear why he sings the bulk of the show in reedy power-rock mode. And it isn't the only instance where vocals aren't directed to enhance character.
Anders Albien's biggest directorial oversight lies in the acting. It's an accent-circus, with McQueen among others straying from her normal voice to feigned British tones. A director devoted exclusively to the histrionic aspects of the production would help iron out such problems.
Some naturally assured performances are achieved in the absence of firm guidance: James' calm and kindly stilt-walking shadow-creature, Kaplan's innocent, sweet-voiced romantic heroine, Blake Bowden as a ridiculous, all-singing, all-dancing comic villain.
Vocally, the show is on stronger ground, even if the (admittedly superb) cast recording on CD shows up the problematic sound design and acoustics of the live performance. And the story itself is vivid and fun. It has much more going for it than recent Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, although it could use revision from a top-flight writer to eliminate one or two gnomic platitudes, and to sharpen the comedy and drama.
Still, I don't doubt that, on the strength of the spectacle, music and story, Moonshadow will in time take the West End by storm. Meanwhile, none of my reservations should stop Melbourne's musical theatre lovers, as well as fans of Cat Stevens' music, from rushing to be among the first audiences in the world to see it.