Theatre review: David Harris becomes a traveller on the schmaltz highwayTheatre Stage
Time Is a Traveller
Chapel Off Chapel
Until August 8
Musical theatre performer David Harris has the kind of anodyne appeal that makes the grey rinse set swoon. Beyond soft stubble and shining eyes, his means of seducing an audience belie his 38-years - it's with demode numbers from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr and Peter Allen.
This autobiographical cabaret takes a line from Tenterfield Saddler as its title, Allen's kitsch ode to his grandfather: "Fly away cockatoo / down on the ground / emu up ahead." For Harris it's a paean to the musical where he cut his teeth (he scored his first role, untrained, in The Boy From Oz ensemble), and to his humble "meat and three veg" origins in rural NSW.
With musical accompaniment from David Cameron, Harris charts the songs that have defined his career. They range from Anthony Warlow-style power ballads sung at talent quests in suburban RSLs, to signature songs from crowning roles in Wicked and Miss Saigon.
While Harris leans heavily on schmaltz, one never forgets his remarkable vocal range; we get the full breadth in the likes of Why God, Why? Harris is a warm stage presence and able to poke fun at his own follies - the most obvious being, why perform a retrospective so early in his career?
The young man who sat in the stalls of the Broadway production of Wicked, determined to one day play Fiyero, also dreamt of moving to New York. This is Harris' fond farewell to the jackaroos, cockatoos and emus that shaped him.