melbourne & moonshadow.

I have arrived safe and sound at my new home in Melbourne and, while I am writing this, have officially lived here for 24 hours. It has felt pretty surreal so far but I’m sure it will hit me once I start my new job on Monday. Speaking of surrealism, my first night here was spent on a cute date with CB to the Princess Theatre to see Moonshadow: a musical, by Cat Stevens.

I was so excited to see this show, just ask my friends!! I was intrigued by the premise of writing a musical based on the brilliance of Cat Stevens’ songs and the fictional plot that he helped create sounding like (and in its marketing collateral, also looking like) it could be a Tim Burton project.

The house lights dim, the music sounds and I’m buzzing with anticipation. The audience learns during the opening narrative that Alaylia is a planet in a constant state of darkness, the only natural light that remains is the light of the moon. Stormy is a young man who dreams of Shamsia, a rumoured land where the sun was last seen to set. Feeling discouraged after losing the job his family desperately needed to stay afloat and disheartened by the arranged engagement of his childhood love Lisa to the son of the wealthiest man in town, Stormy sets out on a mission to find Shamsia and restore light to his home world. All the while, Stormy is encouraged by the wisdom of his new friend and companion Moonshadow…

The sets and costumes are magical and the lighting, while dictated by the story to stay at cooler plots for pretty much the entire performance, is still wonderful. The casting was well done and CB and I agreed that Gemma-Ashley Kaplan as Stormy’s ladylove was a standout performer with an energy, presence and voice that radiated well beyond the stage.

Without knowing what the direction given was, I do feel that the physicality of the title character Moonshadow could have been more sharp. The personification of the shadows cast by moonlight into a character who holds such influence over the outcome of this story gives an actor license to make this otherworldly being, for lack of better words, a little bit weird. Standing at nearly twice the height of Stormy and looking exactly like the above cartoon brought to life, I would have liked to see him stalk and sway around the stage, similar to the way Jack Skellington might.

When playing a non-real character, there are no rules. So while the actor should still technically follow the rules of the stage, they should also work on making their mannerisms obviously different to those of a human. But that’s just this one girl’s opinion and despite that, I was still entranced.

I imagine it would be difficult to write the plot of a musical revolving around songs that already exist and are so well-loved; as opposed to writing a story and composing complimenting musical numbers after the fact. Overall though, Moonshadow does the songs of Cat Steven justice and was definitely worth the money I spent on tickets. I’d recommend seeing this musical to anyone… a must for Cat Stevens fans… but hurry, the season closes this August.

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