Art House, Central Coast, May 12
Reviewed by Chris Duncan
The Central Coast’s Wyong Art House was transformed into a Vaudevillian house of eclectic entertainment this past weekend with a whacky selection of committed performances by members of the elite Lee Academy full time performing arts courses.
Under the expert guidance of seasoned Artistic Director, Keith Hawley, the cast of Le Freak delivered excellent storytelling with a world class concept supported by studio director and creative Jo Cotteril and choreographers Alyssa Casey, Katie McCarthy and Dianne Rakebrandt.
‘The Art House Presents’ program is a new concept in bringing together the best in drama, dance, music, children’s production and more, to create a diverse, exciting and original program.
‘Original’ is a key word here to describe this unique Le Freak production. Every element spoke of the pursuit of excellence from detailed costuming to elaborate set design, prop adornment and, more importantly, committed and believable character performances.
Upon entry to the theatre, guests were sectioned into small groups and led by various costumed characters through a circuit of recurring five minute performances which were uniquely staged throughout the foyer and backstage areas. These performances encompassed the true French-derived Vaudevillian concept of the late 1800s and early 1900s with unrelated performances varying from burlesque to acrobatics, dancers to comedy acts. Similar to performance art, these brief ‘shows’ seemed nonsensical on the surface but with further reflection could be considered as powerful levels of storytelling together with reflections of concepts from such a significant bygone era of entertainment.
A brief intermission revealed the multitude of industry professionals who had made their journey to the Central Coast to see this curious, inspiring production. As the theatre fell quiet and Act 2 began, characters we had met intimately throughout Act 1 came alive in a whole new dimension on stage with a series of incredible dance, acrobatic, aerial and comical acts. With more than an element of professionalism, performers delivered a convincing polished performance that both entertained and uplifted the audience.
Keith Hawley‘s experience in staging international world class shows was clearly evident in this production. Keith has worked and choreographed for some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry: Kylie Minogue, Marcia Hines, Hugh Jackman, Tina Arena, Diana Ross, Kelley Abbey and Tom Burlinson to name a few. His success grew into design, direction and lecturing internationally in musical theatre, creativity, originality and choreography. Keith’s recent positions have included becoming Senior Entertainment Manager of the Venetian Hotel Resort in Macau and resident Artistic Director for one of the largest entertainment companies in the world – DRAGONE – by Franco Dragone. As one of Jo Cotteril’s valued industry mentors, Keith has proudly supported her guidance of many young artists into professional careers with world class entertainment companies such as Cirque Du Soleil, The Moulin Rouge, Global Creatures, Opera Australia, Dragone and multiple cruise lines to name a few.
INDUSTRY KUDOS …
Juliette Verne – “Le Freak is what makes going to the theatre one of the greatest delights. Surprise, wonder, and astonishment at the incredible talent that exists right here in our own country. This is a birthplace of an international calibre show and performance artists. Kudos to the fabulous Jo Cotterill, her A-List Creative Team and the incredible cast of Le Freak.”
Natasha Crane – “Le Freak, was the most evolutionary show and experience that I have ever seen produced on the Central Coast. It was thought provoking and an absolute spectacle really pushing the boundaries of what you can do with theatre. I absolutely LOVED it!!”
Karina Lawrence – “Theatrically Brilliant from the moment you entered the venue. I was taken through the depths and many layers of another magical world, full of wonder and curiosity that left a smile from ear to ear. Superb attention to detail with a wonderful professional edge. A creative masterpiece full of enchanted delight. Freaking awesome!!!”